This week: A man has a dirty little secret he's keeping from the love of his life.

Question: I want to ask my girlfriend to marry. Trust me, she wants that, too. She’s not subtle with the hints. (I dread walking by jewelry stores in the mall, because now she makes lots of comments about the rings in the windows.)

Thing is, I have A LOT of debt. I got like $20K in student loans, plus another $10K on my credit cards. My girlfriend is thrifty and has MAYBE $500 a month she carries on her credit cards. If she knew how bad off I am, I’m not sure what she’d say.

It’s worse because we’ve been dating a year, and I haven’t mentioned it before. What do I do now? Seriously, am I screwed?

— Ryan in Maine

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fastNo, Ryan. You’re not “screwed.” In fact, if you use the right debt-busting tools, you can hammer away at your student loans and nail down those credit card bills.

First, though, let me reassure you: This is one of the most common questions posed to personal finance experts. Don’t believe me? Here’s my friend Steve Rhode, better known as the Get Out of Debt Guy. He explains a similar case he heard…

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Now let’s actually tackle your debt issues.

Debt.com once compiled a bunch of studies under the provocative headline, Money Is Why Your Marriage Will Fail. the best way to avoid that is with professional help. No, I’m not talking marriage counseling. I’m talking about credit counseling.

With a free phone call, you can explore the pros and cons for a host of legitimate credit card solutions, so you can find the right one for you.

Same goes for student loans, where there are several federal programs for lowering your payments or even wiping them out entirely. Each has its peculiarities, but a professional debt counselor can line you up with the perfect one for your situation.

In more than two decades of hearing stories just like yours, Ryan, I’ve learned this: You don’t need to complete these programs to get a “yes, I’ll marry you” from your girlfriend. If the relationship is sound, she’ll be impressed that you consulted professionals and are well on your way to financial responsibility.

So if you call 1-888-472-0365 today, by next month, you’d have a lot of solid evidence for your girlfriend.

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Have a debt question?

Email your question to editor@debt.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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couples, credit card debt, marriage, student loans

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Article last modified on June 22, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Ask The Expert: How Do I Tell My Fiancee? [video] - AMP.