Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

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cmiller0701
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Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by cmiller0701 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am

Mon September 11, 2018 9:10 a.m.

I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 2 years and now we're engaged. she took out massive amount of student loan debt (130k+) to pay for her graduate program and she had 25k from her undergrad. Her graduation Date is June 1, 2019 and our wedding date is August 4th, 2019 after she graduates. In contrast, I have been working and strategizing since I was 12 about how I would graduate debt free and I have done so with a bachelors in finance. I make 45k annually with life insurance, medical insurance, and retirement benefits. I own everything I have including my car and I have 10k in my savings, 5k for our wedding, and some precious medals. I have 799 credit score and have played the game to earn rewards for a lovely honeymoon. At my current position we could live off my salary and pay all of her future earnings to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, my wages won't increase dramatically at this position, but low cost of living offsets that fact for now.

I am very debt averse. I am frustrated by my fiancee's lack of understanding when it comes to numbers in general. She receives a surplus of money from her grad loans after accounting for her expenses and she then puts it in her bank account and thinks she's saving (7% compared to .01%). She has ballooned to 140k in Federal loans and still has yet to graduate. I have done extensive research and there are 2 options, refinance or PSLF. My only concern is the validity and stability of the PSLF program moving forward and my fiancee wanting a baby or babies during that period. If we went PSLF I would use the excess to dump into index funds as insurance if the PSLF program went awry. The PSLF will save us an extraordinary amount, compared to all other options. With medicare and social security headwinds in the future it seems 50/50 in terms of stability. I already know we won't get a home until our late 30s. Due to this uncertainty, I want to go private refinance. Furthermore, I want to dump savings at her loans asap. I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?

Beehave
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Beehave » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:58 pm

My opinion: You need to sit together and discuss and come to agreement on a financial plan going forward. If you can both agree, then take the march down the aisle.

Here's a hypothetical plan. Assuming you both earn about $45k per year and that you both can live on your salary, devoting $30k per year from her salary to loan payoff would succeed in about 5 years. This assumes there is agreement and follow-through on pretty much devoting her salary to loan payoff.

Assuming you are both in your early 20s, you could start having children, debt-free and even having saved a bit for retirement, while still in your twenties. This will be a no-frills time period. But you are starting out and eking out a living together, and improving over time is not at all the worst thing that can happen to a couple or their young and growing children.

Since you seem to be having some doubts, here's some advice:
- If the little voice or gnawing at your stomach is all and only about money (in other words, about whether the plan you've agreed to will work out as designed), the odds are strong that all the money issues can be fixed in a handful of years and you can live happily ever after (and she may even get the double golden-ring prize of a job with a pension and a loan-payoff provision).
- If the little voice or gnawing-feeling in your stomach is telling you that the two of you are incompatible and have different values that are going to be a constant source of misunderstanding and hurt (either you can't agree on a plan or you do not trust each other to follow through), then listen very, very carefully to that little voice.

Best wishes - - my hunch is that the two of you can and should make this all work out fine. It'll require clear, honest, two-way communication (intelligent, honest, open, listening and talking). And edited to add: and a little flexibility. It's important to be financially responsible, but remember that finances are an enabler and not an end-in-themselves.

chessknt
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by chessknt » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:13 pm

Is she frugal or a spendthrift? Lots of people make uninformed bad financial decisions in college and turn out fine later but it requires sacrifice--if she likes expensive things and isn't living like a student now I wouldn't expect that to change easily.

As far as this being a red flag--marriage requires work at all times. You're learning it a bit earlier than you probably deserve to but if you aren't interested in working with her to pay this off and help her learn from it then maybe this isn't the right move.

Hikes_With_Dogs
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Hikes_With_Dogs » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:17 pm

I would assume that a graduate degree in speech pathology would make a decent salary, I'd wager more than 45k annually.

As long as she is committed to paying it off after she graduates, I don't see what the problem really is. Is her general nature to be frugal, she just has an expensive education? Or does she spend every cent she gets without thinking twice?

Nate79
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Nate79 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:32 pm

What are the job prospects and potential salary range she is looking at? I question the PSLF as a route as likely she should be able to get a really good job and pay off the debt with your combined household income. Of course if she takes some low paying public service job things will be different but even then your household income will still be ok. But not sure why someone would take a low paying job just to save a little money in forgiveness.

LawEgr1
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by LawEgr1 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:06 pm

Beehave wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:58 pm
My opinion: You need to sit together and discuss and come to agreement on a financial plan going forward. If you can both agree, then take the march down the aisle.

Here's a hypothetical plan. Assuming you both earn about $45k per year and that you both can live on your salary, devoting $30k per year from her salary to loan payoff would succeed in about 5 years. This assumes there is agreement and follow-through on pretty much devoting her salary to loan payoff.

Assuming you are both in your early 20s, you could start having children, debt-free and even having saved a bit for retirement, while still in your twenties. This will be a no-frills time period. But you are starting out and eking out a living together, and improving over time is not at all the worst thing that can happen to a couple or their young and growing children.

