Tired of being single? Maybe you should pay down your debt
'If you don't lug around a lot of credit card debt, you're a lot more marketable than somebody who does'
If you're looking to impress someone this Valentine's day, maybe you should start by paying down that credit card debt.
"Let's be straight. If you don't lug around a lot of credit card debt, you're a lot more marketable than somebody who does," said author and personal finance coach Lesley-Anne Scorgie.
"Statistics continue to show that people just don't want to be involved in basically cleaning up the financial baggage that someone's brought into the relationship," she said.
According to Scorgie, financial compatibility is just as important as your personal compatibility when it comes to dating and long-term relationships.
"How you spend your money often reflects your deeply rooted values, and sometimes that can be a bit of a source of contention if couples aren't aligned," she said.
Eighty per cent of couples report having some kind of financial snafu in their relationship at least once a year, Scorgie said.
How to gauge financial compatibility
It may seem taboo to talk about money and personal debt loads when you're still in the rosy dating phase, but Scorgie recommends broaching the subject with "soft-fall questions" within the first three dates.
Conversations about who pays for dinner and comments like, "Hey, I'm a saver. How about you?" are soft entry points into the bigger conversation of how you handle your money, she said.
If you're uncomfortable with talking about it, you can also silently observe your dating partner to get a sense of how they approach finances, Scorgie said.
"If they're rolling around in a Range Rover but don't really have the source of income to support that, it probably means they're in debt."
If you find yourself in a relationship where you spend more time finger-pointing and justifying your spending behavior, it might be time to examine where your financial habits are coming from, she said.
"Often, that's coming from deeply-rooted values, things that you saw in your childhood," she said.
"If you can't deal with the root cause, it's going to resurface again and again, and if you keep sweeping it under the rug, it will come back."
How to dig yourself out of debt
Suffice to say if it were easy to get out of debt, no one would be mired in it.
The trick to becoming debt-free is to first stop accumulating it, and then draft a solid debt reduction plan, Scorgie said.
This means paying the highest interest debt first, consolidating your debts and cutting up your credit cards, Scorgie said.
She recommends a 60-60-60 plan where you focus on eliminating a different debt every 60 days, with a focus on paying down the highest interest debts first.
"This requires some huge discipline."
But there is some good news for those willing to try.
"Relationships, as they're budding and growing, tend to do well and they survive if the person that is indebted has a great plan to get rid of the debt."