Getting married is one of the best moments because you are going to get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend! Having cute date nights at home, creating routines, decorating your new place, paying bills, (wait, what?), talking to each other about your debt, (hold on, is that what they mean by “adulting”?) Talking about debt and paying bills is the last thing on an agenda. But if we aren’t talking, it will never get solved. One good thing about debt is that mostly everyone has it .
To break it down, solving debt is a team effort. There should be no blaming of who has the most debt or who made this happen. When you got married you became a team, that means your debt is theirs and theirs is yours. The great thing is that debt can be dealt with, so here are some solutions to help when you and your partner have debt. Here are some tips on how to speak with your spouse about debt:
Organize, Organize, Organize
Prior to bringing up this conversation up to your spouse, make sure you are organized. You do not want to start the conversation with “we have $200,000 in debt but I do not know how.” A better way is to have a list of all of your loans and then what you pay to them each month next to it. For example we owe:
-$14,000 on the car and pay $300 a month
-$150,000 in student loans and pay $500 a month
-$10,000 on our credit cards and pay the minimum a month
… and so on.
It will be hard to talk about the overall number because you both may feel discouraged about paying it off, but don’t be. Writing the number down is the first step!
Set a Goal Together
Dreams and thoughts about the future are common in couples. This is where working as a team will come into play again. Come up with a goal about your debt and how you will want to live until it is paid off. This can include how much money can be saved each month and the end goal of when you want it paid off by. These types of goals will vary couple to couple because every relationship and situation is different.
Getting to this step may have been hard because money can bring out the worst in people. Someone may have gotten emotional and the other may have been angry. Take a step back before moving onto this step together, and remember that you can work together to get rid of your debt and gain control of your finances!
Credit Card Debt
When it comes to credit card debt, it’s good to evaluate your statements, which shouldn’t be a hard or tedious task. It is as easy as finding out exactly where you are using your credit card each month and how often. Are you both using the credit card to eat out? Did you put a new television or laptop on it? It also could be as simple as very small items adding up to a big balance and in order to help yourself out, you’ll just need to change your habits. Discuss what sacrifices need to be made in order to have the money to pay off debt and other expenses each month.
Stop worrying so much
For most couples, credit card bills aren’t the only debt to worry about.. Most likely, both you and your spouse will have student loans to pay off after college. Researching ways to lower your monthly payments, like consolidating your current student loans. There might be other loans you’ve taken out on top of your student loans, such as automobile loans for your cars. Having debt from things like student loans and car loans can be scary when looking at those big numbers, but having a plan to deal with them is essential to getting started!
Let’s Take a Breather
There has been a lot of information about how to talk to your spouse about debt and you may feel defeated and nervous. All of that is okay! Money is hard to talk about especially when you are losing it, not making it. Feelings of discouragement might appear because you don’t want to change your lifestyle. Date nights and buying things for the new place are great, but it can be limited. There are great ways to still hold onto these fun married life things while still dealing with debt like stay at home date nights and free date ideas!
Here are a few quick tips that will help you have the debt conversation:
- Don’t let debt scare you, everyone has it!
- Stay on top of the bills (Be organized)
- Have your spouse help you; two sets of eyes on everything!
- Use budget calendars to keep track of the goal
- Celebrate small successes together
- Paid off one of the credit cards? Give each other a high five because you guys did that together.
Always remember, you are a team now! Work together on your goals and game plan. No matter how much debt there is, it will never overcome the love you have for each other!