Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The good news for both of you? Below, they share seven tips for handling the conversation.
Recognize that not all debt is created equally. Talk to them and find out how much the debt is, and more importantly, how the debt was accumulated. In the latter case, they may be serious about money and their future. Remember not all debt is bad debt. That says a lot about them. Keep an open mind, even if it is credit card debt. A series of unexpected life moments such as a car accident, emergency vet bill or home repair may have contributed to the debt. Identifying the underlying issues allows you to help your partner overcome any potential bad habits and assess strategies to pay it off faster.
To get the conversation started and make your partner feel comfortable, open up about your own financial situation. Talk about any debt you may currently have or have paid off before focusing the attention to their situation. If you feel uncomfortable broaching the subject, frame it as a conversation about your future together. Try and frame the conversation in terms of things you want to do together like have kids, buy a house or travel. What will this debt mean for your life together or your financial goals?
You may need to put some of these goals on hold until your partner gets their debt under control. Have an honest conversation about your relationship with money growing up.
What messages did they get from their parents about spending, saving and what money meant to them? Are they really different than yours? If so, this lays the foundation for regular check-ins with each other about money issues as there is more chance of problems.
If you both come from a family where saving was part of the expectation, then perhaps you can help get them back on course. Am I OK being in a relationship with someone who has accumulated debt? If you are moving ahead with the relationship, do everything you can to be a supportive partner.
Identify ways that you are able to help without it costing you financially. For instance, instead of expensive date nights, encourage and embrace ways to curb spending by creating a list of free or low-cost events you can attend as a couple. Also, attend financial wellness events together. Many cities offer events geared toward educating communities on the importance of financial education.
You can easily find some of these for free on Meet Up. Personal finance is extremely personal; remember to avoid any conversations that can be perceived as judgmental or belittling. This question will help you gain a better understanding of the kind of person you are dating.