Money is one of the most common stressors in a relationship, and couples that fight regularly about their finances are 30 percent more likely to divorce, according to the study “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce,” published in Family Relations, 2012. Honesty and planning ahead can help alleviate budgeting issues.
Couples following these tips can work out a plan and become debt-free:
- Talk to each other. A realistic expectation of each other’s finances is crucial. Couples should talk about everything – income, outstanding loans and, particularly, progress on debt reduction.
- Understand the law. Marriage complicates finances. One spouse is almost never liable for debts a partner incurred before marriage, but in communal property jurisdictions, a person might be liable for any money either party borrowed. Know where the law stands, and consult with a financial advisor to make sure you’re fully prepared.
- Finance is yours, mine and ours. As a rule, it’s a good idea to have separate bank accounts as well as joint ones, just in case.
- Debt is always a factor. A heavy debt load can affect the willingness of lenders to lend, which affects where people can afford to live. Realistic expectations for life are imperative.
- Lower the amount you’ll pay on your debts. Couples should take steps to reduce the amount they actually pay. This can include everything from doing a balance transfer for credit card debt, refinancing a mortgage and looking into student loan consolidation. A lower mortgage rate may come at the price of fees and higher property taxes. Similarly, debt consolidation is a good option for some, but it’s definitely not one size fits all.
- Couples are in it together. Money talk should never come between partners. With some planning and focus, couples can weather the debt storm.