Dear Penny: My Boyfriend Is Deep in Debt. He Thinks It’s a Joke

Dear Penny,

My boyfriend of two-ish times lives with me in my apartment. We cohabitate is a good one, but we’re looking to move out of state together at some point.

The problem is, he has debt from credit cards from many years ago and owes the IRS taxes. He ever brushes it off like it’s a joke when I asked about about it.

I want to build a future with him, but I’m afraid his poor financial decisions will catch up to him. How do I get him to take this seriously?


Dear Lost,

Cohabitating well together isn’t just about splitting the works and concurring on what to watch on Netflix. Money is a huge part of the equation. But it’s easy to ignore just how important it is when you’re in the early stages of living together.

If you were sharing your suite with a roommate, you probably wouldn’t care much about their finances. Your mutual fiscal goals would be limited to paying rent and the electric statute on time. I’m guessing you wouldn’t care if they were deep in debt or owed back taxes as long as they prevented shouldering their share of expenses.

But it’s different when you move in with a romantic partner. You’re not just sharing a living space. You’re sharing their own lives. One person’s poor decisions with money become more and more of a problem for the other person, specially when the goals become bigger than next month’s rent. Yet early on, it’s easy to treat this as a roommate statu and simulate their financial disaster is a non-issue as long as they pay their portion of the bills.

The truth is, being in a relationship with someone whose finances are a disaster is exhausting. Your money has to do twice the manipulate when just one of you is concerned about money. Every develop you get feels like half a cause. You can reach a savings goal, yet you’ll feel like you only obliged it halfway.

The issue isn’t so much about who contributes what. There are plenty of duos who are equal marriages, even though one person manufactures much less or has major debt. But the problem here is that you’re taking on the weight of worrying about money for two people.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any surefire lane to get your boyfriend to start taking his obligation severely. But what you can do is show him that you’re taking it earnestly. Tell him what you told me — that you want to build a future with him, but you’re afraid his finances will meet that difficult for both of you.

I’d be careful not to formulate this in terms of his “poor financial decisions, ” though. I don’t know how your boyfriend wound up in this mess. Certainly, there are plenty of reasons a person could wind up with debt not because of their own misjudgments, but because living gathered a whammy on them. Actually, the reasons for your boyfriend’s debt don’t matter, though.

His past poor decisions aren’t what will spell doom for your relationship. The real question is that he’s continuing to fix poor decisions. Building a future together will be impossible as long as he discusses his obligation like a joke.

Do you think your boyfriend knows what he needs to do and is simply putting it off? Or do you think he has no clue what the hell is do? If he’s been avoiding this for a long time, it could be that joking is his way of masking the fact that he’s stunned of dealing with debt collectors and the IRS.

The other thing I require you to think about is whether your suitor is generally a responsible person. If he isn’t great with fund but in general has things together, that’s much different than if his whole life is a mess.

If your lover is open to working on his finances once he appreciates how important this is to you, you could give him a couple of indications. Sometimes when someone has lots of debt, they have no clue how much they owe and who they owe it to. Pulling your free credit reports at can be a good starting point. Most people can get approved for an IRS payment plan within a few minutes without is speaking to a human and spread the legislation over 72 months in many cases.

These are his difficulties, though. You can offer to help him get on the right track. But he needs to be the one to fix them.

If he’s willing to start addressing his pay, that’s a good sign that he’s serious about your future together. But until he’s willing to take action, please don’t make this relationship any further by moving to another state together. Building a future with someone isn’t worth it if the weight of it remains entirely on your shoulders.

Robin Hartill is a showed financial planner and a senior novelist at The Penny Hoarder. Send your touchy money questions to AskPenny @thepennyhoarder. com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which facilitates millions of readers worldwide pay and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal narrations, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 graded The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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