Well, 1300 posts in these forums and never a single one in this section until now. I guess I don't like to get all "deep" very often, especially with people I don't even know... but perhaps that can actually be a good thing when it comes to advice.
The extremely short version here is that I've been with my girlfriend for 5 years now. We're in our 30's, which means (generally speaking) that marriage is a pretty common discussion not just between us, but coming from all angles including family, friends etc. Understandably so. The issue holding me back though, as we've heard a 1000 times before when talking about why relationships often go bad comes back to money. Specifically, the way she handles (or doesn't handle) her finances, credit, spending, etc.
I have a feeling that this post may get a bit lengthy so I apologize in advance, but also thank those in advance that read through it and especially if they offer any advice.
About me: I've always been very good with money. Whether I made $30k a year or $75k a year I went 20 years without ever being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, etc. I was always comfortable through proper budgeting and proper spending. My credit scores were in the low 800's from about the age of 21 to 35. When all of my friends at 22-24 were buyung nice cars and spending huge I bought my first house and lived a very simple life. I didn't even have a smart phone until last year; I was perfectly content with a flip phone as all I did was call/text and it saved me a decent chunk per month. I don't drive a nice car, I don't have a ton of nice things - not because I CAN'T, but because I dont NEED them. I have a decent amount of savings. I'm extremely responsible with my finances.
My last 2 relationships failed because neither of the girls I shared time with were on the same page with me with repect to money/finances. I lived with both, one for 3 years and one for 5 years and neither contributed to anything. I paid all the bills and handled everything. One of the girls simply refused to pay anything (felt it was MY job) and the other wanted to but couldn't because of her inability to hold down a job and/or maintain an income. Regardless, I left both of them after several years ultimately because of money and finances; the resentment I felt because of the money issues overtook the positive points that the relationship presented.
I find 5 years into my current relationship that I'm experiencing some of the same things. My current girlfriend has never had better than "poor-fair" credit over the past 15 years or so until I took her under my wing and got her into the upper 600's, so I guess you could say she's nearing the "good" range now. Part of "under my wing" involved me co-signing on 2 accounts for her; one revolving account and one installment loan. While she's made all of her installment loan payments just fine, she missed a few on the revolving account which knocked my score down significantly a few years back. I've recovered about 50% of what was lost.
I pay 100% of the household bills, and in addition to that pay two of her bills (car insurance, cell phone). Her income is about 1/3 of mine, so I completely get that she can't contribute what I do. My problem is that in paying all of my bills, our combined bills, and 2 of her bills, I'm left with extremely little when the dust settles. I essentially never spend money on myself and am able to put away pennies as far as savings go now. Conversely, she has 4 or 5 packages arriving in the mail weekly (clothes, shoes, whatever), wastes money on coffee/food out daily, alcohol, etc. Basically money she COULD be contributing to either A - the two bills of hers that I pay or B - any other expenses that we share. I've spoken to her about this a handful of times over the course of the last year or two but nothing ever seems to change. I'm not really sure where to go from here.
I think sort of the "straw that broke the camel's back" and what prompted this post was this: On the revolving account that I referenced above that I co-signed on for her (the one she was late on several payments with) about 2 months ago I paid down the balance SIGNIFICANTLY as it was seriously holding back my ability to obtain new credit. She had a balance of $4400 or so on the account, and I paid back $3500 of it. I told her once she paid off the remaining few months ($210/mo) she could just then pay me that amount per month. This way it saved her interest which helping both my credit profile and hers. I had the savings available and said what the heck, help her out. So today I called up the creditor to check on the balance of the account to find that this month only a $60 payment was made instead of the normal $210; basically since the balance was dropped significantly my GF felt that she only needed to pay $60 this month instead of the normal $210. Obviously this now is going to keep the account open longer (I can't wait to close it) than necessary, but also increases the time before she starts paying ME back. Basically, it's just another financial issue today that popped up that really got under my skin.
Does anyone have any advice on how to approach this situation with her? The problem I have is that when I try to talk to her about these things she shuts down quite quickly, takes the conversation as an attack and it becomes very unproductive very fast. All of this financial BS is what's creating tension between us, holding us back from moving forward (marriage) and causing resentment that to me isn't necessary. I appreciate those that have read through this post and take the time to respond. Thank you.
