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You Asked: Is He Worth It?

Dear Sugar,

I have been dating a guy for about eight months now. We have been friends for several years and always liked each other but it wasn't until a year ago that we were both single and decided to get together. We have a lot in common and we always have fun with each other. He gets my personality better than any of the guys I have dated before him and actually knows how to handle my "Monica" tendencies.

However, he is going through a huge transition in his life right now. He has finally decided to finish school which will add to his $70,000 student loans. His parents are completely unsupported with anything he does and he is basically broke.

I really love him and can picture us with a future together but the stress of his situation has already gotten to me. I am always his outlet for frustration and stress which wears on me because I have my own stresses. By the time he is done getting his college degree and teaching certificate he will owe $100,000, not including all the interest. This amount of money is daunting to me. It's currently not my debt but if we stay together and get married, it will becomes mine. Fortunately I am not in any debt and I know I'll have a decent paying job once I am done with school but I don't know if I want to foot all the bills while he is paying off his school loans.

With all this said, my question for you is this: should I stick it out with him and accept that this amount of money will burden us for years down the road (will we be able to afford a decent house and kids?) or do I run now and try to find someone more financially stable? — In the Red Rebbecca

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear In the Red Rebbecca,

You're right, your boyfriend is going to be in some serious financial debt after all is said and done, but he obviously feels his education is worth it. Of course, it will take some time to pay off all his debt, and you're being smart to think proactively about your future, but at the end of the day, if you love him you shouldn't be losing sleep over this.

Since you've only been dating eight months, I wouldn't put all your eggs in one basket quite yet. Have fun and see where the relationship goes. If things do end up working out between you, it will be because you love each other despite the financial obstacles you have in front of you. Finding someone you want to spend your future with is a huge deal and while you might have to make some sacrifices like waiting to buy a house or having kids until his debt is under control, you have to ask yourself if passing up "the one" is worth it. If you ask me, I would say no. I happen to think finding a compatible mate is something very special that you shouldn't pass up so have faith that it will all work out in the long run. I hope this helps.


