Money problems are some of the biggest reasons why couples fight. Stress about paying the bills and having enough money to live on can weight down on a marriage. The effects of debt are more powerful than most people realize. Let’s take a closer look at how debt can damage your marriage, and what you can do to get out of debt.
The Side Effects of Debt
Debt = stress. It may be subtle stress day to day, or it may be major stress that hits with every monthly payment. No matter what form it takes though, it is stress. Any issues that you already have in your marriage will naturally be enhanced when you feel stressed. The stress makes it difficult for your mind to process emotions in a healthy manner, which may cause you to lash out at your spouse.
Debt is a catalyst for marital fights. Getting it under control will help you maintain peace in the household.
How to Avoid Debt before Marriage
If you can go into married without debt, that is ideal. However, that may be unavoidable in certain circumstances. You may have old medical bills or student loans to pay off that will take years to repay. In that case, make sure your spouse is aware of your debts before marriage.
Some debts are avoidable though, such as credit card bills and small personal loans. Stay away from furniture and electronics at buy here pay here retailers. Unless you pay those off in the 3-4 month same-as-cash timeframe, you’ll end up spending two to three times more to get a product there. Buy secondhand furniture, watch for big sales, or simply save up to get the items you want. The stress you’ll feel with those high monthly payments is not healthy for your future marriage.
Be mindful of your spending when it comes to the wedding. Couples spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single event, but that money could be going toward a house, a vehicle, or other big purchases. Keep your costs as low as possible, and avoid going into debt because of marriage.
How to Pay off Debt during Your Marriage
Here are some quick tips for paying off debt while married:
- Identify which debts you want to pay off first. You could use the snowball method, where you pay small debts and work up to larger ones, or you could pay off the debts that cause the most stress each month.
- Determine who is responsible for each debt (if there are two incomes). A recent study from Fidelity Investments showed that 49% of married couples contradicted each other when identifying this responsibility. You could both work to pay off one debt quickly, or you could pay off multiple debts separately. Just make sure you have a plan.
- Put as much money as you can toward your debt. You should still be saving a little money each month, but try to get out of debt fast. That will free up more money for future savings, and it will reduce the amount of interest that you pay.
- Know your monthly budget and stick to it. Leave room for some fun experiences, like date nights or family outings. Make the debt repayment part of your bill structure. If you need to cut back on something, like reducing your phone or cable plan, do so until your debts are eliminated.
- Once a debt is repaid, use that monthly money to pay off another debt. If you were paying $500 a month on student loans, that money can now go to your credit cards. If you have no more small debt to pay, consider paying off your house or car faster. Once all that is done, you can put the extra money into savings every month.
The faster you get out of debt, the better you will feel. You may also use our debt prevention tips to stay out of debt in the future. Keep the stress to a minimum, and you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your relationship.