Money is one of the most common causes of stress in a relationship. Couples that have regular fights about their financial situation are 30 percent more likely to divorce. While this statistic is scary, taking an honest approach to the topic and planning accordingly can keep stress to a minimum.
Be honest, starting early in the relationship.
As money is a sensitive topic for many couples, it is easy to avoid it, especially at the beginning of a new relationship. While you don’t want to spring the news of major credit card debt on a first date, you also don’t want to wait until you’re a year into a relationship or longer.
Familiarize yourself with the law.
You aren’t responsible for any debts that a partner took on before marriage but there are situations where you are liable for a partner’s balance. For example, if you co-sign a car loan, you are still responsible for it, whether or not you are married.
Factor debt into your planning.
As you budget for monthly spending and make long-term plans such as saving up for a house, make sure to consider debt. Set realistic financial goals and if possible,don’t take on any more debt.
Create separate finances as it is appropriate.
It is possible to support a partner financially without assuming debt in your own name. For example, a partner can have credit card debt in his name and you can still help him with the payments.
Whenever possible, consolidate and refinance loans.
Monitor your accounts for changes in rates and fees. Think about doing a balance transfer, a refinance or a consolidation as it makes sense to do so.
Seek outside help when needed.
For example, if you need help managing your credit, you may want to consider credit counseling. This process helps consumers manage the debt while providing advice and techniques that will keep them from taking on additional debt.
Remember that you’re taking this on together.
Regardless of the amount and nature of the debt, it is important to be supportive and kind to your partner.