By Cyril Tuohy
If you’re out on a date for Valentine’s Day, you are better off talking about life insurance than you are bringing up the subject of debt.
Debt will make your life more difficult and it will put a damper on your love life. Two thirds of Americans who are dating or single say they are unwilling to date or marry someone who has significant debt, the latest Country Financial Security Index survey of 3,000 Americans found.
Women – dating or single – are more sensitive than men to the issue of debt. The survey found that 72 percent of women said they would refuse to date or marry someone with significant debt compared with only 58 percent of men who would refuse to date due to debt.
“From credit cards to student loans, debt has become a major financial hurdle for many Americans to overcome,” said Joe Buhrman, manager of financial security support at Country Financial. “It’s important to focus on reducing debt – not just for your love life, but also for your financial security.”
Nearly one third of Americans said the three-month mark is a good time to discuss money, and 29 percent said discussing money immediately is acceptable.
Men are more likely than women to say talking about money at the onset of the relationship is acceptable, the Country Financial survey also found. The survey was conducted by the independent research firm Rasmussen Reports.
Like long-term investing where the more you put aside early the better off you are, Buhrman said it’s important to have conversations “early and often” to ensure a couple is on the same page with regard to household finances.
According to a tip sheet released by MetLife, couples who are dating should learn about the financial situation of their partner before committing to the long term. If one or both partners in a relationship are carrying debt, the couple should work to pay off existing debt.
Understanding the differences between good debt – mortgage debt or school loans, and bad debt – credit card debt or payday loans – is a key part of the discussion.
“As every couple knows, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to money,” Jeff Tulloch, vice president at MetLife Premier Client Group, said in a news release.
Tulloch also advises couples to discuss their individual levels of risk tolerance, and the time horizons in front of them. Secrets are a no-no. Keeping financial secrets from a partner is tantamount to treason or cheating.
Couples who feel overwhelmed by debt could also hire a financial advisor to help them dig out. Or they might lighten the Valentine’s Day dinner mood by talking about life insurance.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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