Scenarios: My wife is $300,000 in debt and didn’t tell me

Jan 6, 2023, 2:51 PM | Updated: 4:09 pm
An illustrative image of Master car, Revolut, Visa and Visa debit cards. On Tuesday, January 11, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On the Gee and Ursula Show, hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin give advice to help other people in a segment called … Scenarios.

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Scenario: I recently finished a Ph.D. program and was fortunate enough to have a tuition waiver. I ended up going a little into credit card debt but paid it off and have been saving ever since. My wife was also in a Ph. D. program but dropped out when it was time to write a thesis. She said she thought about it for a long time but never discussed it with me. I found out when she asked if I’d be willing to become a domestic partner so she could get on my health insurance. I’ve been saving for years for a down payment on a home, I asked if she could help. And she said she needs to pay down the $30,000 in credit card bills. Up until a few months ago, she kept assuring me that she was paying them down, but then I found out that it’s not $30,000 it’s $300,000 in debt. We’ve been together for three years, and she never told me. She said she didn’t know the amount and wasn’t hiding anything from me, but somehow that makes me feel even worse. We currently split the rent. She’s made a few poor decisions, like when she had issues due to a toxic work environment and wanted to quit before getting a new job. We both have good jobs, and she has a plan and sticking to it; however, I don’t know if I’m comfortable having joint ownership of the home. If I make the downpayment myself, I may also end up just getting the loan by myself for a better interest rate, as I have excellent credit. She says if I make the down payment, she’ll pay more of the mortgage until we’ve contributed equally. But that doesn’t seem like it will work out anytime soon. I feel like I’d rather just get it by myself and have that house in my name, but I don’t know how to have that conversation. 

Ursula Reutin: Have that conversation, you absolutely have to do it. You have to be very forthright, it sounds like she hasn’t been. It also sounds like she’s horrible with money, and yeah, you don’t want to get into a situation where her bad money choices really end up affecting you even though you’ve been together for three years. So I would have that conversation, tell her that you want to get it on your own, and put that down payment. I would do that on your own. I think that she would need to show more responsibility when it comes to money.

Andrew “Chef” Lanier: You’re gonna get laughed out of the loan office if you come in with her and try and apply for a home loan, period. Do it on your own. I mean, you have a decision to make on whether you want to be in a relationship with someone that is that financially irresponsible for the rest of your life. And I say this being a guilty party myself. When I first started dating Gabby, I was in a decent amount of tax debt, but I was honest with her, and we dug out of it together as a couple. But 300 grand, that is bankruptcy territory because I don’t even know how you dig yourself out of that. There’s no way she’s going to be able to be financially solvent paying off 300 grand unless she’s making like $250,000 a year.

UR: Yeah, and she was dishonest. That’s lying by omission.

AL: Which I understand in that circumstance.

UR: But not when [it] is that big?

Gee Scott: This is easy. Number one. Like Ursula said, have the conversation. You’re gonna have to have the conversation number one. Number two. It’s the B word. Don’t be scared of it. Bankruptcy. Easy. This ain’t a medical debt. Well, this might sound like some student loan, so that’s not gonna go anywhere. But you need to make sure your financial situation is stable. I will say this look, if you love this person, seriously, and all cards on a table. Now you get to have discussions with all cards on the table. It’s time to go from there. A lot of times, people say run, but it’s not always that easy. If you got you a good one, keep rockin’ with it, and like Ursula always says, have the tough conversation.

Nick Creasia: I think you’re right, Gee, it’s really simple in with this much money, avoid this trap. Let’s steer clear of this debt. Read through the lines in the game she might be playing. why don’t we get together and sign a prenup so you can pay this debt off.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Scenarios: My wife is $300,000 in debt and didn’t tell me