Join The Conversation
clarapl clarapl 9 years
I see this is an old question, but just wanted to add: if he volunteers for Teach America or as a teacher with the Peace Corps, don't they pay your student debt for you?
ksw4543 ksw4543 9 years
What do YOU want? I'm in a PhD program, will have close to 170,000 dollars worth of debt when I'm done, and I just got engaged to a wonderful guy who has no debt himself. He is very willing to support me and encourages me to keep going for my degree and always makes mention that it is now "our" debt, even though it's my 10 years of school that accrued it. If you're willing to foot the bill, then go for it. If you're not, then don't go for it. Finances do not dictate whether or not you love someone. Staying with someone means accepting their flaws and taking them as they come, 100,000 dollars of debt or not. You're the one who needs to make that decision.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
I'm sorry, but what does your guy's college loans have to do with your love for him? WTF??? How insecure about life are you that you are gauging your relationship according to money? This is 2007 - you want a big house and kids? Go make the money yourself! And yes, support the man you love while he's finishing his studies - how many men have done it for their wives??? Couples divorce because of money problems because they're not supportive of each other and they make their bank accounts their priority instead of the relationship. No, you shouldn't stay with this guy; he deserves someone better than you, who will be 100% supportive and will be there for HIM, not partly for his bank account! My boyfriend has been broke for the 2 years I've been with him, and I know I'll pay for the house and the kids (as I already do the food and travel... etc) - but he's not broke because he's a lazy ass, a gambler, or a drunk, just because he's chosen a career that he loves but where it takes forever to make it. I admire him and because I love him I don't count the money. I don't care. And this is how it should be, because it's about LOVE. Argh, you really made me angry.
nikkeeb nikkeeb 9 years
No matter what the question, it always comes down to "Is it worth it?" Is being with him worth the financial stresses? Essentially that's what will make or break the relationship in the end - not the pressure itself, but if/when you decide it's no longer worth it.
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 9 years
yeah i'm young but i think i get it; but from a different perspective my boyfriend is also going to college; a really good private school and plans to go to law school afterwards; and i plan to also go to a private college (different from him) and probably grad school. the difference is; he's paying it himself, student loans and etc; and ive got parents who are willing and able to provide for me until i have finished school. so thats something ill also have to think about; but ill leave you with some words of wisdom my parents have given me. they came to the US as immigrants from the philippines; pretty much dirt poor; aka actually lived in a house with a dirt floor. they wanted something better for their offspring than they had themselves. my parents worked their butts off in the philippines and in the states and worked hard through grade school and college and medschool; and for a long time, had to live in relatives basements and such while doing their residency. they had a mattress and sleeping bag, and the only reason they got a new bed at all was because my mother was pregnant with me. but my dad told me one thing - as long as you have enough money to eat and youre lucky enough to have love - its all you need. my parents finished their residencies in chicago and new york city; obviously very expensive places to live; and eventually moved to las vegas; where we currently reside. the way i see it; if you really see a future with him and you both are going places; everything will take care of itself. theres also an element of compromise, i'm sure.
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
If you're thinking about marrying this guy you should be totally in love with him and his debt shouldn't be an issue. Or not a deal-breaker anyway. The fact that you're thinking about breaking it off with him over this is a huge red-flag. I hate to say it, but it probably won't work in the long run if you're not completely in love with each other.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
I think Bella pinpointed the problem. This isn't about debt so much as it is that he is transferring all of his stress ABOUT debt to you! You need to have a real talk with him and let him know that you can't just absorb all the stress he's dealing with and he needs to find a healthier outlet (i.e. exercising or the like). Of course it's natural to tell your partner if something is bugging you but it sounds like you're getting more than your fair share and that isn't right. Work on that some more and hopefully his stress about student loans (and taking it out on you) will dissipate.
Personally, I think that if you love someone, you will accept all the trials and tribulations that come with them. If you don't love him, don't put yourself through the stress of him establishing himself as a genuine person, but since when did being a teacher become a bad thing? Not everyone falls in love and marries a doctor or lawyer, with no debt attached. If you happen to dump him, and find a man that is already financially etablished, he could be an ass. Don't take what you have for granted, because when it's gone, you may never find anything like it.
foudini foudini 9 years
sunnynight made some great points about looking beyond the student debt to overall spending habits. That is a far better indicator of what his financial decision making will do down the road. That being said, let's say you pass on him and meet a great guy who does not have massive student loans. You get married and buy a home. It's great! Then, one day, BAM! something catastrophic happens and one of you is completely incapacitated. There are hundreds of thousands of medical bills that insurance will only partly cover, your household income dwindles to one supporter, you lose your home and lifestyle because you cannot afford it anymore, the three-day-a-week caregiver is stretching your funds to the limit... The point is, no matter what you do in life, something can always happen and create financial disaster. Take the person's spending and saving habits into consideration and be sure to have a separate account for emergencies only. Read all your insurance plans carefully and have a backup "what-if" plan for yourselves.
herjoiedevivre herjoiedevivre 9 years
make sure he spends his money responsibly- if he even does that, that might help to quell your fears.oh, and that he stops making you his personal stress punching bag. uncool.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Money is the number one thing that we fight about. That said, You guys need to go see a financial counselor, or sit down and talk budgets for the future. Alot of people deal with 100,000 or more in debt for loans/school and they learn to get through it. If you are the type that likes living large, than i would say dont go on with the relationship or you will just be stressed out and feel gyped, if you love your man more than your things i think it will work out. Kids and the house will come later.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
