Telling My Partner I Have Debt

Recently, I finally told B about my debt.  (insert cringe here at all the gasps I hear from the interwebs)

I know!  I know I should have told him sooner, but despite co-habitating I honestly didn’t feel too much pressure to tell him until we started getting serious about wedding planning and starting a life together.  In my defense, we know about each others’ salaries, various accounts, ways of spending, etc.  However, since he’s frugal beyond belief and overall fiscally responsible, I was ashamed to tell him about my debt.  A part of me thought that perhaps I could just get rid of the debt without having to tell him (not to justify, but some friends I bounced this off of thought this, as well).  However, as I became more invested in PF communities, as well as read various articles and comments about when to tell your partner about your financial situation, it started to internally bother me that I was keeping this from him.  Plus, I do generally believe that omission is still lying, so I womaned up and came clean.

This is how it went down more or less:

Me: “So, I have to tell you something…”

B (kind of concerned since I had a serious look on my face): “Okay, what?”

Me: “So I haven’t been shopping lately and staying on a strict budget because I really want to be debt free by the time we get married.”
B: “Okay… how much are we talking about?”

Me: “Well this year I started off with $12.5k, and now I’m down to $6k.”

B: “Okay, cool, you’re halfway there… are we going to the gym this morning?”

Pretty anti-climactic, but I was so relieved that I finally told him.  He did inquire what kind of debt it was, and why it’s taking me so long to get rid of it, which I answered truthfully (some of it were the destination weddings that I was in, but most of it was just plain stupidity and lack of discipline).  To be honest, I must be a masochist because I was slightly perturbed he didn’t dig deeper or shame me, but I suppose that’s the upside of dating someone so stoic – he may not get overly enthusiastic, but he also doesn’t get overly angry.  In fact, I joke at times how borderline robotic he is, gently poking at his face and commenting “How very life-like they make you guys these days!”

So with that proverbial boulder off my chest, it kind of helped me get my second wind back in my determination to get rid of this debt.  I think most PF’ers talked about financial situations right away in a relationship, but did it ever take you awhile to tell your partner something important, or am I the only bad person? 🙂

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57 thoughts on “Telling My Partner I Have Debt

  1. That’s awesome Anna! Having had to go through this myself with my wife I know how difficult it can be. I think her response was similar to B’s and that just made me feel better and gave me more motivation to knock out the debt.

    • Thanks so much, John! I agree, it became more encouraging that my partner was so cool about it, so I’m more motivated to get rid of my debt. Have a great weekend 🙂

  2. I admit, I gasped a bit when you told me the news but I’m glad Mr. “doesn’t get too excited but doesn’t get too angry, stoic B” was chilled with recieving the news. You guys are so perfect for each other. I’m so happy you’re getting married 🙂 Have a great weekend Anna! xo

    • I do admit, once I saw your reply yesterday I thought, “Oh man, I should talk about it.” Haha, yeah, he’s cool, I’m pretty stoked to have him in my life. 🙂 Thanks for giving me the courage to write about it, GMD – have a great weekend, as well! xo

  3. Hm. I would have told him, but I also don’t think your debt is so crazy an amount that you should be ripping your hair out over it. What is it that they say? Huwag mag-alala?

    • Do you speak Tagalog and/or are you Filipino?!? 🙂 I understand it completely, but for some reason the words don’t come to me when I speak it. Yeah, I guess because I’m “in” the debt repayment process it’s probably bigger in my head since I’m feeling the process, but I agree in the bigger scheme of things it’s less than I think.

      • I’m about as Filipino as everyone else is, but can’t speak more than a few words of it. It’s very sad.

        If I was dating someone and she told me she had your level of debt, I’d try to take it seriously but would probably not be able to keep from smiling, at least. This presumes, of course, that I’ve already told her about my genuinely massive debt — http://debtblag.com/about/

      • Haha, yeah, I guess in the bigger scheme of things the amount isn’t all that bad… I agree it’s all about perspective!

  4. Haha, he sounds like a keeper! But in his defense, what does he have to worry about? You made some pretty good progress on your own to knocking it out, and it sounds like you’ll have most (if not all) of it gone by the end of the year!

    • Aww, that was nice to hear, thank you! I think you’re right, that he’s probably not upset because he knows I’m on a mission to get rid of it – thanks for putting it in that perspective!

  5. First – and most importantly – I love seeing your face in your gravatar – you are adorable! 🙂 Second – kudos for telling B about your debt. Debt happens to everyone but that doesn’t make it any easier to talk about. I’m glad B responded well and that you’re doing such an amazing job getting rid of it! Have a great weekend! It’s going to be hot in LA!

