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He's bad with money

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  March 6, 2012 08:29 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

I have been with my boyfriend for a little over 2.5 years. We started out very passionate and head over heels for each other. He's very kind, understanding, funny, handsome, and intelligent. My family and friends adore him. But lately, when I sit down and think about our future together, it's hard to envision.

This is due to the fact that he has very, very, very poor money management skills and is always spending too much on short term things (a new truck, bars, clothes) and never saving for a ring, a home, and the things I am looking toward now. There have been times when he leaned very heavily on me for financial support while living together to the point where I told him that once our lease was up he would have to move home.

We are currently living apart but he is over my place the majority of the time. I tried to help him manage his money, but as a 27-year-old managing her own finances that involve two school loans as well as several weddings a year, it became frustrating and hard for me to stay on top of him about these things.

This has all had an effect on my participation in the bedroom, and it's the first time I've ever experienced that. He's in the midst of a career change after recently being laid off from work. He's looking for a more secure job with good benefits. But I worry that even with a new career the problems will still persist, a life of financial insecurity. This has left me feeling angry, frustrated and asking myself if there's something I should be doing to help him. I would love to get a clear, objective answer on how to handle this situation.

– Should I Stay or Should I Go, Boston


A: I'm confused about the plan, SISOSIG. Is he supposed to move back in at some point? Does he know that you're hoping for a ring and a home? Does he know that you want those things soon?

My advice is to have a big talk with him about what's next. Ask him where he wants to be in five years. Married to you? In a house? Does he share these goals at all? My guess is that the lack of planning for a future together has tainted the whole bedroom situation.

Don't ask him these questions in an angry voice, by the way. He's unemployed right now and can't take that stress. Ask him in an excited voice. The conversation should be about dreams, not demands.

If he says that he likes things the way they are, there's your answer. If he says that he doesn't know what he wants, that's also a pretty clear answer. If he says that he wants the ring and the house, tell him that you want to go with him to a premarital financial adviser to figure out how all of this great stuff can happen. Those financial advisers exist, and they're trained to teach young couples how to live within their means and contribute to the same goals. It's so much easier to have a third party ask about spending habits and debt.

Your boyfriend might get defensive about going to a professional, especially because he's still out of work. Let him know that you're willing to wait to make an appointment until he's employed. All you need to know is that he's willing to go. After 2.5 years together, money is still a source of stress. You need to get in front of a professional to find out how to deal, and if he won't go with you, you'll be able to make an informed decision about staying or, more likely, going.

Readers? Should she just go now? Does this money stuff work itself out once you get a little older? Has anyone visited a financial adviser with a partner? Can anyone talk about how their spending habits changed from 27 to 37? What's happening here? Help.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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