Should girlfriend take over boyfriend’s finances?

Dear Dave,

I’m 22 years old and I have a problem with my 33 year old boyfriend’s finances. We are planning on getting married eventually, but I think one of the main reasons we’re not right now is because he doesn’t have the money to buy a ring. I’ve even told him I don’t need a fancy ring, but he won’t accept that. About five months ago he just about went into foreclosure with his home. He had gotten a really good deal on this home and his mortgage payments are less than even my rent payments. Now he’s three months behind on his mortgage again and at least a month behind on all of his bills. He did send in one mortgage payment, but the check was returned because he had recently written 16 bad checks. I’m really good with money and I’d like to help him. If he’d let me take over his finances, I would help him. But he won’t let me do that.

At the beginning of the year he got involved with drugs while we were broken up, but he’s stopped doing them since and we’re back together.

Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Katie,

Well, first of all his one mortgage payment wouldn’t have been accepted by the mortgage company anyway if he’s behind three months. They are the only creditor who will not accept a partial payment without a written deal, called forbearance, being in place. So if you’re two payments behind and you send them one, they will send it back to you no matter if it’s a bad check or not.

Secondly, I wonder what advice you would give your daughter if you found out she was dating someone who was recently a drug addict, bounced multiple checks and he’s behind on his bills. I’m missing the attraction part. I’m missing the part where he’s a good guy. This guy is out of control.

As far as taking over his finances, that is a bad plan. That won’t help him. If you marry this guy in his current situation, you’re going to be living like he’s living for the rest of your life.

Now, is this to say that he could never change? He could possibly, but you don’t marry someone to change them. I don’t know how he was when you first met him. He may have been different. But today he’s irresponsible with money and out of control. He’s not paying his bills and he’s writing hot checks. Now hot checks are really dumb. It takes fourth grade math to know if you’ve got money in the checking account or not. You just need the discipline to write down the checks and balance your checkbook every month. And you don’t have money just because you have checks left like the old joke says.

You like this guy or love him a lot because you’re willing to overlook a whole lot of stuff. As a dad myself, you’re scaring me to death. It might be OK to date this guy a little bit, watch him and see if he can regain control of his life, but this out of control money stuff, along with the drug thing, is an indication of a character issue that runs really deep in this guy. He’s got a lot of growing up to do before he’s marriage material.

I’m not trying to be mean to him. He’s really probably not a bad person, but he is totally out of control right now. Please, please don’t marry this man as he is. If you stay with him you’ll be miserable. So take your time, a long time, and make sure he’s totally under control before you marry him.


How long should one keep estate and will papers?

Dear Dave,

My wife’s father passed away about eight years ago and she was executor of his estate. About two weeks ago I was cleaning out our attic for a yard sale and came upon boxes of old tax records and cancelled checks from his estate. Is there any rule of thumb about how long you have to keep this stuff? All of the accounts pertaining to his affairs have been closed for years.

Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Ed,

Ninety-eight percent of the time I would suggest you keep all of those records for seven years. However, she probably had an estate attorney she worked with on his estate and, just to be certain, I would recommend she place a phone call to them asking this question. It would be a good idea to hold onto a basic file on the estate process, but that’s all. I think you’re probably safe to trash anything except memorabilia at this point, but I would double-check with an attorney just to be safe.


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