There’s no denying that most of us are dealing with paying student debt. Many people graduating with student debt (and other debt) are also heading into marriage without having had a thorough discussion with their significant other about how they want to handle that debt. These are the important debt-related questions everyone should discuss with their significant other before getting married.
Individual Debt Questions: Sharing Your Debt Background/Habits
These individual questions are important to answer honestly when beginning a conversation about debt as a couple. If either partner in a relationship is withholding information about debt, it creates anxiety, stress, and certainly breaks down trust.
Take some time to answer all of these questions individually before bringing them to a discussion. It’s crucial to have a complete understanding of all the debt being brought into a marriage before beginning to create a plan to handle it together.
Answer these questions individually before sitting down for a student loans discussion:
- How much debt do you have?
- What types of debt do you have? (ex: student loans, credit card debt, car loan)
- What is/are your current interest rate(s) and payoff plan?
- Do you maintain a budget and keep records of debt payments?
- Do you have any specific financial goals in relation to paying off debt?
Couple Debt Discussion Questions: Understanding a Combined Budget
Once you have compiled all the details around individual debt amounts, you can start to have an open conversation about how debt will look in a combined budget as a married couple. Sharing a home, family, and future means combining loan payments and other expenses. Discuss these questions as a couple, and be patient as you consider how and why your financial habits may need to change after getting married.
Discuss these student loans questions as a couple:
- How important is it for us to be debt free?
- Does it make either of us uncomfortable to combine our debts and pay them as a team?
- How does combining our incomes and debts affect the payoff plan?
- Are there any large financial goals we share? (ex: buy a home, travel, children)
- How much of our income do we want to allocate towards becoming debt free?
Don’t Postpone Marriage Just Because of Loans
When discussing student loans and general debt with fellow millennials, I often hear that they want to feel financially secure and completely self-sufficient before getting married. Sounds smart, right?
As a person who got married while my (now) husband was still in college, I hadn’t begun to formulate a solid plan for handling my debt. I hadn’t even bought my own car or moved out of my parents’ house! We were young, but we got married anyway. What made the difference was that we were both open about our finances, determined to work together to get rid of debt, and aligned our financial goals and priorities before getting married.
Because of those factors, there were no big surprises after the wedding. We just picked up our notes from our conversations, built our monthly budget, and hit the ground running.
Deciding to wait to get married (to someone who shares your priorities and goals) because of student loans is a waste of an opportunity to grow together and make more progress on paying off debt than you can alone. Two incomes means more flexibility, and having a partner takes the edge off the emotional toll as well.
Of course, there’s something to be said for waiting if your intended partner doesn’t share your goals and priorities — but at that point I’d be questioning whether they were a good fit as a spouse, period! There’s a reason that finances are cited as one of the top reasons for divorce.
More Student Loans & Debt Pay-off Tips
Whether you’re in the middle of the battle against loans or you just need some inspiration to get started, check out the other blogs on the Finance category page. We’re definitely not perfect, but we will have managed to pay off over $30,000 of school debt in our first year of budgeting. Get on board and become debt free along with us!