I've been a lurker for a little while and have read quite a few threads about having a partner whose credit/income/financial skills are worse, but how do you deal when you are that partner? I've been with my boyfriend for a little under a year, we don't live together, and we haven't talked about marriage or anything at all, but I'm worried my financial status will prevent our relationship from growing. I made lots of mistakes with credit and my student loans when I was in my early 20s, started to get back on track, and then in my late 20s was out of work for 18 months. Everything went to heck. I'm now 35 and have been picking up the pieces for about a year and a half. My credit is improving and I'm hoping it will be in the 'good' range within two to three months. I make enough to pay my bills, though not much more. My boyfriend, on the other hand, makes at least three times what I do and has always made smart financial decisions, so has excellent credit.
When we first started dating I insisted on splitting everything. Now, he pays for almost everything. He's completely aware of my situation, that I'm working on doing better, and I'm currently in school and hoping to finish my degree and find a better paying job within two years. He says he's impressed that I'm putting in so much effort to straighten everything out, but I'm worried. I'm afraid he won't want to live together because I won't be able to afford nearly as much in rent as he can, or that eventually he'll get tired of me not being able to afford the things he likes to do (like international travel).
Anyone have advice on how to feel like an equal partner in a relationship when finances are significantly different, or to get over the fear that weak finances will cause the relationship to end?
Thanks for your time and for all of the helpful advice on here!
My now Ex (it wasn't financial issues that broke us up) and I split things proportionately during our time together. Originally, I made at least twice what she made and later she made three times what I made. Interesting, that you used to pay half. I have found that women without means are the most generous. Good luck!
For starters, communication is key. It's very important that you both openly discuss your situations and how you want and expect to handle finances. Based on your post it sounds like that is happening. Realistically many, maybe most, relationships don't involve people who make similar incomes and have similar credit situations.
The good news is that most bad stuff will drop off eventually. If you are both in it for the long term and recognize that your situation will improve in a couple of years, then you a good chance at a happy future. If he was just looking at today and thinking that you're dragging him down, he'd probably be gone by now and you really wouldn't want somebody like that anyway.
So I am (or was) that partner that made significantly less and had bad credit.
In my case it was due to me sticking my head in the sand after a financially disastrous marriage/divorce. I just let it all burn for a few years and cash-onlied my life.
I moved in with my current partner a few years ago - he was easily making twice what I made, his credit is stellar and he is very financially stable and productive. I used this as an opportunity to at least make sure I was not a burden - I cleaned up my credit, started budgeting and keeping my finances in check. I periodically ask him if I can help with the bills (he pays for nearly everything). I do not contribute to the mortgage, as the house is his and things might get legally dicey in my jurisdiction if I were to contribute there.
I 'make up the difference' with sweat equity and effort. I do the vast majority of the cooking, I do most of the handyman stuff, I garden, and generally take care of the house. I still felt like I'm an equal contributor even though I made signficantly less.
Recently we've come to a parity with our incomes, and I definitely contribute more than I used to, and I've been slowly taking on bills (like adding him to my cell plan, etc.), but I still contribute less monetarily because he's letting me sink most of my money into student loan debt (he doesn't have any debt).
I would caution against paying half. I recommend paying proportionate to your income, but as has been mentioned above - communication is key. Make sure you both have similar (or at least noncompeting) financial goals and communicate about monetary priorities. It sounds like your partner doesn't feel burdened, and that's very important.
First take a few deep breaths. You are taking the right steps to make things better and he is noticing. Don't worry yourself too much over this. Just keep plugging away at your debt. There are those that don't care about the debt and those trying to improve their situation. It takes a lot of guts to be able to say I need to fix this.
I don't think your finances are going to ruin your relationship at all considering you are making changes for the better.
Just because you don't make the money like he does doesn't mean there aren't other ways you can help that don't cost a lot. Simple things like making dinner or picking up a movie to watch from redbox with a bottle of wine can make a difference.
My girlfriend makes a signifigant amount of money than I do and it's not easy because she will a lot of times buy things or pay and insist. But I do 90% of the cooking and she does appreciate that.
If he didn't approve he probably would have left already. The fact that he says he's proud of you says a lot. My advice just keep doing what you are doing and don't worry about it.
I'm right there with you! My husband and I make about the same amount of money, but I have terrible credit and am drowning in student loans/credit card bills while he has zero debt and a great credit score, so a lot more cash flow. Money and credit became a huge discussion as soon as we started talking about living together years ago. It's definitely not easy feeling like the anchor that's dragging us both down, but I am so thankful that he is supportive and encouraging as I try to make steps to improve. As stated above, communication is KEY.
We started weekly financial discussions very early in our relationship and have them almost weekly still to this day. We sit down and go through all bills, upcoming expenses, and where every single bank account/credit card is at. Sometimes it all sucks to talk about, but the weekly discussions have kept me accountable to make smart decisions and continue to improve my half of the situation. Hang in there!