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How can I help my wife with debt?

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    How can I help my wife with debt?

    In our household, my wife and I both work, though I pay all the bills. We were married last October and did not talk much about money but I knew she had some debt. Her family is bad when it comes to debt and they trained her that way. She is learning to be better with money but her debt is still equal to about one year of her salary. I make much more than she does and can pay off her debt but she resists. To her there is some pride in the way and she also feels bad for bringing debt into the relationship but I told her I don't mind. If she addresses this issue it will take many years for the debts to be paid. She thinks this is her debt and her fault and her problem so she wants to correct this problem.
    How can I talk with her as a wife (not like she's a child) and let her know I accept these debts. That I understand she was raised this way and am glad she changed. But also help her to understand the best plan for our family is to have these debts all paid tomorrow and not to let them continue for many years. Please I hope someone can help me find the words.

    #2
    The first thing that comes to mind is redirection. You might suggest that she let you pay off the debt so that you don't have that hanging over your head, but that in the next few years you (as a couple) are going to need something (could be down payment on house, car, EF, etc.) so she can use the energy she has for proving she can pay the debt off and use it towards proving that she's a capable saver. Bonus is that as a couple you will be better off with a pile of money for your financial needs.

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      #3
      I think you need to do like Dave Ramsey says. Sit her down pick up both of her hands and look her in the eyes and tell her that when you got married you became one and her debts became yours. Let her know you understand that it's a pride thing and she wants to pay for her own mistakes but your married and you're in this together and she's not alone anymore. Let her know that getting rid of this debt is getting rid of the past and now you can move forward in your future together.

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        #4
        I admire your wife for wanting to clear the debt she brought into the marriage. How is she currently allocating her earnings? Has she created a list of accounts showing interest rate, balance outstanding from lowest sum to highest? It might help her to understand the cost avoidance in interest if you used one of the popular debt calculators.
        http://www.youcandealwithit.com/borr...lculator.shtml

        Would DW be amenable to using all her earnings less a personal 'allowance' for small items to pay down debt? Would she be willing to take bring lunch from home and pass on Starbucks treats to free up more $$$ to debt? What is DW's FICO score? Would it be practical to transfer high interest CC balances to a 0% card? She could base her allocation on the new card sum needed to clear in the time frame offered. The remaining debt would continue receiving at least their minimum payment. Would she agree to letting you help her set up the most efficient 'snowball' system to pay down her debt? Another option might be a Personal Line of Credit [loan] if the interest rate was really low. You'd need to run the numbers to see if it's worthwhile.

        You've not mentioned either the total sum owed and DW's net earnings. I think the practicality of making payments for a year would be a helpful discipline so she doesn't let poor money management take over in the future. Many of us have a set sum for food including restaurant/take out for the month. It's a sum that can be stretched or contracted depending on effort. DW's willingness to meal plan, buy loss leaders, plan how to use left overs, have friends in rather than meet at a restaurant can free up $$$ for debt payments. There are lots of ways to create 'snowflakes' small sums to throw at debt.

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          #5
          Have you and DW decided if you will have joint or separate finances? It seems like that is the first decision to be made.

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            #6
            Tell her she can owe YOU the money. Seriously. Write out a loan contract, charge her interest -- the whole ball of wax. Explain how this way the debt is an internal liability within the family, rather than a public liability that could affect your credit scores and ability to do better on mortgage rates, etc. Explain how you would both sleep better knowing that money is not owed to "the man".

            What do you think?
            Retired To Win
            I blog weekly on frugal living, personal finance & earlier retirement at:
            retiredtowin.com
            making the most of my time and my money

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              #7
              I don't think a situation where "she owes you" is a good dynamic for a marriage.

              Just tell her that you would love to do this for her, because you are a family, and things should be looked at from the perspective of what benefits the family overall and in the long term.
              And that if she could do one thing in return - never carry debt again, that would be the best way for her to show her appreciation and would make you very happy, and you can work on your family's financial future as a team.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Nika View Post
                I don't think a situation where "she owes you" is a good dynamic for a marriage.

                Just tell her that you would love to do this for her, because you are a family, and things should be looked at from the perspective of what benefits the family overall and in the long term.
                And that if she could do one thing in return - never carry debt again, that would be the best way for her to show her appreciation and would make you very happy, and you can work on your family's financial future as a team.
                Excellent advice, I totally support it as the best one.

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                  #9
                  I really love the advice of just breaking it down in a fair, unemotional way. Just maintaining a debt because you would bad otherwise makes no sense. She is lucky to have someone like yourself who is actively taking steps to ensure that she gets free of this now and she can address other financial issues later.

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