Talking About Debt

Adv Kate Thambiran @ Lucid Living

There is nothing romantic about debt, so many of us may decide not to tell our new spouse about our outstanding bills. For other people, the fear is the reaction of their husband or wife if they find out that you’ve gone into debt using the family savings. But before you decide to keep your debts a dirty secret, you should remember that failure to be honest about finance is one of the major causes of fighting and divorce.

If you’re already in this position, you need to make a resolution to be honest with your spouse today.  Remember that talking about problems can solve them – maybe your spouse has savings that you don’t know about, or just some good suggestions. At the very least, the weight of worry off your shoulders will free your mind up to make some plans of your own.

Here are some ideas:

• Before you start talking, tell your spouse that what you are about to say is frightening for you because you are scared of losing the marriage.
• Ask your spouse not to interrupt until you are finished speaking.
• Expect your spouse to be angry, and don’t make excuses. The anger will pass.
• Tell your spouse what ideas you have had to fix the problem.
• Tell your spouse that the two of you need to communicate from now on to solve the debt and prevent it happening again.

For those people starting out on a life together, there are ways that you can avoid secrets and fights about finances:

• Reveal all your financial secrets up front – the good and the bad.
Talk honestly about how you want to protect your money once you are married.
• Open a joint account for household expenses, like the rent and rates and domestic help. Each party should contribute on proportion to their salary.
• Keep your own account for individual expenses, and agree to what extent you expect to know about the status of your partner’s personal account.
• Talk about your financial priorities as a couple – are you saving for a new house or an overseas holiday.
• Schedule regular financial meetings. In many ways a marriage is like a business partnership and should be treated with the same organisation and respect.
• Share with your partner the moment you start feeling any financial resentment – before it becomes a problem.
• Make major purchases a joint decision – even if only one of you will pay. A car is a good example here.
• Talk, talk and more talk.

If you have more debt than you can manage a debt counsellor can help you  – click here to enquire