Couples Debt: Is it a Deal Breaker?

Couple in LoveGood morning Enemy of Debt readers.  My name is Kristina and I am the blogger over at Dinks Finance.  Today the EOD team was gracious enough to let me chat with you about debt, commitment and marriage. I am thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to spending the morning with you.

Dinks Finance is a blog for couples about couples regarding everything related to money.  I have been with my boyfriend for almost 14 years, we started dating as a two broke teenagers in college – now at 32 and 33 years old we are both successful professionals. Our money management style is laid back, we spend when we need to, we enjoy our annual vacations and we enjoy our time together. However, it hasn’t always been like that.

Becoming debt free is the best investment we can make

We grew up together and we also learned about money together, so our styles just sort of merged. But that’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of money problems in the past.  After college we were both lucky enough to land full time jobs; not too long after we both started receiving pre approved credit card applications in the mail and of course we accepted each and every one.

Credit cards made us feel like adults so we accepted them, one after another.  Not too long after that we found ourselves almost $50,000 in debt – to say that thousands of dollars of debt put a strain on our relationship would be the understatement of the year.

My boyfriend and I worked through the stress and paid off our debt over the next few years and thank goodness we lived to tell the story – but if we are being totally honest about the situation I think that our relationship could have gone either way. I never want to go back to living paycheck to paycheck and I don’t ever want to go back to spending more money on my credit card bills than I spend on rent.  I learned from my mistakes and I am glad that I had my boyfriend by my side through those stressful years.

Would you say I do if your spouse had debt?

I am thankful that my boyfriend’s love was stronger than the stress that the financial burden put on our relationship. However, if we weren’t together for 14 years, if we just met I don’t think that I could get into a relationship with someone who was in debt.

I know that may sound shallow – especially because we just met – but it’s the truth. I know how stressful being in debt can be and how it can really take over your life. As a Financial Planner I love helping people become debt free, but I don’t ever want to be in debt again. I didn’t like paying off my own debt and I definitely wouldn’t marry someone and help pay off their debt.

I take precautions to ensure that I don’t ever get into too much debt ever again.  I save a portion of each paycheck, I save for retirement and I make sure to enjoy some of my money so that I don’t feel restrained. That is the key to financial freedom – balancing what we have to do for our futures with what we want to do in the present.

Is debt a deal breaker in your relationship?

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Guest post by Tahnya Kristina – a certified financial planner and personal finance writer.  She enjoys helping people pay off debt, budget and achieve their personal goals. You can follow her on Twitter at @TahnyaKristina.

Photo credit: pedrosimoes7

9 Responses to “Couples Debt: Is it a Deal Breaker?”

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  1. Jennifer says:

    We both came into marriage with debt, he had a car (reasonable one for his income with 0% interest but not paid off) and some grad school debt. I had a lot of grad school debt. But we agreed to work together and he was always patient and would remind me it was our debt now, not just mine and his anymore. From day one in our marriage we worked to budget, save extra, pay extra on it and now we’re about 40 days away from paying off the last of about $70,000 total we had in debt less than two years after marriage.
    We have learned great communication and financial skills together. It helps us make goals as a team and each find different ways to contribute in earnings, being frugal, being educated. I think the debt and what we learned from it as a team was a blessing, not a curse. But I am awfully glad to se it go!

  2. Debt is not a deal breaker, or at least it shouldn’t be. My husband and I both married with debt we incurred before even knowing the other existed. We entered our marriage with an agreement that our debts would remain separate. My husband has paid off his debt but we have an understanding that his hard-earned money will not be put towards my student loan debt.

    • Kasey – I honestly believe that talking about money makes the relationship better, not worse. It’s great that you guys have an understanding. I know someone who paid off his girlfriends student loan debt and now they aren’t even together.

  3. Debt wasn’t a deal breaker for us because of the type of debt. My wife has a ton of student loan debt that we are working through. If it was credit card debt I probably wouldn’t have stuck around though.

    • Lance, that’s an interesting way to look at it. I always say that if you are going to get into debt it should be for a good reason and for a reason that makes you better…student debt definitely qualifies.

  4. We both came into the relationship with a ton of law school debt, so I definitely wouldn’t say it was a deal breaker.

    However, it is not unreasonable to have this as a concern. Money is one of the number 1 causes for tension in a relationship.

  5. Michael, money can definitely be stressful. It caused tension in our relationship for a few years but I’m glad we worked through our money issues. Although come September paying $80 per month for the NFL Network package will also be a sore money subject in our relationship – as it has been for many years. LOL! Thanks for reading.

  6. Katy says:

    Debt wasn’t a deal breaker for my guy and me. We both have made a plan to attack it and learn from it together. We both were previously married, so we’re working together to support each other in cleaning up all of that so we can start fresh together.

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