    • Aww, you just made my day, thanks Shannon! I think after I told B, I started feeling less shameful, so I figured I’d show the front side of my head now. haha Thanks, as well, for the kudos – I definitely want to talk money with hopefully future kids, and what better way to start than being completely upfront with my partner. Have a wonderful weekend, as well, I went out for lunch and was so sad I had to come back inside! 🙂

  6. We didn’t talk specifically about debt until we were thinking about marriage. I mean we had an idea how much debt the other person had, but not the exact amount. Back then, both of us thought we’ll have debt until we die, so we really didn’t think too much of it.

    You’ll be done with your debt soon, so you can focus a lot of energy and money for your wedding. I love weddings~ I’m so excited for you!!!

    • That’s what I thought to (that debt is normal and probably something that we’ll have forever), but now that I’m seeing the other side I like it so much better! Have you two talked anymore about the house/ student loan stuff and how to handle it? I’d love to hear the update. Wedding planning is fun, though exhausting! I’m pretty excited about it, though, and hope I can share soon. Thanks as always for your support xo

      • We decided to focus on debt payment for now and talk more later as we get closer to him finishing school.

        Enjoy this time of engagement or was it pre-engagement? I was stressed when I was planning my wedding, but after I got married, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I missed planning and looking at pretty things several hours a day. Don’t let little things get to you and really enjoy this moment. Let me know if you need any help. I’d be more than happy to research things for you and with you~^^

      • That sounds like a great plan for both of you! Aww, that is so sweet of you to offer, thank you!! I’m trying to keep it pretty chill (we set our budget and the total is mind-boggling), but I’ll remember to pick your brain once the details with decor, flowers, etc. start coming along. Have a nice weekend 🙂

  7. Well done on telling B about your debt! I can imagine how you must have felt and maybe now a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders? Sharing your debt with someone feels good and if it’s the one you love, even better. The way you have dealt with your debt over the last six months just shows how committed you have been and now B knows about it, I’m sure it will spur you on even more!

    • Thank you! Yeah, it was definitely a relief, especially when he was pretty chill about it. You’re right, his acceptance makes me want to try even harder to pay off the debt quicker!

    • Haha, agreed – I think it would have come out through this engagement weekend thing we have to do for the church, but it’s just nice to have it out of the way!

  8. I think you have probably already showed him your “ways of spending” so it probably didn’t come as such a blow to him. If he knew you were in debt, but didn’t see you do anything active to pay down debt, then I could see where he’d be concerned. But glad you got that off your chest!

    • Thanks Tonya! Yeah, he’s the one that actually got my shopping in check (since he would always find packages waiting for me when we started living together), but you’re right – I think it’s because he knows I’m paying it down so he’s not sweating it. Have a great weekend, it’s so beautifully sunny here, love it!

  9. Good for you! It took my husband a while just like you but my reaction wasn’t the same. I was in complete shock. I got over it and we are working to pay off his debt. Damn those Student loans!

    • Oh no, I’m sorry to hear, but I’m glad that once the initial shock faded that things got better. I agree, student loans are a killer!

  10. That sounds like quite the relief. I totally understand his reaction, I think that’s how I’d be too. Clearly you’re taking care of the issue and that’s that. But hold on… Does he not read your blog? Does he know about it? I haven’t told any friends or family about my blog… which is probably going to come back to bite me at some point.

    • Nope, B might know about it because he looks over at my laptop a lot, but he’s never asked (even when I’m going out with guy friends who are in town, he doesn’t grill me like previous ex’s, it’s nice to have that trust!). I guess I should tell him at some point, since I’ve now told him the main premise of my blog! I suspect he’d react to it the same way as my debt.

  11. I’m glad you have that burden relieved, it must have been difficult at first to get the courage to tell him, but obviously he’s very understanding as he trusts you to handle it! Getting rid of half of it before telling him might have even been a good thing considering it shows responsibility. It’s not a huge amount and the fact you’re working on it gives him no reason to react negatively. My boyfriend and I shared our student loan debt early on as we both started repaying them during our first six months together, and it was just kind of a natural thing to bond over.

    • Thanks E.M.! Yeah, I think it helped that I’m showing a track record of paying it off, for sure, so it helped soften the blow, so to speak. That’s so cool that you two shared finances early on, I think that definitely makes a relationship stronger when all the cards are laid out on the table!

  12. lol, you’re not a bad person. I’m sure my bf’s response would have been equally non-climatic. I’m sure you’ve “shamed” yourself more (and better) than anybody else could have. I know I sure shamed myself for being such a financial mess with my student loans. Good for you for telling him. Must feel really good not to be holding that in anymore.

    • Haha, it seems you know my type all too well – you’re right, everyone at work says no one beats me up over things as much as I beat myself up! It definitely feels great that he knows about it, I think it probably helped gel things together since I talk about money a lot more this year!

