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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Don't marry debt

Marriage is already a financially risky move under the present legal regime. But marrying a heavily indebted woman would be financially insane, especially in the current economy:
Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, but when Allison Brooke Eastman’s fiancé found out four months ago just how high her student loan debt was, he had a particularly strong reaction: he broke off the engagement within three days. Ms. Eastman said she had told him early on in their relationship that she had over $100,000 of debt. But, she said, even she didn’t know what the true balance was; like a car buyer who focuses on only the monthly payment, she wrote 12 checks a year for about $1,100 each, the minimum possible. She didn’t focus on the bottom line, she said, because it was so profoundly depressing.

But as the couple got closer to their wedding day, she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000. “He accused me of lying,” said Ms. Eastman, 31, a San Francisco X-ray technician and part-time photographer who had run up much of the balance studying for a bachelor’s degree in photography. “But if I was lying, I was lying to myself, not to him. I didn’t really want to know the full amount.”
It sounds like the gentleman escaped just in the nick of time. In addition to the $170k in debt, Miss Eastman sounds exactly like the sort of woman who would not only rationalize lying to a man, but being unfaithful as well. In any case, how you manage your personal finances is a good indicator of how you will manage both a household and a marriage as well. The short-term oriented woman who can't foresee the obvious consequences of credit is the same sort of woman who can't foresee the obvious consequences of encouraging the harmless attentions of her male acquaintances and co-workers.

The truly dangerous thing about debt, where women are concerned, is that can lock them out of a career as a wife and mother. Unless you marry someone wealthy enough to pay off your debts without thinking about it, having children and staying home to take care of them simply isn't an option. So, you'll have sacrificed not only your own future but your children's as well in order to spend five years studying 14th century Basque poetry and having sex with ten or twelve college guys whose names you'll struggle to remember ten years hence.

The harsh reality is that a few years on the pole with a coke habit would still leave the average woman with a better long term prospect of happiness than the popular combination of student loans and a soft liberal arts degree from a reputable private university.

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