Reader, did you happen to watch the episode of “Black Love” on Oprah Winfrey’s Network (OWN) when Viola Davis said she told her significant other before he was her husband that her credit score was a 540? When I saw that it resonated with me because I remember having a similar conversation with my significant other at about three months into our relationship. Although my credit score was not a 540, it certainly wasn’t stellar, but I’m working on it. And I’m not judging Viola. She is a star!
About two years ago, we were lying in bed watching television. He was joking with me about how nervous I was when he came to my house for the first time. I didn’t want to give him a tour of the house because of the condition it was in. The truth is, I was too embarrassed to let him see all of the unfinished projects throughout the house. After seeing his home, I felt as though I made too much money and I was too old to have multiple unfinished projects in my second home. He started probing more into why I felt so ashamed of a home that I claimed to love. I told him that I thought the house had potential, although I had been living there for seven years and had no cosmetic work done. This conversation then led to the fact that I was underwater in an overpriced house.
I told him that I was working part-time to get caught up on bills and house repairs and I had no intention of relocating anytime soon. He responded by saying, “That house is a bad investment and financially, it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in it because there will be no return on the investment.” He went on to say that it needed too much work, the mortgage is too expensive, and the interest rate is too high. He then said, “Babe, cut your loses”. He also reminded me that I am not the only one who was underwater after the recession. He reassured me by saying, “I’m not leaving your broke ass.”
Of course, I’m an emotional person and I tried to come up with every excuse to stay in the money pit. After giving it some thought, I surrendered. Previously, I tried the loan modification and I tried to refinance the house, but of course, it didn’t work. My only course of action was to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and include the house. I cringed at doing this because I knew that my credit would take a hit, but I had no other options. I contacted a lawyer and got the ball rolling.
It was a lengthy process. But when it was all said and done, my credit was satisfactory, I had saved enough money to move, and I was starting over again. The only debt I have left is a car payment and a student loan. The mortgage company allowed me to do a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure as well. This sped up the process of getting the house out of my name. In addition, I received a relocation fee which went into a savings account.
Lessons Learned (MoeTips)
I don’t have an answer for when you should tell your significant other about your finances, but it should be sooner than later. Being transparent early on when you love someone may save you issues in the long run if you decide to move forward with your relationship.
I recently listened to the “Journey to Launch” podcast with host Jamila Souffrant, when FiFi Buchanan of the “Wonderfully Made” podcast was interviewed. Ms. Buchanan said two things that resonated with me. First, she said that entrepreneurs who are millionaires bounced back after bankruptcy. I was never a millionaire, but I was able to bounce back. She also said we should strive to be whole and complete, not perfect. So instead of being ashamed of making a bad decision, do what you need to do to rebuild and wear it like a badge of honor.
Bankruptcy should be your last resort! Exhaust all other options first unless there is a loss of income in your household. In my case, there was no loss of income. I wanted to get out of a bad investment so I was willing to give up my house and cut my losses.
Ask your mortgage company about a loan modification or short sale. Don’t take out additional loans on top of loans because you have to pay them back. Consider finding different streams of income such as part-time jobs, over-time at your current job, or offering services to save money for house repairs.
Reader, when did you tell your significant other about your finances? How did he/she respond?