    • Thanks Michael! I agree, it was nerve-racking, but really glad that it’s over and done with! I would love to hear how your experience with that went sometime!

  13. Sounds like a great guy!

    My DH brought 10K in student loan debt to our union (at 8.75% interest, unsubsidized). But neither of us knew until right after we’d married because his parents had set it up.

    • He definitely is. 🙂 How sad, though, I’m curious why the parents didn’t tell him after both of you got married? It might be in your archives, so I’ll be sure to check it out – thanks for stopping by!

      • He knew he had student loan debt, just not how much (or that he’d have to pay it, probably… he didn’t worry his pretty head about money back then), and I had assumed it would be subsidized debt which was something like 2% interest at that time.

        We found out how much it was right before he had to start paying it back! We probably could have deferred it through graduate school, but at that interest rate it would have been crazy to do that.

        Actually 10K overall isn’t so bad, though if I had known he’d had such a nasty interest rate, I would have made sure he paid some of that down while in college with his summer earnings, since the interest for unsubsidized loans starts accruing as soon as you get them. (My parents took subsidized loans out on me, leveraged that, then paid them off when they came due.) At the time my biggest emotion was that his parents were stupid for taking such a ridiculous loan out.

      • Ah, thanks for the clarification. I hate to say it, but I was the same back in the day (I knew I had loans, but I chose to ignore to learn about the amount which was very, very stupid). I agree that interest rate is ridiculous, but that’s great that it’s all paid off now!

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  15. That’s great that you told him about it! I’ve also told my partner similar things, with nothing more than a blink. I think I shame myself in my head, more than others ever have. I love seeing your cute mug on your gravatar too 🙂

    • Hi stranger, so nice to hear from you! Haha, yeah, I think we’re the same in that respect – no one’s a harsher critic than ourselves. Aw, thanks for the gravatar compliment! Hope you’re doing well 🙂

  16. Nice! Cool calm and collected and moved on. I think in part because you are already working and dealing with the problem. Its one thing to have the debt and be doing nothing but to have knocked out half in 6 months well the proofs in the pudding as they say. I think you should have told him earlier but glad you didn’t wait until after you were married.

    • Thanks Thomas! I would have definitely felt more guilty if I waited until marriage – I agree with you that I should have told him earlier, it was challenging to find the courage! I’m glad it’s done with, though.

    • Haha, yeah, I laughed at his response, as well, and it made me feel more guilty for not telling him sooner! But, just glad it’s all done!

  17. I’d much rather hear someone has debt than herpes!

    Seriously though, 6K is nothing and I don’t think its even the most important part. At a very young age, you demonstrated to B that you are wiser than many other fools who will continue to run up debt until a ripe old age. I’m glad it went well!

    • LOL way to put things in perspective, Mr. 1500! I suppose my debt is curable, eh? Alas, I’m not very young anymore, though I do hopefully still have 2/3 of my life ahead of me that I’m glad I’m not bringing this mess into! 🙂

  18. Congratulations on working up the courage to tell him! I think often its the case where we think its a bigger deal than it really is. However, you never know until you confess. So be glad you did and found out that there was nothing to it.

    • Thank you, MMD! Yeah, in hindsight I definitely made it bigger than it was in my head, but I’m just glad that it’s over and done with!

  19. Good for you! I had double the debt you started out with and to be honest, I hesitated about getting into a relationship because of my debt.

    I was so uncomfortable about having to eventually him how much debt I had that I seriously thought about clearing my debt first before dating anyone seriously. In the end I told him about it and he reacted better than I thought. I also had such a serious look on my face, I think he was expecting worse news 🙂

    I think it helps that you’d cut your debt significantly before telling him.

    • Thank you, Elle (I love that name!). I know what you mean about being uncomfortable, but agree that looking serious probably set the tone for something bigger than it really was. I’m glad to hear that your partner’s reaction was better received than expected, as well!

    • I agree with you that I don’t think one should hold back in being in a relationship just because of debt – still gotta live life! I would hope that if someone sees that one is taking steps to get rid of it, that the track record should speak for itself. I’m glad to hear that it won’t hold you back anymore – thanks for stopping by, Michelle! 🙂

  20. Hi Anna! One of the reasons that I’m not really keen on dating right now is that I don’t want to have that conversation about my debt! I’m sure it was nerve-wracking, but telling him must have been a big relief. Congrats for doing it, and congrats on having such a great boyfriend!

    • Hi Carly, great to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words, it was definitely nerve-wracking but I’m glad it’s done. Aww, I would hope that if someone amazing happens to pass your way, that it won’t stop you from dating, though! But I can certainly understand where you are coming from. Thanks for stopping by and hope you had a nice 4th! 🙂

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