Financial Complexities of a Troupled Household
A trouple is a three way couple in a long-term relationship and they have financial challenges just like people who co-mingle finances in a traditional marriage or domestic partnership. Watch an episode of Big Love and you’ll see that money issues aren’t really that different when two, three or four adults are involved in a committed relationship. This week we have a guest post written by Ceejay from Minneapolis where she’s interested in your input on their troupled finances. These are her words…
I’m a bisexual woman and make the financial decisions for my household (3 working adults). I think I’m on the right track, but I welcome any suggestions or input about how we are handling our money. We have a ton of debt: mortgage, student loan and personal/credit. We have no savings except our 401(k)s; but our net worth (calculating retirement + house values – debt) is $63,000. Our ages are: 33, 34 and 28.
Last March we got serious about our money situation, and have paid off over $15,000 of debt since July. My main goal is to eliminate almost $70,000 of remaining credit card and personal loan debt, after which we’ll start saving and investing, paying only a little more than the minimum on our $70,000 student loan debt and $300,000 in mortgage debt. With the probability of kids and an international move looming in the next 5 to 10 years, I really want to get us stable financially. I feel that investing and saving are more important than eliminating mortgage and education debt, but I do go back and forth on that.
Day-to-day, everything works quite smoothly: All our paychecks go into one account, and I dispense spending money, pay the bills and decide how the rest of the money is allocated. From a legal standpoint, though, our situation is quite thorny, should anything happen where courts would have to decide things:
My girlfriend, now wife (not legally) of 10.5 years and I co-own a condo and co-signed the mortgage. Our boyfriend, now husband (mine, legally) of 2.5 years owns a flat in England that he’s renting out. He lives with us in the U.S and I suppose we (he and I) own half of each other’s assets now that we’re married.
We would like to combine our finances completely, but since he is here on a marriage visa, we don’t want to confuse everything too much, lest our marriage look less legitimate. (Legally, we are in the clear, but we want to avoid the costly process of defending ourselves should the presence of a third, unmarried person cloud the issue in the minds of immigration officials.) So for the time being, I have him as the sole beneficiary of my work benefits (life insurance, disability, 401(k), etc.) We do have a joint checking account–my girlfriend and I joined ours when we bought our condo, so we added our husband’s name to the account when he moved in.
I’m indiscriminately paying the debts down based on interest rates and cost, regardless of whose name is on it. This means that my wife is technically credit-card debt-free, my husband will be there in less than a year, and I will be left carrying the only credit and personal debt. However, I have a plan to pay all of it off in two years, so assuming our relationship is as happy and stable as I think it is then this shouldn’t have any ramifications for me.
We have a long way to go, financially and legally, but hope to start having kids in a couple of years if we get everything straightened out. We’ve made a lot of financial mistakes, but having a TINK (triple income, no kids) lifestyle for a few more years should straighten us out a lot.
We’ve gotten plenty of cautionary criticism, and we know we have a lot to worry about. But we also feel we have a lot to be thankful for, and feel pretty optimistic about our futures. If anyone has any suggestions for better ways to handle our financial and legal issues, I would welcome the input below.