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How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

New Visitor

How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

Hi all,


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!

Message 1 of 14
Regular Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

The easiest way to make living conditions financially equal is if both partners agree to move into a place that both parties can afford at least half of. For example, if your rental budget is 500 a month, then your boyfriend will have to be willing to move into a place that is 1000 maximum.

Now perhaps your boyfriend may really want that fancy place that costs 2000, and is willing to pay 1500 while only asking 500 of you. That is entirely his desire and your decision to agree to it or not.

Like you said, he knows your situation and is in fact your boyfriend. I think you’ll be fine Smiley Happy.

Message 2 of 14
Valued Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

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!

Message 3 of 14
Established Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

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.

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Message 4 of 14
New Visitor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

Thanks for the kind words!  I really appreciate the reassurance Smiley Happy

Message 5 of 14
Senior Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

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.

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Message 6 of 14
Regular Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

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.

Message 7 of 14
Regular Contributor

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

Well I my honest opinion I kinda have a similar situation but opposite my girlfriend has a bad financial history but she works hard every day to make things right and I'm so proud of her it's crazy I can tell she feels like she's holding us back financially but really who cares so we're gonna have higher interest rates and blah blah aleast she tries and that all I can ask for and hope for I knew what I was getting from the start and it doesn't bother me a bit so if your boyfriend is anything like that don't worry about it just do your best and it'll come in time

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Message 8 of 14

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

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!

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Message 9 of 14
New Member

Re: How to cope with having worse credit/lower pay?

Reading through your post, I understand where you’re coming from. After a while one starts to feel inadequate as you feel you aren’t contributing enough to the table. But one needs to understand that everything happens in its own time. Thank God you’re back in school and working on your finances, there are a lot of people who would honestly not care and would just allow their SO to take care of all the bills, but you’re trying and you need to see that, there will come a time where things will balance out for the both of you, if you start building on yourself and start earning more you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter if he’s making 3 times your figure cause you guys are a team, it’s not a competition, you complement each other.
So if you feel odd, talk to him about it, I’m sure both of you will be able to sort things out
Message 10 of 14
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