T Nation

Advice on Relationship and Finances


#1

I've been dating a girl on and off for the past year and a half. Although I dated many women prior to her, she was the first one who I developed feelings for. Despite this, the relationship has never been consistent or official. She has wanted a relationship from the beginning, but I have continually struggled with the idea of commitment for multiple reasons. We've been spending more time together lately and it has been great, but I'm still hesitant.

We are in very different financial situations. I graduated from an undergrad program a few years back, have a good career, and live comfortably. I live a fairly simple lifestyle and consistently invest most of my spare income into long-term investments. I'm not overly frugal or cheap, but I understand the importance of money and the benefits of investing as much as possible early in life.

She is educated and working on her graduate degree, but she seems to have no regard for debt or maintaining any savings. She has been taking out loans throughout her undergraduate and graduate programs and likely has a large amount of debt. Despite this, she wants to continue school following the graduate degree and apply for doctorate programs. The educational path has questionable job opportunities. She works currently, but it is a part-time job with mediocre pay.

I've grown accustomed to paying every time we go out. She's fairly simple and never demands anything extravagant, so I tend to sympathize with her financial situation and foot the bill. This doesn't bother me too much, but it definitely limits the things that I want to do with her. She'll sometimes suggest going on a trip together. Although this sounds appealing, I know that I'll be paying for two flights, hotels, and everything else. I think it's the principle of it rather than the spending the actual money.

I've also noticed that whenever I show more commitment to her, she starts to bring up her financial struggles. She has never point-blank asked for help, but she has dropped hints about how difficult it is to pay all of her bills. I've been blunt with her in the past and recommended that she take a few years off from school, develop a career and some sort of savings, and then start back. I understand the importance of education and the difficulty in going back, but I've delayed my graduate studies until I have confidence that I can pay it upfront. But, she refuses to consider this and wants to continue her education.

From a financial standpoint, she's a horrible investment. Assuming I did become serious with her, I can expect to pay for everything for the next 3 years while she's in school. By the time this is over, she will probably have $100k+ in debt.

What is your opinion on this situation? Am I being too shallow and analytical about this? Or, is it a good idea to move on? I've dated girls in the past who paid everything 50/50 and it was great. It made traveling and doing recreational activities much more fun. Of course, they had other flaws about them.


#2

The best investment you could make right now is a contractor-grade Hefty bag to stuff her fucking carcass in.


#3

Just be truthful and honest, if you can't do that and be comfortable why be in a relationship.


#4

Don't sweat paying for everything. You've got more resources, no debt and your a gentleman right? It's not like you have to spend a lot of money anyway. Just do some things with her that you'd like to do anyway and pay for it. Stay in and/or socialize with friends. All that's good and nothing has to be expensive. If she pushes you to spend on her like she's a princess that tells you something. If the hints she's giving you about wanting help are in the realm of wanting to move in so she can reduce the debt she's accumulating, that's telling you something completely different.

The debt is a whole different ball game. If you're serious or think you could be serious you need to sit down with her an make a plan. If she's on a PhD track she's probably likely to be a good wage earner at some point but debt should be managed to a realistic degree based on what she will eventually earn. Figure out the numbers and make sure it's worth while.

It might be worth it for her to pile up the debt and get the degree fast or it might be better for her to work to pay for her schooling and take longer. Are their grants she can get for grad school? When my wife was in grad school they paid her. As matter of fact they paid her well enough she was able to pay off her undergrad loans while she was in grad school. Can she get any deals like that?

Whatever you do don't marry excessive debt.


#5

Thanks. I haven't inquired too much into her finances. She hasn't been direct about asking for assistance, but the comments she has made definitely set off some alarms.

The return-on-investment of her degree plan is the questionable part. I'm not sure exactly what she's going for, but it's not a hard science that leads to guaranteed lucrative job opportunities. I've brought this up, but she dismisses it and says that she's more concerned about being happy in her career than making a high income.

I feel like she would be better off investing a few years into developing a career and finding an employer with generous tuition reimbursement programs. She claims that she refuses to let anything get in the way of her educational goals. This may just be well-intentioned tunnel vision that is causing her to ignore other potential options. Or, she may be less innocent than I assume and her long term plan is to find a man who's willing to take care of her debt after she graduates...hence the lack of concern.


