Credit Card Debt

5 Tips for Talking to Your Partner about Debt

how couples get out of debt
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Once you’ve found the person you want to spend your life with, you’ll want to do what it takes to keep your relationship strong. And sometimes, money problems and debt stress can make that tricky.

Even though talking about your finances can be scary, bringing it up now could help you avoid future relationship or marriage issues and foster a deeper and more supportive connection between the two of you. Here are some simple tips for talking to your partner about debt so you can overcome it and build a better life together.

1. Be honest

When you’re in a serious relationship, —especially when it comes to money issues. Letting your partner know about your money problems is important if you want a relationship based on honesty and trust. Plus, being truthful about your debt could lead to more open communication in all areas of your relationship.

If you keep your debt a secret, you could be creating tension in the relationship without even realizing it. Talking openly about student loans, credit cards, personal loans, and other forms of debt with your partner could help bring you closer. And chances are, they may have some debt of their own to talk about.

These discussions don’t have to be too serious, either. Why not make a date of it? You can each get a free copy of your credit report and go over them together.

2. Identify wants and needs

Aftertal king to your partner about your debt situation, sit down with all of your bank and credit card statements and identify unnecessary expenses together. This is a problem you can solve together.

  • Look through your statements and highlight “Needs,” like your mortgage, car payments, and insurance in one color.
  • Highlight “Nice-to-Haves,” like gym memberships, cable, or high-speed internet, in another color.
  • Finally, highlight “Wants,” like entertainment or expensive restaurants in a third color.

Once you’ve created these three categories, discuss which expenses you can afford to cut as a couple. Then, plan out how much you’ll put against the debt each month.

3. Support each other

Budgeting, cutting back, and paying off debt isn’t always easy. But knowing that you have someone on your side who supports you and wants the best for you could give you the extra motivation you need to get out of debt. By talking to your partner about debt, encouraging each other, and committing to a common goal, you won’t just improve your financial wellbeing—you could also strengthen your bond as a couple.

4. Set goals and reward yourselves

Getting out of debt could take a long time, so it’s important to break your ultimate goal into smaller, more manageable ones—like staying on track with your monthly budget, paying off a credit card, or reaching other milestones in your debt repayment plan. After achieving each of your goals, reward yourselves with a night out, a bottle of wine, or a special home-cooked meal. Just remember to stay within your budget.

You could even make a game out of the weekly goals you set for yourselves. For example, one week you could have a contest to see who can save the most money. Whoever wins could get to choose the next movie you watch, get a neck massage, or have a pass from doing their least favorite chore for a few days. Celebrating your victories together can help keep you and your partner motivated throughout the process of solving your money problems.

5. Know when to seek help

Why do couples fight about their finances? Because money problems put pressure on each person in the relationship, creating feelings of guilt, fear, and anxiety that can make them lash out or act irrationally. If you’re worried that debt is starting to negatively affect your relationship, it may be time to get professional help.

Some people try financial counseling for couples, where you and your partner talk to financial expert or a representative from a credit counseling agency about how to deal with your debt. Using this method, a credit counselor may be able to reduce the interest rate on your credit card debt if you enroll in a debt management plan.

And… understand your debt relief options

However, if you and your significant other are experiencing a financial or life hardship, or struggling to make minimum payments on your debt, it might be time to go another route. To that end, Freedom Debt Relief is here to help you understand your options for dealing with your debt, including our debt settlement program which could help you reduce the total amount of debt you owe. Our Certified Debt Consultants can help you find a solution that will put you on the path to a better financial future. Find out if you qualify right now. 

John Russo is a Creative Manager at Freedom Financial Network. His goal is to make the world of personal finance more accessible so that everyday people can find the right financial solutions for themselves. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, reading pretty much anything, and spending time with his fiancée and two cats.