I'm going to be the poopypants here and say that no debt is "good" debt. While some, like student-loan debt, is not as financially disastrous as usury-level credit card debt, it's still a LOT of money. I agree that you shouldn't punish him for furthering his schooling, and besides, it's only been eight months—who knows what the future will bring? But if you do decide to marry, this seems like something you two will have to discuss. At that point, you could talk about the repayment plan (how soon do you want to pay it off? 10 years? 30 years?) and what kind of financial sacrifices you're both willing to make. For instance, if *you* want to pursue higher education at a similar cost, how will you two handle that? And I highly recommend calculating what the debt repayment amount will be each month. It's almost always more than what you'd think. Then, look at the average take-home pay for a teacher with his degree. What portion of the monthly budget will that be? How will you two budget together? Honestly, it sounds like the issue isn't the money as much as the way he handles stress. You say that you're his outlet for frustration and stress—which is not a good thing. More than the debt issue, THAT is the issue that would make me wonder if he's the right guy. Money can be dealt with, but someone who deflects his stress on you? I don't know if I'd want to deal with that. Whew! (Can you tell that I'm really into personal finance on the side?)
getstinko getstinko 9 years
what is a "monica" tentacy?
cgmaetc cgmaetc 9 years
As someone with a lot of student loans, I can tell you it really hasn't been a big deal. Student loan debt is quite common, and if you manage the rest of your finances well, it's shouldn't put a big crimp on your credit. I've been able to secure cars, credit cards, and a home despite my large student loan debt. It's not as bad as all that. In fact, it's been a boon. Paying on time has helped my credit score and helped me establish a good credit history. And Word, ControlledSpin: if this were a guy writing, we'd be all down his throat.
controlledspin controlledspin 9 years
I can see all sides of this, but I have to say that if a woman was writing and said that a man dumped her because of her debt from trying to further her education, I think there would be a lot of "what a jerk" type comments. I think he just needs to be responsible. Debt is a must for schooling if you don't have the $ from your parents.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
I don't agree with DearSugar on this. My sister is going through almost the exact same thing, only she is married to the guy. And it seems they are on the verge of divorce because of these financial nightmares. I think being in a stable relationship is extremely important in today's world. The cost of living is insanely high and if he cannot provide at least for 50% of the shared finances how does that make a good relationship? He is in serious debt and it will ultimately drive the two of you apart. I'd say don't count on marrying this guy because he's going to be paying off those loans the rest of his life and so will you if you marry him. Is that what you want your hard work and energy going to?
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I'm in about $60,000 of student debt. It's part of life and you deal with it. The idea is that you get a decent job AFTER college.. and that is how you pay them back. =) It doesn't become your debt. Just like my boyfriend's won't become mine or mine his.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
Education loans are considered an investment! 100K is a very typical number for college grads in the US no matter what your degree is. College loans also have low interest so the payments shouldn't kill you two. This is manageable. If you find yourself a billionaire it won't gaurantee you a stress free life so calm down. At least his debt is an investment for his and his family future. Yes he is worth it a bigger plus is that he was honest with you about his loans. I don't think you should stress about this.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
katlovesclothes makes a great point... student loans debt and credit card are very different.
katlovesclothes katlovesclothes 9 years
Debt will be a factor in any relationship, for both people. Education is generally "good debt" because it is an investment in both of your futures. There are additional options and supports (scholarships! grants! tax breaks... ) and college loans exist on MANY credit repots. As long as payments are arranged properly and paid on time, it won't affect immediate credit ratings or endanger him from say, getting a car or an apartment. It is NOT the same as credit-card debt! If you told me he had $100,000.00 in purchasing debt- I't tell you to run screaming! Please both of you focus- invest in the education, on studies, and networking within school in order to be informed and connected- this will be a great asset in the present and in the future when looking for work!
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
First of all, about his debt, it may all depend on where he becomes a teacher at. If he is becoming a Professor he would make the most money at a private university (as with private schooling in general) but on the flip side Public schools and colleges alike do not pay well and probably would result in him taking longer than anticipated to pay off those loans. Second, College loans that are in the 100k's might seem scary, but in reality if he is a responsible adult and is on top of paying his loans back it probably wont hurt him or you if you two do get married. It may be beneficial to (when and if you decide to get married or move in together)decide what you will do about the bills. Maybe you will pay rent/mortgage and he will pay for the utilities or split the utilities and he pays for his debt and half of something else.
Marseeah Marseeah 9 years
Student loans are the good kind of debt - low interest, low payments. I know a lot of people who came out of college with $200k in student loans - and who are financially responsible, still have fun, and are on top of their debt. I know that the number sounds huge, but it's not a bad situation to be in.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
I agree with Sugar that this is something you shouldn't worry about for a while. Most people I know have student loans that they will be paying off for a long time, and while this is a large amount, it shouldn't be something that keeps you from being with him. Unless he is financially unstable in the future and isn't being smart and paying them off....THEN worry about it. Not now.
mcreverie mcreverie 9 years
I'm not sure if it's just the people I hang out with, but a lot of my friends have a lot of debt from their education costs (yes, over 100K) and it's totally normal in my social circle. Granted, they all go to law schools, medical schools, business schools, or to pursue PhD-ish programs, so it's ok because they are going to pay it all off easily when they become rich in the future. I know you're in a different situation because teachers aren't known to make too much money (even though they really should!) Honestly, however, you need to spend money to make money, and education is always a good investment. He's a smart guy for wanting to get finish school. Don't punish him for that.
sunnynight sunnynight 9 years
First of all, Rebbecca, I'm glad you're thinking of your potential financial situation as early as now. The #1 thing married couples fight over is money, after all. I agree with Dear. You should stay with the guy as long as you're both happy, but you should definitely take a long hard look at how he plans to pay off that debt. Look at his spending habits now: does he spend responsibly, pay his bills on time, etc. If he's already responsible about those things, then he'll probably be able to manage that $100,000 debt--with lots of loving support from you, of course. If he ISN'T responsible now, well, that's not a good sign for your future. At all.
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