This is a guest post from Barbara Delinsky.
A successful marriage and debt – Can it go hand in hand? There are instances of ‘Debt’ spoiling a marital relationship.
But, is it impossible? No, it’s not.
You can protect your marriage while paying off your debts successfully. All you need is a good understanding with your spouse, patience and a realistic debt payment strategy.
Check out the following tips to get rid of debt while keeping your marriage alive.
UNDERSTAND THAT PAYING OFF DEBT IS NECESSARY
Both of you need to realize that paying off debt is a prerequisite to preserving your marital relationship, irrespective of who’s responsible for the debt or when you accumulated debt – before or after marriage.
HAVE AN HONEST DISCUSSION WITH YOUR PARTNER
A discussion is necessary among couples to solve day-to-day problems, and ‘debt’ is not an exception; rather, it’s mandatory. Have an honest discussion – If you’re responsible for the debt, admit it and ask your partner to help you out to solve your debt problems. Make a commitment to pay it off together.
According to Taffy Wagner, owner of Money Talk Matters, “The couple should own up to the fact that they have debt. They need to sit down and develop a game plan for paying it off, accept the choices and then determine what they are going to do about it.”
MAKE NECESSARY PLANS AND DIVIDE RESPONSIBILITIES
Discuss and decide whether you’ll opt for professional help or try out DIY methods first. If both of you are confident, you can choose to repay your debts on your own.
There are more things to plan. One of you should take the responsibility of managing the bills and statements, and transferring the required amount to the specific accounts as per your strategy. Another person can check whether or not the payments are made on time, and how to save more. However, both of you should discuss and plan a budget which you can follow with ease.
MAINTAIN GRACE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
It is quite natural that frustrations will rise and both of you will say things which you’ll regret later. However, try to maintain grace in the marital relationship while paying off debt. Most of the times, anger is generated from fear; so, try to find out what is bothering you.
It is not necessary that your spouse will be equally motivated to pay off debt; but, you can encourage him/her to pay them off or at least, help you in your journey to be debt free, which will ultimately improve your overall financial situation.
PRACTICE A FRUGAL LIFESTYLE AND HAVE FUN
For the time being, practice a frugal lifestyle. It doesn’t mean that you’d have to compromise with your enjoyment.
For example, decide a no-spend weekend, and have fun without spending money. Sound like ‘Mission Impossible’? I promise, it's not.
You can go on a hike, play board games, host a potluck party, do some DIY work (paint furniture, organize photos, etc.), go fishing, redesign your room, etc. Believe me! It can be fun to spend time with each other and also strengthen your bond.
PRIORITIZE YOUR EXPENSES AND DEBTS
First of all, list your daily necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. Be careful not to splurge. Then, make sure you make the minimum payments on your secured loans to stay current on them. After that, target one debt to pay off along with making the minimum payment on others.
MOTIVATE EACH OTHER
It is a bit difficult to stay motivated on your debt payoff journey, especially if it’s too long. So, to avoid this, both of you need to motivate each other. To do so, keep looking at the finish line and what you can do once both of you are debt free. Think something which motivates you – like going on a dream vacation, planning for a child, buying a house, planning for early retirement, etc.
SELECT YOUR PREFERRED DEBT RELIEF STRATEGY
You can also combine both the strategies. How?
Instead of targeting one debt, you can target two debts at the same time. The extra amount, which you need to make towards paying off your debts, divide it equally, and pay one portion towards the smallest balance and the remaining one towards the highest interest debt.
After you pay off your debt, it's important that both of you work together to develop a plan for spending – that is, create a budget. You shouldn’t feel trapped; instead, discuss with each other and determine how much each of you can spend in a month.
Before making any purchase, especially a big ticket item, discuss whether the purchase is need or want.
This way, both of you can live debt free and enjoy a financially happy married life.
Barbara Delinsky has expertise in personal finance and she loves to share her thoughts with her readers. She has written for a number of blogs. In her spare time, Barbara loves exploring new places and witness their culture. You can get in touch with her on twitter @DelinskyBarbara.