Debt is never pleasant. But when you’re in a relationship and you share the bills, debt can have a bigger impact. It not only affects your personal budget but your household budget as well. It can put a strain on your relationship as well as your finances. A huge bill means less money is available for your shared expenses. Follow these tips for dealing with debt as a couple:
- Don’t hide debt. One of the worst things you can do is try to cover up your debt. If (most likely when) your spouse finds out about it, this will create tension and feelings of mistrust. Order your credit reports and go through them together. Fully disclose your financial picture.
- Learn about finances together. You can never learn too much when it comes to money management. Take a financial course together or read a personal finance book together and discuss the main points in each chapter. A good book to consider is Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner by David Bach.
- Discuss major purchases. Agree that purchases of a certain dollar amount will be discussed beforehand. For example, you might decide that any item more than $100 has to be approved by both of you.
- Work together. Develop a plan for paying down the debt. Whether that means your spouse gets another job or you contribute more to a particular bill, decide on a resolution. Work as a team so that you can reach your shared goals more quickly and more efficiently.
For more on this topic, come back each Wednesday for a new Love and Money post.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.