Most couples enter relationships with some form of debt. Of these couples, 40% say that finances negatively affect their relationship. Worse, couples don’t always agree on who is responsible for what debt. These cases are perhaps most common in marriages, as married couples are more likely to take on debt together. If you’re currently struggling with your finances, here are five steps to help you ease the tension and get your marriage back on track.
One of the main reasons spouses fight over finances is dishonesty. Sometimes one person entered the marriage without disclosing how much money they owed or how they struggled with bad spending habits in the past. After marrying, one spouse may also have taken on additional debt without informing their partner, such as taking a mortgage out on the house for a business loan.
Without honesty in a marriage, it’s difficult to build trust. Without trust, there is no true partnership. Share the truth about your financial situation and make money decisions together. You should also clearly outline who is responsible for what percentage of each debt taken on during the marriage. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help solidify this.
After you clarify who is responsible for what, it’s time to start prioritizing repayments. To protect your finances and credit history, it’s important to continue making at least the minimum payments; however, making only the minimum payments keeps you in debt. Select one or two obligations to pay off at a faster rate; when they are paid, move on to paying down others more quickly.
There are several ways to decide which accounts to pay off first. Here are some of the types of debt people prioritize:
- Secured debts that use tangible and necessary items as collateral, such as your home
- Debts with higher interest rates, as this helps you to pay less in interest over time
- Smaller debts to build the momentum needed to tackle larger ones
- Debts someone else cosigned on, as it puts their finances at risk
Create a Payoff Plan
Deciding which debt to pay off first plays the biggest role in your payoff plan. However, this only takes care of the “what.” You also need to work on the “how.” If your partner is open to brainstorming with you and wants to help, see what ideas you can come up with together to bring in extra income.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Renting out an extra room in the house on Airbnb
- Delivering packages for Amazon
- Pet sitting via Rover on the weekends
- Driving for Uber or Lyft after work
- Selling anything you don’t need on eBay
Once you add up all the numbers, you may find that your finances are still in poor shape. Even worse, you may find that you’re still falling behind. If this is the case, then you may need to consider negotiating. The most effective way to do this is to hire a company to do it for you. Still, there are some people who attempt this on their own.
If you take this risk, it’s recommended that DIYers give a very clear picture of their finances. It’s also recommended to lowball the debt from the start and letting the creditor counter at a middle ground. If negotiators start where they are actually comfortable, the lender may not provide loan terms that are much more favorable than the current arrangement.
Plan for the Future
If you focus only on the sacrifices you’ll make during your debt payoff, it can make the process seem depressing. Instead, look beyond this. When you are finally free of debt, what will you and your partner do together? Will you finally take that belated honeymoon trip to the Maldives? Will you invest in real estate and retire early as landlords?
Planning out your finances for the future reminds you of what’s important by giving you something to look forward to. Note that this plan should not only include what you think you will spend money on later when you don’t have debt payments; you should also budget for emergency funds and save for retirement.
Get Professional Help
If you believe debt is driving a wedge between you and your spouse, contact our toll-free line at 877-973-3287. At Financial Rescue, we provide multiple debt relief options including debt settlement and debt consolidation programs. Let us work with you to get your finances in order and take steps toward a debt-free future.