Since you seem to be having some doubts, here's some advice:
- If the little voice or gnawing at your stomach is all and only about money (in other words, about whether the plan you've agreed to will work out as designed), the odds are strong that all the money issues can be fixed in a handful of years and you can live happily ever after (and she may even get the double golden-ring prize of a job with a pension and a loan-payoff provision).
- If the little voice or gnawing-feeling in your stomach is telling you that the two of you are incompatible and have different values that are going to be a constant source of misunderstanding and hurt (either you can't agree on a plan or you do not trust each other to follow through), then listen very, very carefully to that little voice.

Best wishes - - my hunch is that the two of you can and should make this all work out fine. It'll require clear, honest, two-way communication (intelligent, honest, open, listening and talking). And edited to add: and a little flexibility. It's important to be financially responsible, but remember that finances are an enabler and not an end-in-themselves.
Beehave is spot on. +100

I suspect Beehave was in a similar situation not unlike yours and that is the wisdom gained from it. Or, has witnessed it or coached those with this situation. Now I am another that was in that situation with the same advice. (Note: trend) Read on :arrow:

This is, foremost, a communication item. Then, upon agreement of the path forward by both parties, it's a problem that you and her have agreed upon to attack together in marriage. It's a communication item first because of the second hyphenated point that Beehave has outlined. This is your worst case scenario.

It is great you came here for advice. But now take the advice and talk with her.

Upon completion of understanding that you will both be in it together and have a plan in place for this debt, and everyone understands the strategy, goals, objectives and emotions, then you can execute that plan.

Additionally, don't pay a dime of your own money until that is satisifed.

I was engaged (now happily married, to avoid the suspense!) to a woman in law school; we weren't necessarily on the same page. We had different expectations on how to handle the debt. It wasn't as large as $140k, but a touch over six-figures. We came to the conclusion, after some challenging and frustrating conversations and ( :shock: - therapy) that financial items were such a detriment to our early marriage we could either divorce or move forward on the same page as one. Fortunately, we both worked together 100% because we knew we could make it work, and slammed all of our additional $$ each month in to those student loans and paid them off in a tremendously short amount of time. Turns out, she was already stressed about it and didn't want to talk about it, while I hammered her with questions on how to approach it and methods to reduce the debt ASAP. We both knew we wanted to get to the same place, but we couldn't communicate effectively on it. So, I'd estimate, just because she isn't engaged doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't care about her loans.

See, I, much like you, get stressed by large amounts in the debts column. But now? Those law school loans are gone (even though most of her peers are suffering from large debt amounts still), we're both completely on the same page with respect to finances and I'm glad we went through it. However, it just would've been better should that conversation been had prior to marriage. Also, she and I wanted to work together to make it work. Should she be the right one for you, she too will listen and make it work, just as you will listen and make it work.

You can do it; just have the conversation.

In summary -

1) Ensure she knows how you feel; good chance she's neglecting it because it's so overbearing for her. Upon completion, get married (or not)
2) Don't pay a cent of your own money until you're married - then you too must be accountable
2) Pick your path forward: 100% all in pay off mode, PSLF, etc.
3) Move forward :)

Best of luck, you can do it!
Last edited by LawEgr1 on Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jbmitt
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by jbmitt » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:14 pm

My first response is that you don’t deserve this woman if you can only focus on her as a balance sheet. My second thought is perhaps you should work to increase your income potential.

If you’re committed to each other, you need to function as a team. What happens if you get hit by a bus and you have a long recovery period, should she find someone else to be with because all of a sudden you’re not working?

I’d suggest her looking at all of the career options available. A school based speech pathologist is only one track, and there are others. You should continue to evaluate your own career prospects.

In my own experience, I met and fell in love with a woman who was in grad school into her thirties and had made several poor financial decisions over the years. She finished her program with 230k in loans. Since we met over 6 years ago, we’ve made two moves for her career, paid 2/3 of her debt off and are getting married next spring. She has replaced me as the primary bread winner, as I’ve returned to school and will likely never out earn her.

It has worked for us, because we’re a team and we’ve discussed our goals and budgeted together. Instead of running to a Internet forum to complain about her decisions, we’ve discussed our finances, feelings towards debt and found solutions and improved on things together.

sjt
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by sjt » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:18 pm

cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am

I have been working and strategizing since I was 12 about how I would graduate debt free and I have done so with a bachelors in finance..... I am very debt averse. I am frustrated by my fiancee's lack of understanding when it comes to numbers in general... My only concern is the validity and stability of the PSLF program moving forward and my fiancee wanting a baby or babies during that period...I already know we won't get a home until our late 30s. Due to this uncertainty, I want to go private refinance. Furthermore, I want to dump savings at her loans asap. I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
I don't think shallow is the word I would use to describe you. You are just much more versed in finance and numbers than she is. The loans are a lot, and they will take a lot of dedication and time to pay back - you know this. I think you should continue trying to explain the situation, and the sacrifices you will need to take as a couple during the payback period.

If she's not great with money and doesn't understand this debt emergency, and her expectations may be in the realm of buying a house and a new SUV upon graduation or two years in the workforce. This could cause friction in your relationship - and it's better to discuss your financial priorities up front.

As others have said, you can afford it. It's going to take sacrifice for several years, but love is love and if I had to live in a van with my wife and eat rice and beans, it'd still be worth it if we were together.
"The one who covets is the poorer man, | For he would have that which he never can; | But he who doesn't have and doesn't crave | Is rich, though you may hold him but a knave." - Wife of Bath tale

mptfan
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by mptfan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:19 pm

cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am
I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
I think it is a red flag and a valid issue and I do not think you are being shallow.

People who follow Boglehead principles of frugality and avoiding debt are in a small minority in our consumer and credit driven economy, so when it comes to dating and romantic relationships, Bogleheads have to either find someone who is in the same minority or accept being with someone who has other qualities that make the match worthwhile. Of course humans are complex creatures and most people do not fit neatly into an extreme "frugal" or "spendthrift" box, most people fall somewhere on a continuum between the two extremes, and it's up to each person to decide whether their partner is close enough and compatible on that spectrum, or whether the difference is too great to make a good match.
Last edited by mptfan on Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Thegame14
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:19 pm

my wife had 40K in student loans when we met, I had Zero, I also majored in accounting and later on got an MBA in Finance. She also got a job, started at the bottom and worked hard to move up, and now makes 50K with free health insurance and paid off her loans in about 5 years.

She paid 100% of her student loans out of her salary. We use the Suzy orman method of mixing our finances. We figure out how much the "household" expenses are, then add our incomes together and figure out what percentage of our take home pay is needed to pay for the household expenses and each contribute that much or a little more to the joint account to pay for joint bills. The rest left over is our individual money, I put more of my money towards our 401K while she paid off her loans.

If your biggest issue with her is this money, then don't get married. if on average she earns $50K a year, over the next 40 years she will gross $2M, so I wouldn't be worried about 130K. I would also assume love, companionship, household duties, friendship, and encouraging each other to succeed has some value too, but maybe not for you.

Dottie57
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:25 pm

I disagree with you on paragraph one. Money is the number one reason for divorce, so I think OP is very smart to focus on difference in how he and his partner view money. They really need to look at how they will manage it together.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:32 pm

If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable.
You are catastrophizing. There is nothing insurmountable about $130K in student loans. On the other hand, she may be trivializing. It's a big stinking number, and you have to deal with it aggressively. So you are both avoiding the problem - you by making it 15 feet tall and all-powerful, and she by ignoring it.

PSLF might work, but you mention that she may want to have kids in the next few years, so it isn't necessarily the answer. I'd rather try to maximize household income and pay off the loans. You should be able to make more than $45K in finance. There is more to staying out of debt than keeping your expenses low - it also is tremendously helpful to keep your income high!

So figure out how the 2 of you can get your joint income up to $100-$150K, keep a bare bones lifestyle, and pay off the debt in 5-8 years. You can do the math, it shouldn't be that hard. If she won't work with you on that, and keeps avoiding the issue, then you both need to re-think the whole marriage thing.

Tamalak
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Tamalak » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:45 pm

mptfan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:19 pm
cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am
I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
I think it is a red flag and a valid issue and I do not think you are being shallow.
+1

Your success belongs to you, don't throw it away for some woman who can't be arsed to learn how money works.

Run, my dude.

Ask your question on /r/personalfinance - they'll have a perspective on this more accurate to your generation than this board provides.
Last edited by Tamalak on Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dm200
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:48 pm

No experience with either - but money disagreements are in the top two for divorce, etc.

Sex is the other.

mptfan
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by mptfan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:49 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:48 pm
No experience with either - but money disagreements are in the top two for divorce, etc.

Sex is the other.
Or rather, the lack thereof.

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dm200
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:53 pm

mptfan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:49 pm
dm200 wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:48 pm
No experience with either - but money disagreements are in the top two for divorce, etc.
Sex is the other.
Or rather, the lack thereof.
Different "perceptions" - same facts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7nPkpdFAic

TwstdSista
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by TwstdSista » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:09 pm

The husband married me when I had close to six figures in student loans. I had been a train wreck in my 20s and started getting my stuff together in my early 30s. Before we got married, I paid off all of my credit cards and my car loan. He's made it very clear that he would not have married me if I hadn't started getting my finances in order.

We were a team from day 1 of dating. He paid for most of our dating life (which was minimal, we're rather low key) so I could focus on debt (which was not minimal). Once we got married, we lived off one paycheck and used the other to pay down those loans. Then continued to live that way and save for a house. All while never breaking out of the 15% (now 12%) tax bracket.

It can be done -- just make sure you're on the same page and you're both willing to sacrifice to get these loans paid off.

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dm200
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:18 pm

TwstdSista wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:09 pm
The husband married me when I had close to six figures in student loans. I had been a train wreck in my 20s and started getting my stuff together in my early 30s. Before we got married, I paid off all of my credit cards and my car loan. He's made it very clear that he would not have married me if I hadn't started getting my finances in order.

We were a team from day 1 of dating. He paid for most of our dating life (which was minimal, we're rather low key) so I could focus on debt (which was not minimal). Once we got married, we lived off one paycheck and used the other to pay down those loans. Then continued to live that way and save for a house. All while never breaking out of the 15% (now 12%) tax bracket.

It can be done -- just make sure you're on the same page and you're both willing to sacrifice to get these loans paid off.
Wonderful story -- and results.

smitcat
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by smitcat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:45 pm

cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am
Mon September 11, 2018 9:10 a.m.

I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 2 years and now we're engaged. she took out massive amount of student loan debt (130k+) to pay for her graduate program and she had 25k from her undergrad. Her graduation Date is June 1, 2019 and our wedding date is August 4th, 2019 after she graduates. In contrast, I have been working and strategizing since I was 12 about how I would graduate debt free and I have done so with a bachelors in finance. I make 45k annually with life insurance, medical insurance, and retirement benefits. I own everything I have including my car and I have 10k in my savings, 5k for our wedding, and some precious medals. I have 799 credit score and have played the game to earn rewards for a lovely honeymoon. At my current position we could live off my salary and pay all of her future earnings to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, my wages won't increase dramatically at this position, but low cost of living offsets that fact for now.

I am very debt averse. I am frustrated by my fiancee's lack of understanding when it comes to numbers in general. She receives a surplus of money from her grad loans after accounting for her expenses and she then puts it in her bank account and thinks she's saving (7% compared to .01%). She has ballooned to 140k in Federal loans and still has yet to graduate. I have done extensive research and there are 2 options, refinance or PSLF. My only concern is the validity and stability of the PSLF program moving forward and my fiancee wanting a baby or babies during that period. If we went PSLF I would use the excess to dump into index funds as insurance if the PSLF program went awry. The PSLF will save us an extraordinary amount, compared to all other options. With medicare and social security headwinds in the future it seems 50/50 in terms of stability. I already know we won't get a home until our late 30s. Due to this uncertainty, I want to go private refinance. Furthermore, I want to dump savings at her loans asap. I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
Some vey good responses before my post here. There are a few more questions you may want to get a handle on before you figure out a solution...
- After graduation on 6/19 does she subsequently need to complete a CF?
- Does she need to complete the praxis?
- Does she have the CF somewhat lined up already? When will it be completed? Is it paid?
- Will she be aiming for a school or a hospital position?
- Do any of those loans carry a high percentage rate? And are already accruing interest now? And are they variable?
- Does she already know what the job market and salaries look like for that? (from other classmates and shcool placement)
These questions are not us asking for a particular answer but for you to consider.

We have seen that selection of PSLF programs can often lower the potential earning forever to relive XXX of debt. That and in some cases teh family income rises during the 10 years which makes the loans trivial after that period aftere sacrificing some salary.
Your location and experience will likely be different but some to think about?

smitcat
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by smitcat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:46 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:18 pm
TwstdSista wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:09 pm
The husband married me when I had close to six figures in student loans. I had been a train wreck in my 20s and started getting my stuff together in my early 30s. Before we got married, I paid off all of my credit cards and my car loan. He's made it very clear that he would not have married me if I hadn't started getting my finances in order.

We were a team from day 1 of dating. He paid for most of our dating life (which was minimal, we're rather low key) so I could focus on debt (which was not minimal). Once we got married, we lived off one paycheck and used the other to pay down those loans. Then continued to live that way and save for a house. All while never breaking out of the 15% (now 12%) tax bracket.

It can be done -- just make sure you're on the same page and you're both willing to sacrifice to get these loans paid off.
Wonderful story -- and results.
Yes - agreed

Chadnudj
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Chadnudj » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:03 pm

Not for nothing, but is there any particular reason why a $45k salary is your peak with a finance degree?

And if she is banking the extra amount from her loans, that suggests she should have some money in the bank account right now/when she graduates. If so, take that, and just put it on a massive paydown of the loans.

$140k in loans, while daunting, isn't going to ruin you. Plenty of people have paid off bigger amounts, in still admirably short amounts of time. (Hell, I still have $90k of student loan debt 12 years after law school...it sucks, but it's at low interest and we're making plenty of progress paying it down while making more important progress on other financial goals). You're both young and have no kids/no expensive obligations yet -- the perfect time to make hay and knock those loans out quickly. Sell the precious metals (they won't keep up with inflation and take up space), get a raise/higher paying job, have your fiance get a good job so she can rapidly use all her salary to pay it down, and fight through this thing together.

delamer
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by delamer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:55 pm

I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future.
I would not marry her until 1) you are certain she understands the gravity of the situation and 2) you are no longer agonizing.

And that will be once you have come to a meeting of the minds with her, and you see that she is taking actions to get rid of the debt.

There is no reason that you can’t continue your engagement but postpone the wedding for another year (from 2019) until she has demonstrated that she is taking the debt seriously.

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dm200
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:04 pm

delamer wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:55 pm
I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future.
I would not marry her until 1) you are certain she understands the gravity of the situation and 2) you are no longer agonizing.
And that will be once you have come to a meeting of the minds with her, and you see that she is taking actions to get rid of the debt.
There is no reason that you can’t continue your engagement but postpone the wedding for another year (from 2019) until she has demonstrated that she is taking the debt seriously.
Be prepared to "compromise" - and not be concerned about the small stuff.

frugalmama
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by frugalmama » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:07 pm

delamer wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:55 pm
I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future.
I would not marry her until 1) you are certain she understands the gravity of the situation and 2) you are no longer agonizing.

And that will be once you have come to a meeting of the minds with her, and you see that she is taking actions to get rid of the debt.

There is no reason that you can’t continue your engagement but postpone the wedding for another year (from 2019) until she has demonstrated that she is taking the debt seriously.
I agree with this. My husband had a ton of school debt when we got married. I had none and was like you - I had my first investment account at a very young age. We are happily married. However, had he not understood the gravity of the situation, we would not be married. Note that she doesn't have to understand all the math or even be interested in looking at it in finance terms...she just has to be committed to paying the debt off and if she doesn't want to get into finance side of it, she needs to show a willingness to take the steps that you recommend to get out of it.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:13 pm

Our son, despite (both my wife and I) our best efforts, example and attempts to "educate" him, was financially irresponsible from a young age. Into his mid 30's - he met and "fell in love" with a financially well off woman about his age. She "educated" him about the financial "facts of life", made him get his credit cleared up and (as best we can see) he became much more financially responsible. Then she dumped him.

BUT - her "educating" him seems to have mostly continued - and he has now similarly "educated" the woman he is now engaged to. People can change under the right circumstances.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by FOGU » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:55 pm

Tamalak wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:45 pm
mptfan wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:19 pm
cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am
I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
I think it is a red flag and a valid issue and I do not think you are being shallow.
+1

Your success belongs to you, don't throw it away for some woman who can't be arsed to learn how money works.

Run, my dude.

Ask your question on /r/personalfinance - they'll have a perspective on this more accurate to your generation than this board provides.
Agree. Run, dude. The tension is already mounting and you haven't even gotten to the altar. There is no reason to take on someone with debt that is three years worth of your gross earnings. There are other fish in the sea that can collaborate with you from the start to build a beautiful life and a fortune without starting off under a huge pile of debt and stress.
~ Don't just do something. Sit there. ~

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Mlm » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:35 pm

This isn't really a very unusual situation and couples tackle debt together all the time. The key is to word "together" even if one of you takes the lead on forming viable plans. If she is not at all concerned with forming a plan then I would be worried but that's what engagements are for. So how did your fiance plan to repay her debts before she met you?

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:07 pm

"Interesting" (to me) that you have been dating for two years and this "situation" has just come up now. I was aware of my now wife's attitudes and financial position after only a few months into the relationship. We were engaged about 15 months after beginning dating and married about 20 months after beginning to date.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by beth65 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:58 pm

In the big picture, don’t consider this to be massive student loan debt. There are doctors with over $350k of loans making under $200k per year. You need to both get on the same page overall, find some great budgeting and financial planning apps/tools, and come up with a plan. Find ways to make more money, whether that means getting another job, getting a side hustle, or picking up more hours/overtime. You are not even married yet, don’t have a house, and are DINK’s in good fields with good educations. These are the years to start taking advantage of compound interest, investing early, pay off debt as quickly as possible and build great financial behaviors and habits that will help you to avoid the lifestyle creep and to increase your wealth regardless of your income or situation.

Yes, finances are important. Sit her down, get excited about coming up with a plan. Find some apps like Mint, Personal Capital and YNAB that make it fun to see how much money you can save, what investment mix you can live with (including your risk tolerance) and watch that build over time, and what goals you want to work toward. I really wish there were more ways to make finance and money more fun and challenging for the everyday person.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:36 pm

I appreciate the value of living below your means which I see mentioned a lot here on Bogleheads.

I don't think you are shallow in asking about the debt situation. I am pretty close to 2 young couples who have student loan debt that they cannot deal with given their current incomes. They aren't going to jail but the debt is not getting paid and is increasing pretty dramatically.

I graduated with no debt as did my wife and we both grew up with parents who taught us the old fashioned value of frugality. I wish you the best as you try to work out financial issues with your fiancée.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by DC3509 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:04 am

cmiller0701 wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:40 am
Mon September 11, 2018 9:10 a.m.

I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 2 years and now we're engaged. she took out massive amount of student loan debt (130k+) to pay for her graduate program and she had 25k from her undergrad. Her graduation Date is June 1, 2019 and our wedding date is August 4th, 2019 after she graduates. In contrast, I have been working and strategizing since I was 12 about how I would graduate debt free and I have done so with a bachelors in finance. I make 45k annually with life insurance, medical insurance, and retirement benefits. I own everything I have including my car and I have 10k in my savings, 5k for our wedding, and some precious medals. I have 799 credit score and have played the game to earn rewards for a lovely honeymoon. At my current position we could live off my salary and pay all of her future earnings to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, my wages won't increase dramatically at this position, but low cost of living offsets that fact for now.

I am very debt averse. I am frustrated by my fiancee's lack of understanding when it comes to numbers in general. She receives a surplus of money from her grad loans after accounting for her expenses and she then puts it in her bank account and thinks she's saving (7% compared to .01%). She has ballooned to 140k in Federal loans and still has yet to graduate. I have done extensive research and there are 2 options, refinance or PSLF. My only concern is the validity and stability of the PSLF program moving forward and my fiancee wanting a baby or babies during that period. If we went PSLF I would use the excess to dump into index funds as insurance if the PSLF program went awry. The PSLF will save us an extraordinary amount, compared to all other options. With medicare and social security headwinds in the future it seems 50/50 in terms of stability. I already know we won't get a home until our late 30s. Due to this uncertainty, I want to go private refinance. Furthermore, I want to dump savings at her loans asap. I love this woman, but she doesn't seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I love her, but I agonize about our future. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
You are not shallow, but you seem irrationally worried and somewhat sanctimonious here, especially when you are discussing marrying someone -- this isn't talking about finances with your bowling buddy or something. You are already planning that you won't get a home until your late 30s and that social security and medicare are going bust because of PSLF -- on what basis do you make these outlandish predictions? If you really and sincerely love this person to the point where you want to marry them -- and again I can't emphasize enough what a major commitment it is to marry someone -- then you should be able to figure out this issue. People graduate with student loan debt all the time and pay it back. Your "I had a bank account when I was 12" attitude here could be really off-putting to her, whether you realize it or not.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by msk » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:17 am

I do not see the loan as the major issue. What I sense is that you are incompatible in a major way regarding spending habits. She sounds like my DW who has never changed. We are now in our mid 70s. DW's attitude is that the future will take care of itself and she'll die young anyway, like her Dad. Any credit lines available are for use! Last time I checked she had 50+k on credit cards. Bad news is that you are not going to change her lack of frugality. Both of you have to agree a mode of co-existence. Ours was a total separation of our finances. Got married in Quebec so that was the default option anyway. Later we did own our home jointly, but all rental property/investments were in my name only. Since through most of our married life I was the sole earner, I let her spend 100% of my salary less monthly instalments like mortgage, insurance, school fees, etc. Only way to control her spending. Whacking great mortgage is a great way of enforced savings :twisted: Until she got her own credit cards... I do not see incompatible levels of frugality as a deal breaker for marriage, but you have to find a mode for co-existence. Accept that you are not going to change her and please do not get entangled with her loans. There will be other loans :( Many couples have significant disagreements as regards financial priorities (how many wives would consider a Porsche as a higher priority than a kitchen renovation, etc.). Yet most of us learn to compromise along the way, but how much fraction of earnings (jointly or singly) to spend each month really ought to be thrashed out very early if you are embarking on the normal joint-property marriage. Quite a lot of people (all normal people?) will think the BH approach of saving and investing 30% of income as bonkers :greedy

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by traveler901 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:32 am

That is a serious amount of debt for a speech pathologist. I would have a serious discussion about her career aspirations and initial job search. At a public school a speech pathologist is making barely more than a teacher, so I would consider home health to help aggressively pay off the loans. You could also look into hospitals which might offer a loan forgiveness program.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by forgeblast » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:46 am

With Speech/Language Pathologist, is there a loan forgiveness policy if she is serving in a lower income school/setting? Might be worth looking into. My wife was looking into that when we taught in NC since she was elementary ed/special ed.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Nissanzx1 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:46 am

Our story was similar to yours. She had $50k less student debt. I dragged my feet on proposal until I could be assured we were in agreement on repayment schedule and how we would live financially. I let her know before proposal that finances are a complete deal breaker (and they would have been in a second- I don't mean to sound cold) for me.

Once married, I asked her to sign a contract committing to X dollars/month. I let her pick from three different payment numbers. She picked the one in the middle. Today, 3 years later we sit with no student loans. Forget student loan foreignness- it moves too slow and ties you to a job.

If there is any chance this woman has princess syndrome, you are in for a world of hurt. If she's reasonable and frugal and willing to commit to an aggressive payback- you'll be fine. If she thinks there's a new BMW following the honeymoon, you really need to stop and be honest with her on where your tolerances are.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Dottie57 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:44 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:48 pm
No experience with either - but money disagreements are in the top two for divorce, etc.

