The Moneyist: My boyfriend moved in to increase his credit score. Now he wants to buy a home together — without saving any money

Dear Quentin,

I met my boyfriend in 2016.  One year later, he happened upon some hard times after helping his son with financial issues. This caused him to move out of his apartment and move in with his elderly parents. 

We spent a lot of time together, so he ended up moving in with me after several unsuccessful attempts to get another apartment because his credit was bad. I really didn’t want us to live together, but I knew that this would help him a great deal and that he would not have to worry about finding a place to live.

Five years later, we are still living together and I feel as though the relationship has always been about him, and what he wants and needs to do. It’s never about us.

He wanted to improve his credit, so I told him that I could help him do that because my credit score is over 800. I thought that if we are going to be together, his credit needs to be as good as mine.  He started out with all three scores in the low 500s, and now his highest score is 795. 

He wanted to buy a new car, which he purchased in 2020. There was nothing wrong with his car. (It was a want, not a need.) Now he wants to get married and buy a house so that we can use his VA loan.

‘He does not have a retirement plan or a savings account, but he wants us to buy a house with no deposit because he can do so with the VA loan.‘

He does not have a retirement plan or a savings account, but he wants us to buy a house with no deposit because he can do so with the VA loan. This is crazy, to buy a house with no money in the bank.

I own my own home, I have had the same job for over 20 years, I have a 401(k) and IRA accounts, and I also have several accounts that I put money into.  During the pandemic, I have been able to save over $15,000 in a very short time because I work from home. We don’t travel and we eat at home. This money will go toward our new home.

Last year, I told him that this is the time for us to pay down and pay off all debt and to save as much as possible if we are going to buy a house.  He said, “I am just trying to get a house with a VA loan and we don’t have to put any money down.” 

I make more money than he does and I am OK with that, but I need us to be on the same page with finances.  He wants to start a marriage with no thought of our financial security at all.

How can I get him to see that we need a financial plan together?

Miss Struggling

Dear Miss Struggling,

Your boyfriend’s continued reliance on you belies his years-long pursuit to regain his financial footing and achieve independence.

There is one line that stuck out from your letter: “I really didn’t want us to live together.” It suggests that you have become more embroiled in your boyfriend’s finances through a series of moves that have either made you uncomfortable or pushed your personal boundaries. The house is the latest and, perhaps, the biggest pressure on your comfort zone.

If you are not sure about buying a home with him, don’t do it. It also seems clear that you don’t want to take this step with your boyfriend — and if he needs you to buy one with him, it would be a good idea to save money. He needs to stand on his own two feet, if he is going to do things his way. It may be the right choice for him, but it does not seem like the right one for you.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with his buying a new car, but you should not be the safety cushion for his financial decisions. You have done that long enough.

To answer your question: You can’t get someone to see things your way and then act upon them. You can live your life in a way that brings you peace of mind, and he can do the same. It’s not your job to manage his life. However, his problems will become your problems if and/or when you buy a home or marry, so be sure that you have the same goals and values before you sign either contract.

There’s one word that did not appear in your letter, but it permeates it nevertheless: trust. It does not appear that you trust him to make sound financial decisions and, given what you have said, he is not willing to learn from the mistakes of the past. You say he helped his son, but he — and he alone — is responsible for allowing his credit score to slip to the low 500s.

Unless he takes accountability for his own role in his past finances, he is unlikely to take responsibility for future decisions.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

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group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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