For some reason, I always thought you were woman as I thought your avatar was some handbag or something. Maybe I just have bad eyes so forgive me for it.
Now unto your post, I know you are trying to help her because you make more than her but you are actually doing more harm to than good by even paying her own bills for her [ Insurance, cell phone].
Let her take care of those bills herself instead of shopping etc. By letting her do that, she can start learning how important these things are. Also, you need to find a way to teach her the concept of money instead of her thinking of it as some sort of an attack.
Don't get married yet as you guys are not financially compatible based on your post until that is resolved. If you get married now the way things are, she will never change as you have set the tone of how things should be done from the get go.
Handbag? Boxing gloves, man. Hopefully others haven't seen that as a handbag and thought I was a woman. Perhaps this is something I need to reconsider!
I have zero intentions of marrying her the way things stand now and I think she knows this. What I don't think she understands, however, is that the financial aspect is the biggest thing holding us back. Shes FULLY aware of my previous 2 serious relationships that completely failed due to the females inability to do "her part" with respect to the financial end of things which is what surprises me most as she's seemingly not making the necessary adjustments.
Do I just flat out tell her I'm not paying her phone/insurance bills any longer? Combined that's $200/mo. I sort of feel that if my income is 3x hers, she should be paying 1/3 of the bills, and I'm essentially paying 125% of them (give or take). It just doesn't make sense. I also am a bit hesitant on my approach as she now owes me $3500; I don't think she'd be the type to stick me with that tab, but you never know what could happen if things "go wrong" at some point...
I guess the toughest thing for me is finding a way to approach her on this without her shutting down within 30 seconds and having the conversation be unproductive. Every time the doorbell rings though and it's another package for her or she comes home some some sort of BS (that costs money) I literally feel my fist ball up and want to put it through a wall. It's not healthy; I need to resolve this ASAP.
Those gloves would be a very oddly shaped handbag
It sounds like you've made the effort to be understanding of her, you've tried many times to speak to her, and given her opportunities to make some changes. It's been five years - as much as you try, unless she *wants* to change (it really doesn't sound like she does), it's very unlikely that she will change. I do think it's a good idea to stop paying those two bills; I hope she actually takes responsibility for her own finances. I think that would show that she is at least trying.
What seems most concerning to me, is what she would do if for some reason, you lost your job or for whatever reason, your source of income drops. You say that you barely have enough left over after covering for both of you, despite the fact that she seems to have enough resources to continue purchasing luxuries while leaving you to take care of neccessities. Would she be willing to make any compromises to support the two of you? This should be a team effort; it's unfair for one person to be unwilling to even talk about such an important aspect of the relationship, much less refuse to act.
As for how to approach her...maybe start about savings first, mention that you're build savings like before, which will provide a good buffer for emergencies for the both of you (or maybe retirement, or vacation - whatever reason it is that you are currently saving). So in order to do that, you need to put away that percentage of money from your income. In order for that to happen, she needs to pay her own phone and insurance bill. If she protests that she doesn't have the money to do so, maybe you should ask her to add up her fun expenses and see if that sum doesn't cover it. I agree with you that her portion of the bills should be more like 1/3, but this will be a good baby step towards that. Hope that's maybe helpful?
I have to say that you are an incredibly patient person. Honestly, if I had a boyfriend who was like that, I would have left a long time ago.
Well, that clearly looks like boxing gloves to me, but I am wearing my glasses so that helps.
As for your GF, you say you don't think she knows this is the primary reason for the lack of marriage. Maybe it is time to clearly spell that out for her. While you are at it I would say that you 2 need to set some rules and guidelines for your future finances. Since you are the responsible one, I would say for you to take responsibility for paying all the bills. Add up all your expenses and decide on an amount she will pay each pay period to contribute to the bills AND the savings. She should be responsible to contributing to that as well. I know you guys hate the touchy-feely stuff, but you REALLY need to make it very clear how much stress this situation causes for you, and make it clear that this will be a dealbreaker if you two can't come to a compromise. It sucks to break up over something that should be so simple to resolve, but if she refuses to change at all and you can't live with things the way they are, that may be the only option. Also make it a point to sit down together once a month to review the expenses together.
Try to make sure you approach it as an open dialouge, find solultions that will work for both of you if she is willing to contribute to the conversation, and be open about your feelings. I get it, I almost have to beat the feelings out of my husband LOL, but we don't know if you don't tell us!
