Marriage is about two people joining their lives together. Making the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone also
means sharing financial decisions and taking care of debts together. Both parties may be entering the marriage with student loans, credit card debt
, or personal loans. While in New Jersey you are not legally responsible for debt your spouse accrued before your marriage, you will become
a financial team with your spouse. This means helping each other tackle debts both from before and after you say “I do.” Here are some tips on tackling marriage debt and subsequently reducing the financial stress in your relationship.
While ideally you should enter into a marriage with a full understanding of your spouse’s financial situation, it is never too late to sit down and have the money talk. Overcoming debt together requires open, honest communication about what you bring to the marital table financially. Don’t just talk about your debts, talk about your goals, too. What will paying off this debt allow you to do as a couple? Setting financial goals together will allow you to both motivate each other and hold each other accountable.
It's important to keep in mind that you are in this together. After marriage, individual debt becomes “our debt.” Couples who have the most success tackling debt together
tend to face their financial situation as teammates. Focus less on who brought more debt to the table and more on how each of you can contribute towards the goal of paying down the debt. Instead of only focusing on your debt individually, you will be able to stretch your money farther. Paying off debt when you’re working with two incomes will be easier than doing it alone.
Learning how to budget for two people (or more if you have children) will be very important to paying down your marriage debts. Don’t assume you and your spouse are on the same page about sticking to a specific budget. Sit down and determine how much money is coming in and out of the household on a weekly and monthly basis. You should both have a good understanding of your living expenses, debts, and financial goals. Be honest with your spouse about any financial difficulties you might be facing and see how you can fit this into your budget as a couple. After you know what your shared budget is, you will be able to come up with a realistic plan to pay off your debt.
Once you have a budget in place and a plan to pay off your debts, make sure you keep the conversation going. Check in with each other to make sure the budget you set is still in line with your financial realities and that you are making progress towards your goals. Like marriage, paying off debt is a long-term commitment that requires a lot of dedication and flexibility. Be patient with yourself and your partner as you take on the task of ridding yourselves of debt.
Make tackling debt together part of your goals as a couple. Financial difficulties are the leading cause
of marital stress. If you have been struggling to pay down your debts and it is creating a strain within your marriage, it may be time to seek outside help. Veitengruber Law
offers debt solution services to help you manage your debt and get back on track to financial health. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation.