Marrying into Student Loan Debt


How the Student Loan Crisis is Affecting Families

When I graduated with my Master’s Degree, I was so excited to have no debt. That’s right, none. I was one of the lucky few who had earned a full scholarship for both my undergraduate and graduate studies. I met my husband in college. I knew he was a hard worker and money conscious. However, he still had loans – especially after his professional degree (with a 6.8% government interest rate). College can be expensive. You may still accumulate debt even when you go to State Colleges, work while in school, and try to live a simple life style.

This creates a problems for families today. People with debt may delay marriage, but what happens when they do marry? Financial arguments can hurt marriages, so how do you avoid them or communicate in a way that does not cause big blow-ups?

Communicate Before Hand

Discuss the amount of debt your partner has and the life style choices that are needed to live a financially healthy life style. Having a very small wedding, delaying buying a home, postponing having children and maybe even limiting the number of children you have – those are all issues that need to be addressed before marriage based on your current financial outlook. Those conversations should occur before any marriage, but it is extremely important to understand how student loans will really have an impact on your family’s future in all aspects.

Be Honest With Yourself

Your partner may have no problem with not buying a home or only having one child because of the cost; yet that may not be something that you want. Being on the same page is important or else there will be arguments and blaming when we feel unhappy. You need to have a deep self-reflection and decide if these lifestyle choices are something you can truly be happy with.

Budget

You were once the only one in charge of your budget. Now there are two individuals, and one with debt! Make decisions as to how to address the debt. Is your partner the sole person responsible for the loan, or do you both contribute? If only your partner pays on the loan, discuss what budget is necessary for you both to meet your monthly living expenses. You need to discuss what are important items to each of you that need to be included in the budget and make compromises. For example, I have no problem buying generic brand items, yet my husband has a few certain items that enjoys that are name brand. At first I was upset because the items cost more, but after communicating with him we reached an agreement that we would factor certain items into our budget because it was important to him. What you do not want to do is tell your partner that they ‘cannot do this’ or ‘have to do that’. You need to communicate and allow each person to still include items in the budget that make them happy.

Money, especially in this economy, is a major cause of stress. It can be even more stressful when you marry into student loan debt. I honestly believe that it is easier to conquer debt by working together as a couple than doing it alone. Yet, it is only easy if you communicate with your partner and are honest with yourself about what is really important to you in regards to your future.