Sex is the other.
Disagree. Most people know what sex they are.
Last edited by Dottie57 on Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Frisco Kid » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:48 am

The two of you are clearly totally out of sync regarding finances. Many other posters here have shared they started where you are and have made it work so it can be done through communication and compromise. However in the end my gut tells me you would be better off finding someone that shares your financial style. I perceive that you are already in freak out mode just thinking about this, why this is happening after a 2 year relationship concerns me as well. Accept that you are not well matched and move on.....

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by jminv » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:11 am

A third option is to get the highest paying position possible and payoff the loan. That’s what I did with my own student debt years ago, although it was much smaller.

Although 130k relative to her salary at graduation is high it’s also possible for her to pay it off relatively quickly. She wanted the degree, got it, and she will be able to pay it off with a relatively well paid job. The initial decision on program’s cost is in the past and now you are in the present. Focusing on the past is not productive. If she will work and pay it off, I’m not sure why it’s an issue or why people suggest you leave her.

Also, your potential future wife will be making more than you. That’s valuable and not noted here.

As far as taking extra money out above tuition I’d imagine she’s using it for living expenses and a cash cushion. People do that. I did it to a limited extent during undergrad. I also didn’t take on near what she did and I had a lot of grants. Regardless, an extreme aversion to debt can lead you to miss out on worthwhile opportunities - such as a future wife in this case. This isn’t about your her debt situation but more an anecdote on how debt can be ok and an extreme aversion can lead one to miss out : My own wife is extremely averse to debt and wouldn’t go to a graduate program that would increase her salary 2.5x until she had the money saved in cash. The amount she lost out on in lost earnings while saving the tuition cost was much greater. In your situation, if you followed some of the advice here you’d end a loving relationship. Personal finance skills are also something that can be learned, at least to an extent.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Nate79 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 am

Introduce her to Dave Ramsey. Perhaps his book or start playing his podcasts/youtube videos in the background.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:31 am

jminv wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:11 am
A third option is to get the highest paying position possible and payoff the loan. That’s what I did with my own student debt years ago, although it was much smaller.

Although 130k relative to her salary at graduation is high it’s also possible for her to pay it off relatively quickly. She wanted the degree, got it, and she will be able to pay it off with a relatively well paid job. The initial decision on program’s cost is in the past and now you are in the present. Focusing on the past is not productive. If she will work and pay it off, I’m not sure why it’s an issue or why people suggest you leave her.

Also, your potential future wife will be making more than you. That’s valuable and not noted here.

As far as taking extra money out above tuition I’d imagine she’s using it for living expenses and a cash cushion. People do that. I did it to a limited extent during undergrad. I also didn’t take on near what she did and I had a lot of grants. Regardless, an extreme aversion to debt can lead you to miss out on worthwhile opportunities - such as a future wife in this case. This isn’t about your her debt situation but more an anecdote on how debt can be ok and an extreme aversion can lead one to miss out : My own wife is extremely averse to debt and wouldn’t go to a graduate program that would increase her salary 2.5x until she had the money saved in cash. The amount she lost out on in lost earnings while saving the tuition cost was much greater. In your situation, if you followed some of the advice here you’d end a loving relationship. Personal finance skills are also something that can be learned, at least to an extent.
I know of someone who moved for the wife's supposedly higher paying career and the husband left a well paying job. Unfortunately shortly after the move wife got fired. So they are sitting with massive amounts of student loans and not so well paying job for the husband and no job for the wife.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:34 am

That works if the wife is interested or can develop an interest in Dave Ramsey. Unfortunately sometimes when someone has a problem in a certain area hearing advice about that area can be annoying.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by djpeteski » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:34 am

It is no wonder, given how frugal you are, that you are attracted to someone who is a bit out of control you are. Even if you do break it off with this person, your future SO will likely have similar beliefs about money.

I am assuming you do not want to divorce this young lady. It may sound stupid, but it seems like some people get married even thought they know they will divorce. I know someone like that, every 5-7 years it's next man up.

What really matters to your successful future are two things:
1) What is her attitude towards this debt? Will she, once you two are married, be similarly dedicating to making the balance zero? If not this will cause problems.

2) Can you two work together? Its going to be tough to make and stick to a plan to pay off 130k. Can you two do that?

Answering those questions positively could make your marriage stronger. If not, the marriage will likely fail, unless you drastically change your feelings about debt. I just don't think that will happen.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:27 am

djpeteski wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:34 am
It is no wonder, given how frugal you are, that you are attracted to someone who is a bit out of control you are. Even if you do break it off with this person, your future SO will likely have similar beliefs about money.

I am assuming you do not want to divorce this young lady. It may sound stupid, but it seems like some people get married even thought they know they will divorce. I know someone like that, every 5-7 years it's next man up.

What really matters to your successful future are two things:
1) What is her attitude towards this debt? Will she, once you two are married, be similarly dedicating to making the balance zero? If not this will cause problems.

2) Can you two work together? Its going to be tough to make and stick to a plan to pay off 130k. Can you two do that?

