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How Can I Help My Boyfriend Manage Money?

Ask Savvy: My Boyfriend's Bad Money Habits Are Problematic

Dear Savvy,

I recently moved in with my boyfriend, and we have been discussing marriage and all that comes with it. In the next two years, we'd like to purchase a house. The problem is that I have excellent credit and his is in serious disrepair after his parents "forgot" to pay his student loans. The loans went into collection, but he is not making regular monthly payments as he should. He works two jobs and uses this as an excuse to justify "forgetting" to pay his electricity bill until the company calls to disconnect it. Yet he seems to have no problem remembering to have money for going out or attending bachelor parties.

I've tried to remain calm, but I'm afraid his finances will never shape up. He wants us to take a vacation to go snowboarding in December, which will cost upwards of $2,000 per person, but I think the money could be better spent on paying down his loans. He's told all his friends that we're going even though we have yet to purchase the tickets. I'm afraid he'll resent me if I suggest that we put off a vacation or the other things he wants, which I think are unnecessary like a new TV. How can I help him manage his finances better so that we can achieve our future goals while still having fun in the present?

To see my answer,


Savvy says: While the two of you have agreed on a near-future goal of purchasing a home, you're obviously the only one taking it seriously. Your boyfriend isn't taking responsibility for his finances, so try not to feel like the bad guy for not going along with his impulses to do things he can't afford. Just because you're clashing right now doesn't mean your goals are doomed, but he needs to step up and stop ignoring his financial obligations.


Instead of suggesting that your boyfriend can't do certain things, volunteer to help him set up a plan that would allow him to pay his bills while saving up for fun trips. Explain that his debt will always be a problem if he doesn't start dealing with it now, and express how his financial decisions are stressing you out. You say you fear your boyfriend will resent you if you don't want a new TV, but you'll end up resenting each other if you don't start seeing eye to eye on money issues.

Sit down together and make a list of all of his fixed monthly expenses, including a set amount for debt repayment. Then, divide the remainder of his income between two other accounts: discretionary income to be used for things like eating out and going to the movies, and a savings account to start building an emergency fund. It might be a good idea for your boyfriend to set up another separate savings account for things like trips and big purchases — whatever money he doesn't use from the discretionary account could be moved into this special savings account at the end of each month or pay period.

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Join The Conversation
dikke-kus dikke-kus 8 years
Well he sounds like a hard worker. Two jobs. A college degree. OK well he's a bit immature. Probably a great guy, but not used to facing reality. I would follow Savvy's advice. Get one of those planners and see if you can get his attention for an hour. Tell him you'd like a vacation savings account. Tell him you can put $50 a month into it or something. Find those letters from the debts and open them up on the table. Arrange a small auto debit amount for him out of his checking. With the electric bill set up the auto payment on line. I have that for myself. That has to be payed, so you might as well. If you do just a couple things like that it might help.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
GET OUT OF THERE, NOW. Seriously. Relationships where people are not on the same page with money tend to be rough and will probably eventually lead to a dissolution. Your boyfriend *knows* what he should be doing with the money he makes, he just doesn't *want* to. If it takes things getting shut off for him to start paying bills...just no. He needs to grow up and take care of his responsibilities, including his loans and bills. If he can't understand that those things are important for HIMSELF, much less your future's time to go. And don't offer to "help him out" with those things. That is the *fastest* way to ruin your good credit. You don't want to be stuck not being able to get good credit because of him. There are SO many people who have been hurt and bankrupted because of a partner/spouse that was irresponsible with money. There are people out there that FIND others with good credit to leech off of and ruin. The OP should watch that Maxed Out episode where the chick was spending all kinds of money and her boyfriend wanted to settle down with her but wouldn't because of her mismanagement of money - she finally got it together after some hemming and hawing, but her and the b/f still broke up.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
It sounds like he doesn't really know what's involved in managing money well. You need to discuss things with him and let him know what's entailed in buying a home and maintaining good credit, otherwise you'll end up fighting about money all the time and you'll really resent him for spending money he doesn't have.
Dhorwich Dhorwich 8 years
I've not only dated this guy, but I've lived with him. I hoped he'd change, in part with me leading by example with my good spending/saving habits but in the end he just dragged me down with him - and I resented him for things like spending money on a Wii when he could hardly pay rent, let alone his school loans. Be realistic about your expectations, offer to help him get his finances in order with a budget and you'll know very quickly where his priorities lie, like the other ladies said. Good luck!
supercoolnat supercoolnat 8 years
He needs to grow up. For someone to be so irresponsible with money, I don't see how he can seriously be thinking about marriage or buying a house. Even the living together thing - I think you've taken a serious risk moving in with someone who refuses to acknowledge the reality of his finances. It's no longer only his life that is impacted by not paying bills, it's yours too. You guys need to sit down and have a serious adult conversation about the money situation and how it impacts your relationship and your future.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
You shouldn't be afraid about discussing whats stressing you out rg. the relationship. You are so worried about how he will feel if you try to talk to him, but how are YOU going to feel down years down the line when all YOUR money is gone because you spend it on stuff for the TWO of you because he's always "broke" but can afford to go partying with his boys every weekend? I say swallow that fear, (wo)man-up and just talk to him. Maybe you two can resolve things and strengthen your relationship if he is willing (and shows you he is) that he wants to change. If you approach him and he isn't willing to change, to me, that says A LOT about how he really values you.
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