Debt-laden Americans are eyeing your pocketbook
You’ll be in debt to your lover if she does this.
Nearly one in three people (32%) said they would be more willing to date someone if that person was financially able to help them pay off their debt, according to a survey of 1,000 American adults commissioned by LendEDU and conducted by polling organization Pollfish. That may be why nearly 20% consider annual income a critical factor in deciding who to date.
Unfortunately for those looking for a sugar mamma or daddy to pay off their debt, suitors don’t love a debt-laden significant other. More than 1 in 10 (13%) said that having high levels of debt is the thing most likely to make them NOT want to date someone. And about one in three (30%) say that credit card debt is a “critical factor” in deciding who to date, and more than one in 10 (12%) said that student loan debt was.
These findings shouldn’t be surprising, as they come at a time when Americans are racking up record debt. U.S. credit card debt hit a record high this year, climbing over $1 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Student loan debt also hit a record high at more than $1.3 trillion, according to another report released by the Federal Reserve released in February.
Now, money is the No. 1 cause of stress for Americans, according to the American Psychological Association — and it causes more than just a little bit of unease. People with high levels of debt often have higher blood pressure than those who are financially sound, according to a study published in the journal Social Science Medicine. And financial stress has also been scientifically proven to lead to disrupted sleep, migraines, depression and anxiety.
Because of that, some people are no doubt dreaming for someone to sweep in and pay all that debt back. But if you’re the moneybags who can swoop in and do that, you need to be careful. First, evaluate the depth of commitment in the relationship, says Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Fran Walfish. Doing this in a marriage, for example, is often a better idea than doing it for someone you’re just dating, she explains.
Even in that case, it’s important to explore how that debt was incurred, Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” adds — for example, the person may have a spending problem that would continue even after the debt was repaid.
That’s what happened to writer Lisa Orban, who tells Moneyish she repaid her ex’s debt by re-mortgaging her home. Soon after she did that, her ex began racking up more debt, she says. “I spent our entire relationship trying to keep our boat from tipping every time he went on a buying spree,” she says.
“The problem with people who go into debt that is not college or medical related is, they generally get there because they don’t know how to control their own spending habits.,” Orban adds. “Once you pay off that debt, you have to continually guard them against their own bad habits, and it sometimes becomes an uphill struggle, as it did with me.” The couple has since broken up.
Walfish says that when you pay off someone’s debt, it’s important that you also create a plan to avoid future debt and, in some cases, a repayment plan that you put in writing. Bottom line: “Tread carefully,” says Orban — who adds that paying off someone else’s debt can sometimes be “the beginning of what may be an endless uphill battle.”
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