When you’re dating someone and marriage is potentially on the horizon, it’s important to discuss a number of different things. Of course, regular conversations will come up early on in your dating. Things like hobbies, jobs, and other relatively easy topics to talk about.
When things start getting serious in a relationship, though, some more difficult conversations need to be had. Things like specifically how much money the other person makes? What are your life-long goals? Do you want kids? Some of these conversations can be deal-breakers, and many of them are private.
Especially when you start talking about STD’s.
Be Open and Honest About STD’s
No, I’m not talking about those STD’s. I’m talking about Sexually Transmitted Debt.
Debt is one of those things that few people enjoy talking about. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when talking about any debt you have. Some debt can be “good” such as a mortgage or some student loan debt. Other debt can be “bad”: high interest debts including credit cards, car loans, etc.
I won’t get into specifics on if this is generally perceived as “right” or not. The fact is, all other things being equal, having no debt at all is way better than having debt.
Having this potentially-difficult conversation shouldn’t be a time to judge. Opening up about your STD’s isn’t an easy thing to do. It can be embarrassing to admit all the credit cards you’ve been with. If it helps, grab a beer (or two or three) and sit down to really talk about your STD’s – and other important topics like net worth – with your partner.
Get the Treatment You Need For STD’s
After admitting you have an STD (or many, if you used to get around financially) it’s time to prescribe a treatment plan. Some STD’s can be stubborn and difficult to get out of your system. It may take several months, maybe years, to fully rid yourself of them.
That’s okay – as long as you’re making progress consistently you’re in good shape. The quicker you can pay off your debt though, the quicker you can start building a significant nest egg.
The two approaches I like the most for tackling STD’s (or any kind of debt) are the “Debt Snowball” and “Debt Avalanche” methods.
Popularized by Dave Ramsey, the Debt Snowball behaves exactly as you’d expect a snowball to: start small, and work your way up. Simply order your debts from smallest to largest, pay the minimum toward everything except the smallest. Throw every spare dollar you can at that debt. Once it’s paid off, rinse and repeat.
The Debt Avalanche is another popular method advocated by math nerds. Instead of focusing on STD’s that are the easiest to treat first, this methodology focuses on debts with the highest interest rates. The idea here is that the debts with the highest interest rates will yield the highest ROI on your money.
It’s sound logic, and makes a lot of sense. However it can also mean paying on some of your biggest debts for a long time. When that happens, you won’t see the number of accounts you owe on go down, which can be disheartening.
Mathematically this is a more effective way to tackle STD’s. Psychologically, the quicker wins realized by the Snowball method may have more benefit to keep you motivated. Which one works for you will largely be determined by your personality, but both are effective.
After your STD’s are cured, don’t forget to snowball that money into investments!
STD Free – The Way To Be
I’ve been debt free since 2012 (that’ll change with a mortgage coming in less than a month). Kristin, on the other hand, did have some STD’s. It was nothing super serious – just some credit card debt that she was already working on taking care of.
While we were dating, we agreed that it’d be her responsibility, and she tackled them furiously and successfully. A few months later, those STD’s cleared up and we went into our marriage totally free of them.
It doesn’t particularly matter how you address your STD’s, as long as you get them taken care of. Since personal finance is personal, what worked for us might not necessarily work for you. But having a plan to address the STD’s – along with the budget to support it – is important for your financial futures together.
Did you have any STD’s when you got married? If you’re not married yet, would you have any major concerns if your partner had STD’s?