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Ask Jenni: My Boyfriend’s Bad With Money And I’m Scared He’ll Ruin Our Chances Of Buying A House

July 29, 2017 by
boyfriend bad with money

Welcome to ‘Ask Jenni’, a new money agony aunt series where I help resolve your big financial dilemmas. Let’s have a chat with Nina, who’s growing tired of her boyfriend’s attitude to money, especially when they’re meant to be buying a house together.

Hi Jenni

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. We’ve lived together for three years and for the last two years we’ve been talking about buying a house together. I’ve managed to save more than £10,000 during this time but he’s only saved £2,000. I earn £25,000 a year and he earns £28,000 a year, so he could easily do better than he has done. 

He’s so bad with money though and everything that doesn’t go on rent, food and bills goes on nights out, clothes and beers. Since we’ve been together he’s racked up more than £5,000 in credit card, store card and overdraft debts that he’s not even trying to pay off. Some of his debts are getting more expensive because of the high interest rates but he’s just not bothered. 
I’m scared that if he doesn’t sort out his finances, he’ll ruin our chances of getting a mortgage. How do I get him to care about money?  

Nina, 28, Leeds

Hi Nina

It sounds to me like you and your boyfriend are financially incompatible. Even if you love each other, the sex is amazing, you make each other roll on the floor in hysterics every day, your parents adore him, and you dream of spending the rest of your lives together, financial incompatibility can still push your relationship to breaking point.

Most people like to think that money doesn’t play a huge part in love, but it really does. If you’ve got your heart set on buying your own place while he’s hell-bent on splashing his cash on a regular basis, it’s just not going to work. You cannot magically click your fingers and change your dreams and aspirations. Equally, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change the dreams and aspirations of the person you’re with. As a result, financial incompatibility often sees people going their separate ways.

Some people might argue that his £2,000 saving is a sign that all hope is not lost, but when you take his salary into account and compare his pitiful savings effort to yours, it’s not particularly impressive. Besides, with more than £5,000 of unnecessary debts on his record, that £2,000 isn’t technically his! He could use that money to pay off some of his debts and he’d still be £3,000 down.

His lack of urgency when it comes to paying off the money he owes is a concern. If we’re concerned about it, mortgage lenders will definitely be concerned about it too.

If he’s been failing to make the necessary repayments, his credit rating may already have taken a hit. He needs to make repaying his debt a priority so that he can get back on the straight and narrow and fix his credit rating for the future. You also need to protect your own credit rating by not taking on any of his debts in your name or opening any joint bank accounts.

If you still want to try and make the relationship work, tell it to him straight. Tell him that unless he proves his commitment to you and shows he wants to build a future with you, you’re off.

You are not going to sit around and wait for him to grow up. He needs to grow up NOW.

If he was my boyfriend, this is what I’d tell him to do:

  • Work out exactly where his money is going each month. The Money Dashboard app is great for this.

  • Identify ways to slash his spending. He should go through his bank balance and money apps with a fine tooth comb. 

  • Make big money-related lifestyle sacrifices. A long-term clothes shopping ban & temporary night out ban may be necessary.

  • Pay off his debt. Get him to speak to StepChange. They can help.

  • Put £200 a month in a Help to Buy ISA. On his salary, he can certainly afford it.

  • Put more savings in a high interest current account. He should be able to afford this too.

If you decide to go your separate ways, it sounds like you may be able buy a home by yourself. Rent a cheap spare room in a rough part of Leeds, live a super frugal life, and grow that deposit a little more. If you have a good credit rating, your £25,000 a year income could see your borrowing upwards of £100,000. You can easily find a two bed flat or house in Leeds within the £100,000 – £140,000 range. Arrange a meeting with a fee-free mortgage broker and they’ll have a closer look at your finances before highlighting the lenders most likely to give you a mortgage.

What do you think? Have you got any advice for Nina? If so, share your thoughts in the comments below or join the free Money Mess To Financial Success Facebook community to discuss this dilemma with the rest of the group. 

Or perhaps you have a money dilemma of your own. If so, please drop an email to jennisarahhill@gmail.com and you might find yourself featured in the next Ask Jenni post. If you’d like to remain anonymous,  let me know in your email.

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