i loved you

[Another Friday, another tantalizing guest post! This week we feature another one from my boy Lance who you might remember from our Financial Confessional series (he’s the one who interviewed that dude sitting in jail for stealing millions of dollars). Thought this was a good one to run today, what with Valentine’s Day coming up 😉 It’s the perfect time to reevaluate your relationships! Haha…]

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There is nothing better than meeting “the one” and falling in love. They have everything going for them in life: great job, perfect hair, amazing personality, adventurous and outgoing, and don’t forget… loaded with debt!

Nothing ruined a relationship faster (other than an emerging case of psychosis) than learning the person I was dating was drowning in debt. Even worse was the lack of recognition when they didn’t think it was a big deal. Guess what, it is a big deal! If you can’t take your money seriously, how can I trust you to take our relationship seriously? I’ve worked my butt off to be where I am today; you’re not taking me down.

Debt is Not Attractive to Anyone

No matter how attractive you may be, the collection of debt is a red flag of a habit that may be impossible for you to break. It can be overcome, especially school debt (although it’s becoming much tougher these days with debts as large as mortgages), but you better think long and hard about mixing your life and someone else’s debt together.

  • Hot and debt free? Super-hot.
  • Hot and $18,000 credit card debt and growing? Hot, high maintenance mess.
  • Mediocre looking and no debt? Hotter than that hot mess above!

Personal Financial Classified Ads

Pretty sure I haven’t read these in the classifieds section, but unfortunately this is how many folks live if you really think about it:

“Looking for a serious relationship with someone who knows how to care and has a kind heart. No head games, no messing around, but willing to accept someone who is a financial dumpster fire living paycheck to paycheck.”

“30 year old single, hopeful to find soul mate! 5’7″ average build and college educated. Looking for person to love and cherish me until the end of my life. Seeking someone kind and loving who can’t control their spending and will bring strife and pain every single day until we can’t stand to be in the same room anymore.”

“Looking for long-term relationship with someone who is financially unstable and dedicated to endless amounts of credit card debt. Can’t wait for regular arguments at the dinner table in front of the kids as we end every night not speaking to each other.”

“Looking for Mr. Right: I’m single, never married, recent college grad with $115,000 in debt. I love long walks while holding hands and talking about our future as I financially cripple us from day one. If you have a good head on your shoulders and don’t mind an extra $650 monthly payment for the next 30 years, look me up!”

“Romantic and caring person who is looking for my best friend and soul mate. I have a stressful job and take my cares out to the lake on my brand new boat which is pulled by my brand new truck. I promise to love you almost as much as my toys!”

Too Much Debt – Swipe Left

Lots of people can overcome debt. Sometimes working on it together has brought people closer because they have worked hand in hand to overcome it.

HOWEVER, I have watched money take two terrific people and turn them into mortal enemies as well. You really need to take the time to consider what too much debt and poor spending habits will bring to your life and relationships.

My First Date With Too Much Debt

I remember asking out a girl from my high school, and when I went to her house to pick her up there was a brand new jeep in the driveway. She opened the door and said, “want to take a ride in my new jeep?!”

It was a lot of fun as we headed up the canyon and then later had lunch talking about how her new car put her in $16,000 of debt. Her parents co-signed on the loan (don’t do that) and she was so thrilled to have that new jeep. $16,000 to a high school student is a ton of money, especially when you work part-time at the mall.

I really liked this girl, and to be honest, it was the first time I probably thought a little more seriously about relationships besides what the person looked like. Between the debt and her blatant disregard for thinking it was a big deal… All of a sudden she became somewhat unattractive. She was still physically beautiful, but her choices made her less appealing as I started questioning her judgement (and not just because she was willing to go out with me, which is a risk in its own :))

Money and Relationships – So Beautiful and So Toxic

My wife and I consider ourselves CEOs. We are CEOs of our home and our money. There is nothing more important than those things, and we work on them together.

It isn’t one person’s responsibility to be smart about money in the home. Everyone in a relationship should know how much money is coming in and how much is going out, and where. If you are not doing that, you are not reaching your full capacity together as a team. There is no one more interested in your finances than you – so work on it together!

I have personally seen finances tear apart fantastic relationships. I have watched folks choose granite counter tops, bigger houses, bathroom renovations and other things that bring in fun for the moment, but devastation later to the finances when the bills come due.

I have watched as couples hide money from each other and buy things behind each others’ backs. Any type of infidelity whether sexually or financially is devastating when eventually discovered. I’ve never met anyone who later said, “hiding things from you was really the best for both of us!” It can put you in a place of tremendous despair and depression when you lose everything that truly matters in your life. Control your pants and your spending!

Don’t Get Caught Up in Fake Wealth

Sometimes we get enamored by flashy things in life. Just like we first notice someone’s amazing good looks, we can also get caught up in what they drive or what they wear and own. Just because someone has something new does not make them rich. Most people have a lot of “stuff” but not a lot of “wealth.”

Make sure when you are in a serious relationship that you have a true understanding of the other person and their financial situation.

Here are just a few questions to ask:

  • How much debt do you have?
  • How much do we make and spend?
  • Do you know what your credit score is? You have never heard of a credit score? That’s cool, did I tell you about my upcoming year long sabbatical to help panda bears in the Wolong China reserve? I can’t take a cell phone, so I guess this is it…
  • How much have you saved for retirement?
  • Should we pay off our house early?
  • Should we rent or own?
  • Are we going to combine our accounts?
  • Do you gamble?
  • Will you watch The Bachelor with me? (Editor’s note: I may or may not have added this in :))
  • What would you do if you inherited $10,000?
  • Are you happy with your job?
  • Have you ever walked out on a job without anything else planned?

If people put in as much time and effort in their finances as they do their looks and stuff they own, they can accomplish much more than imagined. Then we’d actually have a want ad to respond to!

“Smart, financially savvy and attractive person seeking soul mate to travel and take on the world together. Ready to build wealth so we can spend more time hanging out and enjoying life. Let’s do this!”

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Lance is a former blogger who loves to talk about money, but hates running a blog. I told him he’s welcome to share his juicy nuggets here with us anytime 😉 You can find him on Twitter @Lance_Finance.

[Photo cred by @jakeculp / Artwork by @amberella]

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