How to Help Your Spouse or Partner Take Control of Their Debt
When romance is in the air practical things, like finances, are usually not foremost in your mind. Unfortunately, if you’re married or your relationship is serious, not talking about finances, or more specifically debt, can create challenges ahead and may even lead to a rocky future. Your partner’s debt isn’t necessarily a result of irresponsible spending. A variety of situations―lay-offs, pay cuts and unexpected medical situations―can lead to debt.
Approaching the topic can seem difficult so it’s important to remind yourself that solid, successful relationships are built on trust. Here are a few tips that may make broaching the subject easier:
Have an open and honest conversation with your partner
“What’s your credit score?” isn’t a very romantic conversation starter, so although it’s not something you may want to discuss immediately, if you’re beginning or in a serious relationship, is crucial. Lying about financial issues, or omitting information can be a deal-breaker for a relationship.
Rolling your eyes in disgust when they're buying that new electronic toy isn’t going to magically make them more financially responsible. Many people have made poor financial decisions so try to be understanding rather than judgmental. Making your partner feel guilty may make them feel as though they're being attacked and may even tempt them to start lying about their financial situation. Your partner may have valid reasons for past money issues. That doesn’t mean they aren't financially responsible now. Focus on encouragement instead of shame and anger.
Get the details
Find out what the total is, again without judgement, and how they are paying off the debt. If you approach it without causing them to feel bad you may be able to work together to devise a plan. Don’t forget to ask about other financial information. What kind of saver are they? What’s their relationship with money? Talking about finances can be awkward but it’s a must for a good relationship.
Be willing to work through it together
It’s always wise to know what you’re getting into so you’re not blindsided later down the road. If you approach it without judgement and work on it together, it can be a big step in building trust in your relationship.
It’s also important to understand your responsibility where debt is concerned. You should know when you’re liable for your spouse’s debt if you get married or you're headed for marriage.
Living in a community property state
You may be on the hook for your spouse’s debt if you live in a community property state, even if it was incurred by your husband or wife alone before you were married. There are many different factors and rules that determine your responsibility, but generally if the debt was for something that benefited your marriage, it may be deemed a community debt. If a purchase was only for your spouse, it may not be considered a community debt.
Marriage doesn’t mean you automatically assume your spouse’s debt
With the exception of rules governing community property states, just because you marry doesn’t mean you assume your husband or wife's debt. It’s only when your joint accounts after marriage acquire debt that you’re liable.
Remember that trust and honesty are key elements in a good relationship. Working with Family Credit Management can help you and your partner find your way out of debt and get your finances under control. Get your free quote at here.