Some folks may avoid debt because they worry about judgment or starting a fight. But as newlyweds, it’s critical to discuss these topics, even when it’s uncomfortable, because it could impact your finances as a couple. Here are some ways to tackle the subject and craft a payoff plan together.
Talk about your values
If you have been scared to approach debt, Ingebritson says to start by exploring your values, money lessons you learned growing up, and how it may affect your finances. For example, your families may have different socioeconomic backgrounds, which may have impacted your levels of student loan debt. “Oftentimes people will have ‘aha’ moments and that’s a way to disarm some of their current situation,” she says.
Be honest about the numbers
This part may be the hardest: Be honest about the debt numbers. “Nothing beats a good old spreadsheet,” says Ingebritson. You may use a spreadsheet to list the amount of each debt, including interest rates. Putting the numbers out there may make it easier to discuss the next steps.
Regardless of where the debt came from, Ingebritson says to remember that debt doesn’t define you, your partner, or your future together. “You’re in the relationship together and this is just one part of your life,” she adds.
Make a plan to tackle your goals
Once you have revealed the numbers, you can start talking about a payoff strategy. Depending on your situation, you may choose to tackle the debt on your own or as a couple. Ingebritson says there is no right or wrong decision.
When it comes to debt payoff strategies, there are a few popular tactics. You may use the debt snowball, which focuses on your smallest debts first. Or you may prefer to pay off the highest interest rates first with the debt avalanche. The debt blizzard is another option that combined both methods.
No matter how much debt you have, Ingebritson says it’s possible to make progress over time, and get to a better financial place.
Rely on the power of automation
One of the best ways to accomplish your goals — regardless of which payoff strategy you use — is to rely on the power of automation. Ingebritson suggests opening different accounts for bills and debt, savings, and fun money.
“One of my top hacks is to check if your employer offers a split-direct deposit because most employers these days do offer the ability for your paycheck to be split into multiple accounts,” she recommends.
Reframe your approach to debt
When you’re grappling with debt, it’s easy to get lost in the cycle of shame, but Ingebritson says it could be a way to build your relationship and make it even stronger. By accomplishing goals together, you may form new bonds that make it easier to tackle future challenges. “Ultimately, managing finances with your partner is a form of intimacy,” she says.