Although marriage and finances go hand in hand, they can also feel like oil and water sometimes.
Money is often a source of contention in relationships. It’s easy to argue about because people have different views on how to handle finances. If you’re in debt, money can seem like an even more sensitive subject.
When you and your spouse feel like you’re drowning in debt, it can add a lot of stress to your relationship. Plus, the stress can carry over into other areas of your marriage. You might be easily irritable or anxious, which can lead to more arguing, more blame, etc.
It’s important to understand that you’re on a team. Marriage and finances can work together when you’re willing to tackle debt as a team.
Be Honest About Debt
One of the worst things you can do is hide your debt or avoid talking about it. Since you both understand your financial situation, avoiding a hard conversation will make matters worse.
You might be embarrassed, ashamed, or even scared. But, talking to your partner about your debt will reassure you both that you’re not alone. It might be easier to come up with a solution together rather than living in fear by yourself.
Your conversation should also include a discussion on how you accumulated the debt. One (or both) of you may need to change your spending habits.
Furthermore, establish a budget as a couple. In any case, it’s important to remind each other that you’re in this together and that you’ll work out a plan to get out of debt together, too.
Create a Plan
Talking to your partner about your debt will allow you to put your heads together to find a solution.
After all, several different strategies exist to pay off a large amount of debt. So, you have to figure out what will work best for you and your relationship.
You might need to move some things around in your budget and cut back in other areas so you can start to pay off certain bills.
Or, you can choose more traditional options like the snowball method. This allows you to pay off the smallest debts first, and work your way up to the larger ones.
Think About Your Future
Whether your debt was accrued by one or both of you, it’s vital to change your spending habits and your mindset about finances to live debt-free.
If you end up paying off all of your debt without changing your habits, it won’t take long for you to be back in the same place.
Changing the way you think about your finances isn’t easy, especially if one person in the marriage has a bigger problem with it than the other. But that kind of commitment is required for debt-free living in the future.
One thing that can help you is to create a financial plan for your marriage. Once you have a solid budget in place, you can talk about how much each of you can spend without consulting one another.
Be sure to leave a little extra money in your budget for emergencies, unexpected situations, and even fun. Creating a budget as a couple doesn’t have to be as restrictive as most people think. You both need to agree on the budget, and you need to ensure your bills are paid—with future financial goals in mind.
Still struggling with marriage and finances, and you can’t see a way to fix it? If you’re in the East Bay area, feel free to contact me to set up an appointment.