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Love and Money: Dealing with Debt as a Couple

Everyone deals with money and debt differently. There are planners and procrastinators, those who tackle it head-on and those who avoid dealing with it at all costs. When opposites come together in a romantic relationship it can trigger stress, anxiety, and dissension for the couple.

Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none.

Realizing your relationship is the priority is a good starting point. Honesty, planning, and good communication also go a long way in alleviating some of the worry. Remember to play fair and don’t let the debt come between you.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Lay it all out there

The money talk can be intimidating, but having a clear vision of where you are and where you want to be is important and inspiring. Make time to sit down and discuss income, outstanding loans, paying down debt, setting aside savings, and where you stand with your credit reports.

Set some boundaries

Decide together what your weekly, monthly, and annual spending should be. If your spending habits are vastly different, it may be a good idea to set up separate goals and separate bank accounts. But, have united goals when it comes to spending decisions or debt decisions that affect both of you.

 Lighten the load

If you have individual and joint debt, build a debt payoff plan into your overall goals. A heavy debt load affects your ability to move forward with other big life purchases such as a mortgage. Look at your debt as a whole and get strategic. Sometimes, a bankruptcy can be the best idea because it will eliminate most debts and give you a fresh start. Other ideas like settling a credit card or loan for less, refinancing a mortgage, dealing with a past debt judgment or debt collection lawsuit, or consolidating credit card debt can also make a huge difference in lessening the burden overall.

Know your rights

You are generally not responsible for debts your spouse incurred before marriage or debt your significant other incurred if you are not married. But, if you co-sign for any loans, married or not, you are fully liable for the debt. If either of you has debt in collections, and you are being harassed by debt collectors or creditors, you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and may have claims against the debt collectors which can sometimes result in eliminating the debt or settling it for significantly less. Remember, debt collectors have to play by the rules and are prohibited from engaging in conduct that is misleading, unfair, or disrespectful.

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Culik Law is a Massachusetts Law Firm. The posts on Culik Law’s blog are not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, CONTACT CULIK LAW for a Free Consultation.

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