On November 4th 2018, my husband and I said “I do” to a lifetime together. Three months in and we are still beginning the process of merging our lives into one, from car insurance policies to retirement beneficiaries. When you add student loans into the mix, things can become…well complicated. Thankfully, my husband came into the marriage with no debt. However, my student loan debt luggage totals to approximately $60,000. Although, your spouse does not have a legal responsibility to pay back your student loans. Having debt can affect your marriage and can hold you back financially. Here are some of my tips for handling student loans as a couple.
- Look at the Numbers
How much debt are you bringing in exactly? Write it down and show it to your spouse. My training as a nurse has always taught me to assess the situation first. The principle is the same for figuring out a repayment plan for student loan debt. Rewinding back even further, it is okay to ask this question while seriously dating someone. If you are considering marriage, you’ll need to tackle finances together, which includes debt.
- Be Understanding
Student Loan debt isn’t a luxury. It isn’t the result of going out to buy a fancy car or racking up thousands of credit card debt. It was a ticket to an education that was otherwise unavailable to you without the loan. Be understanding in your conversation about student loan debt with your spouse and do not judge them for their decisions. They did what was best for them at that time.
While attempting to repay student loans, sacrifices will need to be made. Decide on what you are willing to sacrifice. We decided financial freedom was more important than buying a house right away. We decided that we would have to sacrifice our travels and limit ourselves to one vacation for the year. We decided that eating out needs to become more of a luxury and to limit it.
- Create A Plan Together
Student loans can affect your marriage. Even if only one person is paying them, that is money that could have otherwise been used to build wealth in the marriage. Our plan is holding off on buying a home, making bi-weekly payments, starting with the smallest loans and with the highest interest rates. Although every couple handles finances differently, however you decide to do it…you must have a plan that you create together.