#6

Thoughts:

  • I think maybe how risky this is depends partly on how well you can ascertain what her beliefs are as they pertain to marriage and divorce; what her beliefs are; and how good is she at living up to her major beliefs. If she thinks divorce and remarriage are ok, or if she tends to give in and do things that conflict with her major beliefs, then committing a chunk of your life to paying off her $100,000 debt is a bigger risk than if neither of those is the case.

  • She does seem to make getting as much formal education as possible as soon as possible a higher priority than you do, and is much more comfortable being in a worse financial position for the sake of it than you are.

  • If you break off with somebody unsuitable that you have feelings for, it will hurt for some period of time, maybe even a few years, but in the long run will probably be less painful. On the other hand, I don't know that this particular difference between you makes her unsuitable, and dropping someone you love over differences that could have been lived with or worked around could leave you with some serious long-term regrets.

  • I don't know crap about relationships, so take everything I wrote with a grain of salt.


#7

Another thing to consider: if she highly values formal education without regard to cost and you stay with her and have children with her, if the children want to pursue Phd's in non-renumerative fields she might expect you to kill yourself paying for it.


#8

She's running the poor college kid game well past its justifiable life. See if she will even make a token effort towards doing something nice for you. If she doesn't, dump her.

But not before you piihb.


#9

How old are you both? I'm assuming 24-26.


#10

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#11

You are looking at a relationship like a financial investment. There are certain aspects that are good to be aware of, such as her student loans and possible debt she has accrued, but I can tell you this, if you don't absolutely, more than anything want to be with this girl, or any girl, then you should not continue with the relationship.

You're thinking about it like a financial thing right now, what about thirty years from now? or sixty? You still going to want to be with her? No. But like I said, it is smart to look at those things, but if you are considering continuing a relationship because of finances, you care more about money than her. I'm not saying that in a judgmental way it's just the way it is. Hold out for a girl that you would go broke for.


#12

Can you get specific about the numbers?

My sister got a pharmacy degree and has $170k in debt (yup) and after her monthly payment, she pulls in slightly more than I do as an engineer (I have no debt)

But, just like it was mentioned previously, after that debt is paid off she will be Pulling in crazy amounts of money. Of course it depends on what the degree is for, find out exactly what she is going for. And if she gives you the "happy with my career" bullshit, first laugh in her face, then tell her that there's a lot of homeless hipsters that once said the same thing when they were going to school and that you can't pay off debt with happiness.


#13

I agree with everyone in thinking you should be more upfront with her. What is her field? I don't need to know the specifics of her degree, but psych? History? Economics?

As for the money, I might ask her if she thinks you guys are starting to get serious. If she says anything like "yes" or "maybe" I would say "can we talk about money?" Because it's one of the biggest sources of conflict for couples and the time to understand one another's perspectives is now, not later. Clear and respectful communication is the key to relationship success. You don't have to have the same outlook on money and spending and debt, you just have to be clear as to where everyone stands and what each person's responsibility is.


#14

Quit beating around the bush and tell us what she is getting her degree in and what she plans on getting a doctorate in. What field is she actually trying to get into?


#15

No, finances show into someone's character. Unless she is willing to let you control her finances, and follow your instructions to stop taking out loans, save, make a career, &c. i would refrain from making any more commitments to this woman as of now. Money is a huge deal in marriage, if you get married and she continues to act financially as she does she will have almost single handedly ruined your relationship. This is like knowingly marrying someone that does drugs or something.


#16

Ugh, I know how this ends:

Undergrad > Masters > Doctorate > Kids

She will never work and you will always have to pay for everything.


#17

Dr. Mom


#18

...including her student loans.


#19

Show her this thread...


#20

I truly don't know what doctorate program she's going for, but it's something along the lines of sociology/psychology/criminology. Based on the career success of those I know who have undergraduate and graduate degrees in these fields, I struggle to take this seriously. It would be a completely different story if she was putting herself into this situation to be an MD or something similar.