Barefoot, should I call off my wedding?

My column last week — why engagement rings are a scam (and why you’ll buy one anyway) — went off like a drunk uncle on the dance floor. I was flooded with emails.

Perhaps it’s because we’re in the peak season for weddings.

Or maybe it’s because it coincided with the finale of The Bachelor, where Richie chose his winning woman. Richie gave us a candid insight into the depths of his love and devotion when he confessed to the media:

“I had the biggest blue balls in Australia.”

What a man! What a catch!

Now my older readers may not know who Richie is or, for that matter, what “blue balls” are.

Try googling it.

On second thought, don’t do that. Seriously. You really don’t want to do that.

Instead, let’s shift our attention from contrived reality television to three real wedding emails I received this week — enough to make the Bachelor look blue.

Should I Call Off My Wedding?

Dear Scott,

I am 28 and getting married in two weeks. I am having doubts about going through with it for many reasons, most of them financial, which is why I am writing to you.

My fiancé is a real estate agent and owns his own agency, which is set up in a trust. There have been instances where employees haven’t been paid. He’s a big talker, which doesn’t go down well with my father, or my brothers, all of whom are tradies.

We bought a home for $1.2 million two years ago, but he borrowed the money, not me. So is the house debt mine as well? He also took out a credit card in my name, without my approval. And there are lease payments on his Mercedes-Benz (I drive a Kia — but again, do I have to pay?). Please help me! Please don’t publish this!

Lisa*

(*name changed)

Yes, this is a real question … and yes, she didn’t want it published.

So I called her.

Barefoot: “Hi Lisa. Now I’m no Dr Phil, but when a bride-to-be is two weeks out from her wedding and she’s more concerned with her financial exposure than her flower arrangements … well, I think that’s telling.”

Lisa: “Do you think so?”

Barefoot: “Yes, I do think so.”

Lisa: “It’s just that we’ve already paid for everything … and we won’t get our money back … and everyone’s RSVP’d … and it’s in two weeks!”

Barefoot: “You’re thinking about the next fortnight — I’m thinking about the next forty years.”

Lisa: “I feel sick.”

Barefoot: “This could be the luckiest day of your life.”

Postscript:

On Wednesday morning this week I received the following text message from Lisa:

“Thank you for taking the time to call. I really needed to hear your advice. Wedding has been called off. Surprisingly, he took it well! Everyone has been supportive of my decision. Feel free to publish. It could give other people hope if they’re in the same situation!”

One wedding down, let’s go to the next email.

Who Keeps the $11,000 Engagement Ring?

Barefoot,

I just read your article on engagement rings being a rip-off. It was very timely because I certainly got ripped off. I proposed to my girlfriend of three years last November with a 1.2 carat ring which cost $11k. She said yes. Her phone went off one night when she was asleep and, long story short, she’d been banging another bloke! I called off the engagement, but get this, she won’t give me back the ring. Won’t even talk to me. I want the ring back. What can I do?

Ben*

Hi Ben,

Trust me, you don’t want the ring back.

What would you do with it? Give it to your next flame?

As I said last week, the truth is that buying an engagement ring is like buying a new car: the moment you walk out of the showroom, the price drops by 30–50%.

Now, given you were in a de facto relationship for at least two years, the ring will form part of the property division that you may want to pursue legally. The only problem with ‘lawyering up’ is that you could be throwing good money after bad (and money spent on lawyers in a relationship breakdown is almost always classified as ‘bad money’).

Instead, look on the bright side: she cost you only $11,000 (she’ll cost some other dude a lot more than that). You got off lightly. Good on you.

(P.S. Tell her it was a cubic zirconia.)

Marriage, Mortgage, Midgets

Hi Scott,

Love reading your column each week! My fiancee is pregnant and we have a wedding coming up, all booked in. We then have less than five months to the birth of our child, plus a large mortgage that we cannot afford on only one income. Is my bank required to freeze my repayments while my fiancee is on maternity leave? I will be asking them either way, but please set my mind at ease. It is almost worth having her fired otherwise!

Terry*

Terry, Terry, Terry.

You really haven’t thought this through, have you, cobber!

What you’re referring to is applying for a ‘hardship variation’ on your home loan. You have the right to apply for a variation, and the bank is legally required to consider your application — but they don’t have to agree to it.

Even if they do agree to temporarily freeze or reduce your repayments, they’ll get their pound of flesh by extending the loan and adding the interest on the end. It’ll cost you more in the long run. It’s like Usain Bolt sawing off one of his legs so he can compete at the Paralympics. Sure, it’s an option, but what’s the long-term cost?

Relationships Australia says that 80 per cent of relationships that break down do so because of money problems — and you have more money problems than most. So look at the next five months as your Marriage Olympics: the two of you need to work out a realistic five-year plan. It’ll involve making tough decisions — the first of which is to cancel your honeymoon. Sing it with me, Terry: “The honeymoon is over, baby, it’s never going to be that way … again.”

There’s No Need for Blue Balls (or Bank Accounts)

Don’t hold out like old Richie. If you’ve got a prolonged state of … monetary tension … let it out by heading over to AskBarefoot and hit me with your best shot.

Tread Your Own Path!