Managing Student Loan Debt in a Marriage
Recent studies show that young adults are postponing marriage to pay off student loans. Eliminating debt before marriage can significantly reduce household stress levels, but the fact is that many couples do not have that option. Their student loans are too high or their incomes are too low to pay off the debt in a short timeframe. If you and your spouse are trying to manage student loan debt in marriage, the following tips will help you stay on track.
Find a Repayment Plan that Suits Your Entire Household
If you have been paying off your student loans for a while, you may already have a repayment plan to suit your single lifestyle. That plan may not be ideal in your married life. For some couples, being married frees up extra money, allowing them to pay down their debts even faster. For other couples, being married increases their household bills and hinders their ability to pay off debt.
Assess your situation and determine if your repayment plan suits your household, not just you. If you can pay off your student loans faster, go for it! Otherwise, talk to your loan servicer about payment options that fit your available income.
Discuss How You Will Split Your Bills
It’s important to discuss how your student loans will be repaid. Will you each pay your own loans, or will you work together to pay off one person’s loans first? If only one of you has student loans, you must discuss whether the other person feels comfortable contributing toward the student loan debt. This is a touchy subject, but it is one you must address as a couple. You may work with a financial planner or a marriage counselor to discuss your options in a calm, respectful manner.
Keep Other Debts to a Minimum
Debt is an active and a passive stressor. It is something that weighs on your mind all day long, and it may spark intense anxiety when you actively think about it. This type of stress can be particularly damaging for couples because it is always around. You may be more irritable or more likely to lash out at your spouse because of the stress.
What’s the solution? Keep your debt to a minimum. If you are trying to pay off your student loans quickly, you may hold off on getting a new car or buying a house. If you cannot wait on a big purchase like that, try to keep the costs as low as possible. Instead of buying your dream home, get an affordable starter home that frees up more income for loan repayment. Once your student loans are clear, then you can put your money toward other investments.
Pay More Than the Monthly Minimums
Your minimum student loan payments may only cover your interest and a small portion of the principal. This means that you’ll be paying on your loans much longer than necessary. Even if you just put $50 extra toward your loan a month, that’s $600 extra a year! It will make a big difference in the amount of time your student loans affect your marriage.
Communicate with Your Spouse in a Healthy Way
One of the biggest goals in all marriage counseling programs is to teach couples how to communicate with one another. This keeps stress and tension down, and it reduces the chance of conflicts in the marriage. If a conflict arises, the couple has the tools to get through it together.
If you are interested in premarital counseling or marriage counseling in Wisconsin, contact Midwest Psychological Services at (715) 381-1980. You can learn how to speak honestly with your spouse, and you can gain insight into your spouse’s thoughts and feelings. Our marriage counselors will be there to guide you every step of the way.