ETA: If you have it, I would probably go ahead and pay off the CC and close the account. It doesn't sound like you can trust her to not run it back up.
My approach is always tough love.
You said, "One of the girls simply refused to pay anything (felt it was MY job) and the other wanted to but couldn't because of her inability to hold down a job and/or maintain an income."
That's my absolute dealbreaker: a girl who feels entitled and expects to be taken care of.
You also said, "I pay 100% of the household bills, and in addition to that pay two of her bills (car insurance, cell phone). Her income is about 1/3 of mine, so I completely get that she can't contribute what I do."
That's just a red flag to me.
You can set up contributions based on percentage of income to total household income.
You said she makes about 1/3 your income, so let's say, for example, you make 75k and she makes 25k.
Household income 100k, in which you contribute 75% and she contributes 25%.
If a bill is $1000, she should be paying $250 and you should be paying $750. Both are 1% of income, therefore it's totally equal.
Her net income / (Her net income plus your net income) = percentage she should contribute to make things fair.
Your net income / (Your net income plus her net income) = percentage you should contribute to make things fair
Final thoughts are that you shouldn't be paying 100% of the bills plus her bills.
It would be an absolute slap on the face for me if my partner were ordering packages/shopping/buying needless things while I am contributing 100% and more.
If you can't work things out, don't let the fact that you've been with her for 5 years keep you from leaving her.
I appreciate the feedback from everyone above.
One thing I'm not worried about her is "running up" the combined account that we have together. It's a Care Credit account that was used once in 2012 and has been being paid off ever since without additional purchases. In fact, the physical card is long gone at this point and since it's Care Credit it's very limited in terms of what you could use it for anyway
I should add another piece of data to this discussion. We have a son together, which of course makes the option of potentially breaking up less than favorable. We have ZERO support system (family) in terms of help child-care wise, so one of us HAS to be home with him; it's impossible for both of us to ever work at the same time. We play the old "tag off" game where one of us comes home from work and the other will go to work. I work some pretty demanding hours for my job. There are days that I work 5AM-6PM and days that I work 5PM-5AM which of course makes it difficult for her to work around my schedule - I get that. There's been times that she's wanted to work more, but she simply can't due to our conflicting schedules. We make the best out of it.
I agree with those of you above that said the first step is getting her to pay her own car insurance and phone bill, 2 bills that I've footed for her for 4 years now. That will be a start if I can make that happen. I would assume that in taking on those 2 bills her shopping/spending will have to decrease since she really doesn't have a means of raising her income at the time. Something that I forsee could be an issue going forward though is getting her to consistently pay me back the $3500 that I paid off on that Care Credit account... especially if she takes on the two bills mentioned. She was paying a little over $200/mo to Care Credit which we agreed she would just pay to me once the account is closed.
Definitely going to need to have another talk very soon about this with her. I'll definitely take the angle that I'm having trouble with the bills while still contributing to savings as a result of the current situation that we're in... so something has got to change.
Having financial peace should be most important. I am sorry that this is happening to you, but things must change. As you have stated you need to have another serious with her in terms of the bills and credit card useage.
I have been in your shoes before and I know it hurt, the only thing that differ is that we did not have a child together. I had many money talks and it seems as if he was not getting the picture. He spent money all the time and it was tough. The one credit card we had together was always being maxed out and I had limited savings. Eventually I said enough was enough and we had a another altercation when it came to the money and I knew the ultimate decision was for me to leave. I did leave and it hurt at first but I had to do it.
I understand that you have a child together, but how you can you save for your child education, and such when one is spending money like it's water and does not care. I cannot tell you what to do in the ultimate decision you make but I do hope that she wakes up before it is too late, if not you need to move on.
Well I know you love her but love doesn't pay the bills.I nice had a Gf just like this and worse and I looked past it and married her long story short cost me all my great credit, 2 houses, 2 cars all my money.2 Bk's and over $275,000 in credit card debt.If she refuses to listen you and Change now she will never change and you are heading down wrong path.Sit her down and seriously tell her what's on your mind and what you will and won't do and after that if she doesn't adjust and change you have your answer! It's already cost you some of your good credit and a lot of money so don't do anymore !