Many individuals reach a point in their lives when they cohabitate. You might marry someone, or perhaps you’re living together and you’re fully committed to each other. If you both decide that’s what you want, you will likely elect to share everything, including financial responsibilities. If your partner is significantly in debt, though, you might not know how to handle it.
You need to manage your finances, regardless of what debts your partner or spouse brings to the relationship. Here, we’ll cover some ideas regarding how to do so.
Work Together to Pay Off Their Debts
When most people commit to one another, they agree to take on all aspects of the other person’s life, including their finances. That might mean when you marry or cohabitate, you’ll start to regard the other person’s debts like they’re your own.
With that in mind, you might work with your partner to pay off their debts. If you’re both employed and you’re debt-free, you can dedicate a portion of both of your incomes toward paying their creditors. You might suggest something like a snowball debt plan. This is a method where you pay off any of their smaller debts first before moving on to the larger ones.
Whichever method you use, the point is that if you’re debt-free, or you owe very little money next to what your partner does, you’ll pay off all their debt faster if you both whittle away at it. Doing so will show your partner that you care about them, and they will surely appreciate it.
Keep Separate Finances, But Leave Communication Channels Open
There are other ways to handle your finances when your partner is in debt. For instance, you may choose to let them keep paying off their debt by themselves while you keep your finances entirely separate from theirs.
The time you’re most likely to do this is if your partner or spouse is proud, and they don’t want to accept what they consider to be charity from you. If your partner feels strongly about this, it’s often best to follow their lead. That way, your suggestion to pay their debts won’t hurt their feelings and cause a rift between you.
If this happens, you might leave the option open that your partner or spouse can always ask you for help paying their bills. You can assure them that if you have the money to help, it would be your pleasure to do so. This way, you’re showing them you care, but you’re not pressuring them to compromise their principles.
Suggest Paying for Current Bills While Your Partner Works on Their Debt
One more option might be for you to pay for any bills when you’re cohabitating while your partner works exclusively to pay off their debt. That could mean you cover the rent or mortgage payments each month. You’ll pay for groceries, water, gas, and so forth. Meanwhile, they will take the money they earn and put it exclusively toward paying off their creditors.
This system might work because you’ll both feel productive. You’re paying these new bills as they arrive and keeping the household up to date. Meanwhile, your partner is working diligently to reduce their debt.
It’s Best to Leave Room for Negotiation and Improvement
As an individual, you need to keep your finances under control, but as part of a couple, you want to help the other person if they will let you. That might not look the same for any two couples. What works for one may not be the best plan for the other.
If your partner has a lot more debt than you, try to talk to them rationally about what the best solution is for both of you. Try to consider their feelings and emphasize that you’re eager to help them in whatever way makes them feel the most comfortable.