Answering those questions positively could make your marriage stronger. If not, the marriage will likely fail, unless you drastically change your feelings about debt. I just don't think that will happen.
The way I read the original post there is 130k+ and another 25k of debt for more than 155k.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by Boglegrappler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:33 am

Your situation seems to be worth some concern.

If your fiancee has 140k of student debt currently, and another year to go, I'm not sure where the total will be when you are planning to be married. The total seems quite large for what should be a two year masters program? I'm not sure of what these cost. I also wonder what level of spending has gone on, and whether there is a pile of credit card debt as well.

Also, if she is borrowing more than necessary and keeping it in the bank (I think this is what you're implying with your number that apparently is your representation of the interest rate differential --7% on the student loans and nearly nothing from the bank deposit) If there is a large balance there that's not a good thing.

I'm not especially interested in messing up relationships. But I do think that the suggestions of others regarding communication are pretty good. I've seen a marriage implode and dissolve quickly because of a lack of disclosure and candor about debt and spending.

I wish you the best. This is not an easy situation to deal with.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by forgeblast » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:37 am

Nissanzx1 wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:46 am
Forget student loan foreignness- it moves too slow and ties you to a job.
In the educational field most people do not jump around to different jobs. We just had a teacher retire who went to school here, and worked 35 years in the same room teaching Kindergarten.
I taught in three different schools, which makes me one of the few that taught in different places in my district, but I went for stability vs being on strike.
With that much debt, any thing that will knock it down is a must.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by smitcat » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:44 am

forgeblast wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:37 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:46 am
Forget student loan foreignness- it moves too slow and ties you to a job.
In the educational field most people do not jump around to different jobs. We just had a teacher retire who went to school here, and worked 35 years in the same room teaching Kindergarten.
I taught in three different schools, which makes me one of the few that taught in different places in my district, but I went for stability vs being on strike.
With that much debt, any thing that will knock it down is a must.
Unfortunately - we do not know if the OP will be in a school setting at all, or what job she will have , and what area of the country she is in. No real method to advise without additional facts. FWIW - in our area it would likely be a mistake to tie one up to loan forgiveness but there are exceptions out there.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by t885 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:46 am

Don't do it.

She might change in the short term to make you happy but after the "honeymoon" phase is over she will revert back to the mean

Cut bait and move on.
Last edited by t885 on Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by jadd806 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:47 am

djpeteski wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:34 am
It is no wonder, given how frugal you are, that you are attracted to someone who is a bit out of control you are. Even if you do break it off with this person, your future SO will likely have similar beliefs about money.
"Opposites attract" is armchair psychology. It comes down to simple odds: if 1 out of every 20 people is financially competent (which seems like a very generous ratio for people in their mid-20's like the OP), he is just far more likely to date someone who is financially incompetent if he is not actively using it as a relationship filter.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by inbox788 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:58 am

Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:32 pm
What are the job prospects and potential salary range she is looking at? I question the PSLF as a route as likely she should be able to get a really good job and pay off the debt with your combined household income. Of course if she takes some low paying public service job things will be different but even then your household income will still be ok. But not sure why someone would take a low paying job just to save a little money in forgiveness.
PSLF is great if you have big loans and low paying job and are single. Be sure to understand how being married impacts the program. It's not all about saving a big headline interest rate, but opportunity cost. You're not really saving if the cost was avoidable, so make your comparisons appropriately. I'm guessing it's not really for your situation, but run some numbers to figure out potential financial benefits. Requirements are very stringent.

Financially, you seem to be different, but as long as you're not both extremely opposite, there's probably a workable middle ground. The main thing is that you avoid living in a HCOL area, especially a VHCOL one. Some jobs scale with living costs while other do not.

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Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Fiancee

Post by jadd806 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:39 am

t885 wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:46 am
Don't do it.

She might change in the short term to make you happy but after the "honeymoon" phase is over she will revert back to the mean

Cut bait and move on.
Harsh words but I agree. I'm around the same age as the OP and the information in his post would be a HUGE red flag for me. Look, nobody who posts on an investing forum in their 20's is anything less than obsessive about personal finance. We're just wired differently.

Taking on her debt might be okay if she was of a similar mindset, they worked together to pay it off and it ended there. But it isn't going to. He mentioned kids in his post, which means she's probably talked about them. So 2-3 years after they get married and long before they have the loans paid off she'll start thinking about kids. As soon as the first kid comes along they'll lose an income or pay half of one in childcare. The extra debt payments will stop. Then they'll buy a house that they can't afford because "the kids need to grow up in a stable environment." They won't have a down payment and he'll argue that they're not financially ready to buy a house; he will lose the argument. Then comes the SUV because the kids deserve safe transportation, oh and it's only $500/month! If normal living expenses were not piling up on a credit card long ago they certainly will be by now. At some point the relationship will fall apart and end in divorce because he can't handle the constant anxiety of living in debt.

Regardless of their other qualities, I would not date someone unless they made a similar salary or more than me, saved at least the equivalent of maxing a 401k/IRA, and had some interest in early retirement. That is what's important to me. I would suggest the OP sets up similar filters based on his values.

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