By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
I am a 23-year-old female who is in a relationship with a 30-year-old man. We have been together for the past four years and now have a 1-year-old together. He also has one child from a previous relationship. He has a career in the Navy and is planning to make rank again in the fall. In the past few years, I have noticed that he is horrible with finances. He has little to no savings and he also pays a good sum in child support. He loves designer brands.
Our respective upbringings were completely different. I grew up the only child while he grew up in a not-so stable environment. After talking about it for a while now we have decided that we would like to purchase a home. Before making this decision he thinks he should buy a 2017 Jaguar. How can I talk him out of this horrible decision and make him realize that investing in real estate would be a great move?
Dazed and Confused in Virginia
Dear Dazed and Confused,
You have two issues on your hands here: One is emotional and one is financial. To fix one, you have to address the other, and vice versa. I have one theory, but there may be a thousand more. Growing up, he may have felt anxiety or shame about coming from an unstable background and, perhaps, appearances were important to him and/or his family.
Hiding family drama or financial problems at home could have taken a toll on his emotional health. He may still be that scared, insecure boy who needs to show the world that he is, in fact, not worth less than anyone else. Designer brands and a 2017 Jaguar could be the latest “fix” to help him not feel like that. Forgive my “pop psychology” response.
Whatever the reason, you need to sit down and figure out a plan. Before you commit to buying a home, list your savings, income and expenditures. It will help him to see his reality in black and white. There’s nothing like cold, hard data to bring a carefree or careless consumer back down to earth. Every purchase he makes for himself is money that could be invested in your future.
A gentle word of warning for you: Don’t make possibly the biggest investment of your life with someone who cannot demonstrate fiscal responsibility. If he fails to pay his share, you will be responsible for the mortgage. If you can’t afford the monthly payments without him, you could both lose your home. Tread very carefully before signing on that dotted line.
I hope you can navigate the next phase of your life and your relationship. The solution may be that he needs to agree to check with you before making any more purchases. It’s time for your boyfriend to realize that, in addition to child support, he also must pay his own fair share of family support. Just because the latter is not court mandated does not make it optional.
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