A significant debt or a sexually transmitted disease (STD): which one would be a bigger deal breaker in a potential dating partner? A recent survey conducted by SoFi found that, for a surprising number of millennials, the answer is debt.
Nobody would be eager to disclose either one of those conditions to a potential mate, but the SoFi survey found that if given a choice between disclosing an STD or their level of debt, 39% of millennials would choose to reveal the STD. This age group was greatly affected by the Great Recession, and it appears that their aversion to debt is strong.
Even if a millennial finds a partner that will accept debt, he or she must understand how the debt can affect the relationship. Certified Financial Planner® Leisa Peterson offers money management advice that is applicable to bringing debt to a relationship: “Take a moment to…really understand not just how they feel about it, but also how it’s affecting the other person.” Someone who loves you in spite of your debt may be reluctant to discuss it honestly with you.
Debt has more tangible effects on a relationship, especially with respect to joint accounts. Excessive debt can harm your credit score. While the credit histories and scores of both participants in a relationship are separate, joint accounts are not by definition. “If you apply for joint credit,” says Rod Griffin, Director of Public Education at Experian, “both of [your] credit histories are going to be considered, and as a result, your bad history could drag down your ability to qualify for joint accounts, mortgage loans, and other kinds of joint agreements.”
It’s important to deal with debt as soon as possible, because the same compounding principles that make your investments grow will also make your debts grow if you don’t take immediate steps to correct the situation. If you are a millennial dealing with deal-breaking debt, how do you go about correcting the situation to avoid scaring off potential mates? We can offer some advice on debt relief (but not STD relief).
Start with a realization: if you didn’t have enough discipline to avoid excessive debt in the first place, you probably will not be able to get out of that debt without some help and advice. Author and Financial Educator Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche puts it bluntly: “Get a professional to help you…just like you wouldn’t set your own leg if you broke it, don’t fix your own money [problems] by yourself if you have not been educated in how to do so.”
A wide variety of financial experts could help you, but make sure you do research on any expert that you choose. Anyone can claim to be an expert. Ask for certifications and references as proof.
Are you more of a DIY sort? Remember Aliche’s advice, and educate yourself on basic budgeting. A realistic budget is the baseline for any debt reduction program. By setting a budget, you must analyze your income and expenses in detail over an extended period of time, and you will start to see where money can be saved. After tracking expenses for a short time, you will be amazed at how much the little expenses add up.
Budgeting will also establish the habits of dedicating a certain amount of your income to reducing your debt and making that debt reduction a priority. Sticking to a budget will eventually become a habit itself. Your new skills will change your former debt liability into an attractive money management asset for any potential mate.
We leave you with a final bit of advice about both debt and STDs — your best line of defense is prevention. Both situations are easy to acquire; both are difficult (and potentially painful) to eradicate.