Should I help my girlfriend pay off her debt?

97 Replies

BTW this is my first post!

I am 22 and have been saving up for my first property, I currently have 23k saved in cash and I am saving $2800 a month that I am adding to that total. I want to buy a single family property and live in a trailer on the side of the house while renting the house out. This would be paid for and only in my name, but I would have my girlfriend stay with me.

She has 35k in student loans and is about to incur even more. When we get married and eventually combine finances I am unsure of how to approach her debt pay down. Should I continue investing my savings? Should I dump all my extra cash into the debt? Should I not help at all?

If you are my son: no you don't payoff a girlfriend's debt. When you are married, then talk about it. What line of work will she have to pay it off after college?

Yeah I would agree that until married don't pay towards her loans. My fiancee and I get married in a few months. I plan on focusing on my loans which will be done by the end of the year. We have had the conversation that once we are married I will focus on contributing to savings goals like Roth ira, down payment savings, etc. Then contribute leftover monthly income towards helping accelerate her loan pay down. 

@Benjamin Couch

Well if she's properly grateful, I don't see why not...


What are you thinking? What's her plan to pay off that debt without the Couch Foundation helping her out?

No! Let me repeat myself - No!

The most important thing you can do for your life is to buy a property.... If you guys remain together then maybe have a discussion. Has she asked? Would she accept? She'd better answer no to both of those .....

Originally posted by @Benjamin Couch :

To clarify I am only considering after we get married, not before. 

Still no. If she's a smart lady she would realize that your hard-earned money, is best spent on your future, in Real Estate. If she's getting into that much student loan debt, I'm sure she will have a great job and more than adequate income to pay off the loans herself.

So that's about $90k a year (national average) She should have no problem paying that back in a few years. Or she could take half her first year's salary and take care of it....You just keep saving and buy the right place as soon as it is wise to do so.

PS - If you buy before you get married, buy it in your name only. Don't be a sucker ;-)

@Benjamin Couch I don't know much about student loans but if the debt is or can be financed at a low rate just pay it off over time. Put the payment on autopilot and with inflation the payment will feel like less and less. Plus the government and some employers may step up to help. Then you'd be better off using your extra money to fund roths, etc. However, if stocks are not expected to yield much over the next decade and the interest rate is high that may change what is your best course.

@Benjamin Couch first of all, don’t get too caught up in what anyone here says. At the end of the day, it’s your relationship and what is right for you, may not be right for others (no disrespect to anyone else offering their advice on the situation). My personal opinion, I wouldn’t dump all of my savings into her debt. Focus on getting that first investment property first and if you want to help chip in and pay off her debt, more power to you, but make yourself and your goals priority #1.

NO is the short answer.  You have no idea what will happen down the road.  Buy your property.  If she's smart, that will cut down on her living expenses (I'm assuming she will be contributing the the housing) and allow her to take on less debt or pay off what she has.

With additional years of school, that debt is going to increase. If you can afford to buy places on your own, do it.  Once you are married, her debt may affect what you can do.

Who's plan are you following?

What will your vows say?  In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, so help you God?

or... With a prenup or else, only in good times, only when you're healthy and beautiful?

How committed are you?

@Benjamin Couch as a physical therapist I commend your girlfriend on her career choice. It is a very rewarding career that pays okay. I personally graduated with $80K in debt from a private school in Washington. That was 10 years ago, my wife supported our living expenses and I entered PT school with only $10k in debt. I could have done it cheaper but not a lot cheaper. 

If your girlfriend has 5 years left of school that means she has 2 more years to get her bachelor's and then 3 years of PT school to get her doctorate. Already having $35k in debt is a lot to start the rest of this journey with. I would start by talking with her about these numbers and how she intends to pay this off and minimize the expenses going further. From the very little information in these posts it appears that you two may view money differently.

The easy part is you deciding whether or not to pay off her debt. The hard part is having the deeper conversations about how each of you value money and what you want to use money for in your lives. Take time with these conversations (multiple, not trying to figure it all out in one conversation) so that you can genuinely see, from her perspective, how she views money. Disagreement in how to spend money is one of the primary reasons cited for divorce. Consider this issue carefully.

I hope this helps :)

NO not now. You would be using your future investment money to pay off her past money already spent. Once you're married, plan together how you two are going to manage your finances including debt payoff. For now help her study hard and research any possible sources of funding other than student loans, which are too easy to get, to fund her career. As the prior poster mentioned, getting on the same page about money as a couple is time well spent. Best wishes for a happy future together! 

@Benjamin Couch paying down her debt after you both get married makes sense. Very few married people keep their finances completely separated. Usually when you get married, you work together as a team on everything, including financial matters. I would work on your investments now and after she is out of school, start putting part of her salary towards debt pay down. 

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

 start putting part of her salary towards debt pay down. 

Yes....her salary would be the appropriate vehicle to pay off her debt.

Not saying a husband/wife shouldn't work together and all that, but she must have (should have) done the math before starting down this road. I.e., knowing that she was going to have X debt, but that her salary would be X, therefore no problem......

@Benjamin Couch

I like how all the guys here say no lol. As a girl myself, if I had a bf and he's so kind and generous enough to help me with my debt, I'd be forever grateful. However, I also don't recommend you doing that. You guys are still young, so start with understanding finances. Work on yourself, build an empire and if the relationship leads to marriage, then discuss about debt and how to approach it then.

Also, you don't want to establish her dependency on you so early on. Teach them how to fish, not giving them the fish. She will need to work on herself too. Good luck!

Let's put aside whether it's right or wrong from a social/moral/love perspective.  I say it's a hard NO purely due to the numbers.  Isn't the debt pushed off to the end of school?  What is the interest rate?  If you're doing things right in real estate your return on investment is going to be WAY WAY WAY higher (like high double digits higher) than the interest you'd save by paying it off.  

Buy a property and focus on yourself financially and her emotionally. Keep finances out of anything that makes you attractive to her. I would never pay off someones loans and would not consider them as marriage material if they asked, thats a major red flag. 

@Benjamin Couch

Ill be the outlier here.

We dont have enough information on your relationship, nor am i asking for it. But you have it!

I dont think marriage is all that important in the grand scheme of a relationship. I know many unmarried couples whove been together for decades. Should they not have combined finances? Theyre not religious and dont need the government involved in their relationship. Some raise children together etc. Marraige to me isnt the defining moment or action.

Now... if youve been together a week.. no.

If she has no interest in pursuing the same path as you... no

If youve been together for a while, have the same goals. Etc. Maybe. My fiancee and I own property together. We mingle some finances. Etc. This idea that you need the government to approve of your relationship is nonsense to me. If youre religious thats another story.

If you can start creating wealth for your future family, then why not. Have you thought of house hacking? Instead of a trailer, buy a duplex. Live in one and rent out the other.