Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Telling my partner about debt

(23 Posts)
blueberrymojito Wed 27-Jul-16 20:59:20

I have been with a wonderful man now for around 8 months and things are amazing. We regularly talk about the future and living together, I know he's for keeps and he feels the same.

I know at some point next year we are going to live together, he has his own house where as I rent, so I would be moving in with him (we have already discussed this).

However, I have debt which I got into around 5-6 years ago. 6k to be precise, spread across 2 credit cards. I am deeply ashamed of this, but at the time I was a single mum without a job, young and living at home. I stupidly claimed no income support and lived off my credit card (what was I thinking?! ) I was 20 at the time and didn't know what I was entitled to.

Anyway I've Always made payments every month over the years, never missed a payment and not used them in years, but being a single mum with no support from my daughters father meant I have never been able to pay much more than the minimum and I'm paying the debt off really slowly. I have a career now and I'm in a better position but it's still difficult.

I know I need to tell my partner about this but I'm terrified...he's so good with money, earns a good wage and I'm worried it will put him off me, or make him think I'm irresponsible when it comes to money. He says I'm perfect yet know I have this hanging over me.

How do I tell him? When do I tell him? Things are so great right now, I'm worried this will ruin things or change the way he feels about me, but at the same time I know we are going to end up have a discussion about our financiers and I'm going to have to be honest.

magoria Wed 27-Jul-16 21:07:06

If he thinks any of those things about you once you explain the circumstances he is not the man for you and don't make the mistake of moving in with him.

This Anyway I've Always made payments every month over the years, never missed a payment and not used them in years, but being a single mum with no support from my daughters father meant I have never been able to pay much more than the minimum and I'm paying the debt off really slowly. I have a career now and I'm in a better position but it's still difficult. is brilliant.

anyhue Wed 27-Jul-16 21:25:47

Its good to be honest about that, if he is a reasonable and nice person then I'm sure he'll understand.

Cary2012 Wed 27-Jul-16 21:30:42

Phone Step Change they are a brilliant charity. They can send you a template letter to send the credit card companies. Usually, the card companies will freeze the interest if you send their letter. You will then pay off the debt quicker. Also you can offer to pay an affordable monthly amount, which may help. You can then tell your new man that you had debt issues, but they are under control. You have nothing to worry about, if he's a keeper, he will totally understand.

blueberrymojito Wed 27-Jul-16 21:35:30

Thanks for the replies!

Cary, would that not annoy the credit card companies though and have a negative effect on my credit score? I've always kept up with the payments to keep my head above water and don't want to start getting letters hassling me now after never having done so.

Cary2012 Wed 27-Jul-16 21:48:37

Ask Step Change for advice re credit score. Usually the card companies will accept Step Changes suggestions. Its all confidential and you don't have to take their advice, but they can give you options. Trouble with paying minimum each month is that most of payment is interest. But if they freeze interest, you can start tackling the debt. You wouldn't get letters hassling you, because SC would help you reach an agreement with them. Just an option, have a look at their website, it might explain about credit rating.

throwwwww Wed 27-Jul-16 23:07:46

Right, so this account has been made purely so that I can make this reply.

If you can service your debt (i.e. pay it at least at its minimum) DO NOT enter into agreements that freeze, reduce or change your debts. The options available are all agreements whereby you are communicating that you are unable to manage your finances to some extent, and is highly likely to be documented on your credit records.

Step Changes services are for those burdened by debt and who need relief. In these circumstances the positives of these arrangements outweigh the negatives (i.e. the money the arrangements save allows the person to eat, clothe themselves, pay rent etc. and the lost access to finance in the future isn't a bad thing).

If you're able to pay your debt there are no real positives, as any savings you make will be a millstone round your neck, particularly if you think you may get a mortgage in the next 5 years.

Step Change (or similar) will be available in the future if you truly have financial struggles. Don't be afraid to use them, but don't be too eager to use them either.

blueberrymojito Wed 27-Jul-16 23:21:56

Thanks, that's what I thought step change was...I don't think I'm at that point, I've managed/services the debt over the years despite it being very tough at times so I don't want to go down that route now.

My biggest worry is opening up about the debt. After that I reckon it could be cleared in around 18 months.

I'm just so embarrassed and I think DP will be really shocked as I'm very careful with money these days.

When do I tell him?

throwwwww Wed 27-Jul-16 23:41:27

When you tell him would depend on you and your relationship with him. Personally, if I were to do it I would tell him during one of the conversations on the future. And I also wouldn't make a big deal out it, from what you're saying (you're making payments, expect it to be cleared in 18 months etc.) it isn't really a big deal. It's something to consider if you ever do a budget though.

As a cautionary note though, both myself and my partner are very financially independent of each other and don't concern ourselves too much with the others finance. I had similar levels of debt to you when our relationship begun and my partner only found out when we applied to rent our first home together. Coincidentally I found out she had a reasonable sized loan I never knew about! Even today (we've been together 7 years) I was surprised to hear the size of a credit card debt she has when we went to do a remortgage! Particularly as it's 3 years old...

NoFanJoe Thu 28-Jul-16 00:37:22

If he's a wonderful man, this won't be a big deal at all. I think you're better off finding out sooner rather than later whether he places more value on money than on you, and also finding out how he'll see the 'real' you rather than the 'perfect' image he has.

AcrossthePond55 Thu 28-Jul-16 01:16:19

My DH owed $1600 debt when we got together 30 years ago. Circumstances similar to yours. Doesn't sound like much, only around $3300 today, but back then with my income it seemed like a lot! Anyway, he told me about the debt when we got engaged and it didn't affect my feelings for him one bit.

But if he had hidden it from me, it would have been a different story!

wishiwasntme Thu 28-Jul-16 01:36:29

You could try moving the debts to a new card(s) with 0% Apr offer. This would enable you to pay it off more quickly. You often get the special rates for upto 18 months, which would allow you to make a dent in it and you could move them again to another deal when the time is up. HTH.

Atenco Thu 28-Jul-16 03:10:32

Apart from the seemingly good advice you are getting here, you were very young to be a single mother and you had to learn the hard way about credit cards. I was a lot older than you and fell into the trap with a credit card. I went the no interest way of repayment and have never used a credit card since. I was a good lesson to learn.

e1y1 Thu 28-Jul-16 03:17:47

Yes if you are in a good position with your credit rating, the apply for a 0% (or even a lower interest APR% than your current card) and do a balance transfer and carry paying it off.

No or low interest will mean paying it off quicker and any interest you pay is money that is coming direct out of your pocket. The original balance is the money you were living off when your were using the card, the interest is money you are going to spend that you could put into savings/go on holiday - whatever. Don't pay more than you need to.

Isetan Thu 28-Jul-16 06:04:13

Have you spoken to anybody about a plan to clear the debt? Your reasons for originally getting into debt (young and clueless) will be better received if you can demonstrate that now your older you have a plan to clear, not just service the debt.

Get some proper debt management advice, make a plan and tell your partner.

Fairylea Thu 28-Jul-16 06:09:23

In the grand scheme of things a manageable debt of £6k is nothing. People borrow far more to buy fancy cars and think nothing of it! You're paying it back and not borrowing more. That's great. You're being way too hard on yourself. If the new guy is worth keeping it won't be an issue.

Wombat87 Thu 28-Jul-16 06:23:59

I was going to NC but I can't be bothered I guess. But tell your partner. I confessed to mine about my debt, which was the same as yours. My reasons for my debt was lack of ability to manage money and frivolous spending. Mr W was not annoyed at all, and was rather relived when I told him what had been worrying me. Because you may think he doesn't know, but if you live together he will pick up on signs that something is wrong.

I was more worried about being chastised, and made to feel stupid. I was 28 for gods sake not 18.. But he was golden, helped me work out how to pay it back, and he helped me a little bit too which was generous of him. If you are joining households you are almost joining finances and he will want to know. He may be able to give a new perspective on how to pay it off, he may even consolidate them with a loan to prevent the interest continuing. That's not always great, but i found my debt being in one place easier to pay off. I also was lead to believe that having a single loan, as opposed to 2 credit cards that have a constant balance, was better for credit ratings, but I may be wrong.

Don't be scared OP. Your reasons for debt are not the worst, you were young and trying to look after your child flowers

junebirthdaygirl Thu 28-Jul-16 07:13:11

I know a lot of people who at 20 borrowed a lot more than 6000 to travel the world and are still paying it back. So don't be ashamed you borrowed to survive. Don't apologise when you tell him or put yourself down in any way. You sound like you have done marvellously and a lot of young people would be in similar circumstances if parents hadn't helped even if they didn't have a child.Just state it like you would a car loan or whatever. I hope you manage to clear it soon so you can relax and it might be the biggest lesson you have learnt and save you from much stress in the future. Is there no way of getting money from your dcs dad that you could use to make bigger repayments?

pallasathena Thu 28-Jul-16 12:18:39

Tell him. My ex didn't and I still feel angry twenty years on for being duped. I helped him to pay it off as it was a substantial debt, but I never trusted him again and right from the time I found out, six months into the marriage, my feelings for him just ebbed away never to return.
Honesty is the best policy. My ex said he was scared I'd not marry him if I knew the extent of his debts. He was right, I wouldn't have but did he give me that choice? No, he decided to control the information and as a consequence, we lived a frugal, limited lifestyle as we paid back the money he owed.
I didn't sign up for that. Pay off your debt first or tell him straight how much the debt is. You owe him the courtesy of showing him you have integrity over these things.

blueberrymojito Thu 28-Jul-16 13:11:17

Thanks for the replies. You've all been really helpful and made me realise that yes, actually I have done well under the circumstances...I even went to uni and did a degree (NHS funded so no student Debt) so really if 6k is all I have then maybe it's not so bad after all.

I'm very careful with money these days and it's been a lesson to me that's for sure.

I suspect DP will be fine with it, it's not an amount that would impact our lifestyle and leave us with nothing, but it the shame and embarrassment of opening up about it. However there is absolutely no way I would move in with him without telling him.

blueberrymojito Thu 28-Jul-16 14:54:30

Also I know if he was to tell me the same about him, it would not change how I felt about him at all!

cooliebrown Thu 28-Jul-16 21:33:50

6K of debt that you're paying off shouldn't be any kind of issue in your relationship and is absolutely nothing to feel defensive about or in any way ashamed

ladyformation Fri 29-Jul-16 10:06:18

I have a similar amount which I will also clear within a similar timescale. Like you, I massively worked myself up about how to tell my (very sorted and financially sensible) boyfriend before I moved it with him. I got myself into a ridiculous state, panic attacks, not sleeping, the lot. In the end I just did it as we were walking home from the supermarket one day. He was so relieved because he could tell that I was freaking out about something and not talking about it (I'm a BIG talker), he didn't think it was a big deal because I had a plan, and he's offered so much support since. Moral of the story: just tell him. It's so much worse when it's in your head than it is when it's in the world.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now