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A reader wants to convince her parents that her boyfriend shouldn't be judged on his lack of money.

2 minute read

Question: My family is well off. We live in a big house on the water, and my parents drive his-and-her BMWs. I graduate from college this December with no student loans, but my boyfriend has around $20,000 in loans and come from a hardworking family that can’t afford to help him out.

Here’s the issue: We want to get married in the next couple years, but my parents are not supportive. They say his poor financial position will hold me back. The thing is, he’s quite frugal and my parents are not. I remember growing up hearing plenty of fights about money, and fetching the mail and seeing many FINAL NOTICE statements.

How can I convince my parents that my boyfriend may not have any money right now, but he’s actually quite good with the money he does have?

— Morgan in Florida

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

You hit on a problem that I’ve been talking about for decades. Namely, debt isn’t just a poor person’s problem.

Sadly, with nearly $1 billion in credit card debt and more than that in student loan debt, this country is hurting across the socio-economic spectrum.

You’re quite right to look at more than just income, Morgan. I’ve counseled many families who earned six figures but also had six figures in debt. I’ve even counseled indebted families who receive a massive inheritance — only to see them again a few years later, after they spent every dime and gotten themselves back in debt again.

Last month, I told NBC News

Let’s be honest, any debt is toxic to your love life. I’ve counseled couples on their finances for more than two decades, and I’ve seen debt nearly destroy their relationships — especially when one partner has a lot and the other has little or none.

Crushed by student loan debt and worried you’ll never pay it off? There is help available.

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Notice I said “debt” and not “money.”

Here’s what I recommend you try with your parents. First, sign up for PowerWallet or Mint. Both are free online money management tools. Debt.com partners with PowerWallet because I think it visualizes your money better and is a little easier to use, but it doesn’t really matter which you choose.

Once you input your data, you can click a button and see your finances laid out in stark terms. Show your parents and your boyfriend how to do the same.

I have a sneaking suspicion that once all three of you call up your PowerWallet accounts side by side, your parents will see they have just as much debt, if not more, than your boyfriend.

Of course, they’ll argue their income is much higher, which is true. Then again, they’re closer to retirement, and I doubt they’re well prepared. As you can see, this is the beginning of an honest conversation about debt, one your family never has had before. That’s a good thing, both for the present and the future. If it helps, show your parents this column, and if they wish, they can call Debt.com at 1-800-810-0989 for a free debt analysis.

Bottom line, Morgan: You got a good head on your shoulders, so follow your heart.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC