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10 Reasons Not to Get Married While You’re In Debt

10 Reasons Not to Get Married While You’re In Debt

Love. Pure, unabashed, crazy love. It makes people want to do courageous and life-altering things.

Like get married.

For many, there is nothing better than having a best friend and life partner. Unfortunately, for at least half the world’s married population, marriage won’t last forever. The issues leading to divorce are varied and complex.

I can tell you one thing, in my experience as a Phoenix divorce attorney, by far, the top reason leading to divorce is stress over money.

If you want to get married and stay married, talk with your significant other about money before you walk down the aisle. If you or your partner is saddled with a mountain of debt, consider NOT getting married just yet. Here’s why:

1. The best way to start a marriage is “fresh.”

No, we don’t live in a perfect world. Yes, there is some debt that is “good” debt (maybe like student loan debt), and yes, there is some debt that might not be paid off until you are on your deathbed (like student loan debt). Before getting married, talk with your partner about the debt that you each have, whether that debt is “good” or “bad” and whether you should put a wedding on hold until you pay all, some or most of it off.

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Entering into a marriage with a boatload of already existing “bad” debt is overwhelming. Instead of focusing on your financial future together, your energy will be spent figuring out how to manage money messes created in “another life.”

2. You want to have resources available when emergency strikes.

Have you ever been in a situation where just as you were getting ahead financially, your car died and you had to pay for expensive repairs? Yep. Thought so. We’ve all been there.

Already having a mountain of debt could affect your ability to get an emergency loan for that car or roof repair. In other words, if you are forced to pay your mechanic for an engine overhaul instead of paying the Best Buy credit card bill, you can bet your bottom dollar one thing will happen:

Stress and tension in the marriage will go through the roof when the bill collectors start a ringin’.

3. Being in debt could be a sign of a deeper, emotional issue.

Just like alcoholism, spending can be an addiction. A spending “problem” doesn’t mean a person isn’t “good.” It could, however, mean a person is satisfying an emotional need by heading to the casino with credit cards in hand every weekend. As with any other addiction, the one with the “problem” has to acknowledge the “problem” to begin the recovery process. The failure to admit a problem while single-handedly causing the financial destruction of your relationship or your partner’s credit will certainly doom the marriage.

4. The excessive debt of one party could be a sign that you don’t share the same values.

When you are feeling that crazy high you get from being in love, you might overlook something big: similar values over spending and money.

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You and your partner are different people. You can learn from each other. However, before tying the knot, have a frank discussion over your respective spending philosophies, how you will spend as a couple, and what your financial goals are for the relationship.

Doing this before getting married will either get you more into alignment on finances…or not. Either way, you will be walking into a marriage with open eyes over the spending values of your partner. That will put you one step ahead of many couples.

5. A large amount of debt can be an obstacle when trying to buy a house, car, or major shared purchase.

People get married to build a life together. Most individuals believe that with a partner, they can build something bigger and greater than they could alone. Imagine the shock and disappointment that will happen when one person learns they (the couple) can’t qualify for a home loan because of the high debt-to-income ratio of one spouse.

When you and your partner are talking about your mutual financial future, consider whether debt already exists and whether being in debt could affect the realization of your shared financial dreams.

6. In many places in the United States, a partner is “on the hook” for the spending of the spouse whether the partner knew about the spending or not.

Regardless of whether the spending is caused by a lack of shared financial values or an addiction, debt could plague both parties during the marriage and after the marriage is over. Depending on the laws of your state, if your partner made it a habit to max out credit cards for designer handbags or trips to the spa, in the event of divorce, you could be on the hook for paying some of that debt back…even if you had no idea it was happening!

The fact that you or your partner has racked up significant debt when you are dating could be a clue that a problem exists and needs to be addressed.

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7. If your spouse has children from another relationship, back child support debt could lead to the examination of YOUR finances.

A person might be the best parent on the planet. That same person could have a gigantic judgment against him or her for child support arrearages. Depending on your jurisdiction, the failure to pay child support without a good reason could lead to serious penalties (which could include incarceration).

In evaluating the reasons for the failure to pay child support, a court will want to examine a person’s whole financial picture. This picture could include the standard of living as evidenced by joint bank account statements and joint tax returns. This will likely make one spouse feel exposed, violated and stressed out, things which are not good for the overall health of the relationship.

8. If you and your spouse plan to start a family, prepare for large chunks of money to begin leaving your bank account immediately.

Before a woman gives birth, she can bet her bottom dollar that her OB/GYN will want a guarantee of payment (or payment in full) for the delivery before it happens. Even if you have insurance and are responsible for a small portion of the whole cost of the birth, your out-of-pocket expense could still be thousands of dollars. In the months and weeks after the birth, expect to receive bills from other medical providers for blood tests, hearing tests, and various unexpected types of tests.

This is just the beginning!

Before getting married and having kids, deal with payment of that Visa bill so you can devote all your resources to the birth and care of your children. When the kids come, that is what you’ll want. That is what they’ll deserve.

9. Borrowing money to pay debt down during marriage could negatively affect important relationships.

In cases when disaster does strike during marriage and people aren’t able to make ends meet because of unpaid debt, they turn to family and friends. If a family member or friend is not able to help by giving a loan, this could cause tension in the relationship, especially if either side harbors resentment over the loan request or the failure to lend.

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If the friend or family member does lend the money, bad feelings happen when the money isn’t paid back in the time period promised (or at all). What inevitably results from a broken promise to pay will be a damaged relationship with one or some of the most important people in your lives.

This could lead to isolation, depression and general unhappiness, all of which will affect your relationship with your partner.

10. If you are planning a special wedding ceremony, prepare to accumulate more debt.

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is over $25,000. Some people are lucky enough to have parents who will foot the entire bill. Other couples pay for their weddings themselves.

If you and your partner are “on your own,” no matter how small you keep it, things will get pricey. The wedding industry is profitable for those in it and much to your surprise, you could be charged extra for something as simple as the type of chair you want your guests to sit in at the reception. If you plan to have a formal to-do for your once in a lifetime event, reduce the stress by paying down the existing debt first.

If you do decide to say “I do”, do you want your marriage to survive? If so, make a choice to be proactive about your debt and money situation with your soon-to-be spouse. By heading these issues off at the pass, you increase the chances that you and your partner will live a long, happy and financially secure future…together!

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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