I’m a money person. I budget, I’m always working on lowering my debt level, and I like managing my money. My first marriage had already failed, partially due to money issues, so when I started seriously dating my current husband I had some difficult decisions to make.
We began dating in 2009, just as the country was beginning to recover from the financial crisis. My boyfriend had done very well for himself prior to the crisis, but he was in the construction industry and was hit really, really hard when everything dropped. He owned three homes when the recession hit, and by the time I came along, he was in the process of completing his third short sale.
I knew based on our conversations that he wasn’t a crazy spender and had similar views as me on money. I felt confident that overspending and craziness hadn’t gotten him into his financial mess and I trusted him. However, he didn’t pay attention to money like I did, and I didn’t know exactly what else he had sitting out there on his credit report.
At the same time, I had been managing my money pretty well and had a near-perfect credit score. I had just over $115,000 in debt, but most of that was my home. Plus, I had been living on 50 percent of my income and was radically paying down that debt.
Of course, I wasn’t nearly as perfect as I’m making myself sound, but I was making some good financial decisions and knew that I didn’t want to get married and end up with a huge mess on my hands. So, when we started to get serious, I asked to exchange credit reports.
The request wasn’t a shock to him. He knew how anal I was about my personal finances and totally understood my logic. He wasn’t 100 percent sure he didn’t have any old stuff out there he had forgotten about and wanted to make sure everything was clean on his report, just like I did.
I still remember the day we sat down and went over our reports. It turned out to be anticlimactic, since they were both pretty boring, aside from his short sales.
Check Out: My Ex Hid Her Debt and It Cost Us Both
In the moment, I felt really stupid for asking to see his report. It showed a lack of trust on my part. However, the peace and security it gave me was 100 percent worth the embarrassment of asking. Now I share that story all the time and regularly tell people to do the same thing I did, particularly as they get older and begin to accumulate assets.
Although I had this one moment of brilliance, I wasn’t as smart as I thought, since we ended up purchasing a new home together in my name. Between his debt, my debt and our new home, we started our marriage with $446,000 worth of debt — stupid, stupid, stupid.
I still look back and wonder what in the world was I thinking. We could have easily lived in my 1,500 square foot home for a few years and started out our marriage on much better financial footing. But now, nine years later with a huge focus on debt reduction, we only owe $102,000 on our home. Live and learn, right?
I know it is difficult to focus on the financial aspects of new relationships, but it is really important to have tough financial discussions before you get married. Ask to see your significant other’s credit report and get the discussion started today. Trust me, once you are married, those conversations don’t get any easier.
Click through to read the why one couple isn’t combining finances when they get married.
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