Updated: Oct 23, 2019
"There is no easy solution when debt is part of a relationship"
By: Allan R Kirby
Unfortunately this is a very common scenario for many young people starting out today. High debt levels caused by getting an education. Now to be fair, not everyone comes away with school debt but it is still more likely that young adults will be starting out with some level of debt. The good news is that there are many opportunities available for graduates, especially in IT. In fact, many graduates could end up getting good high paying jobs, but there can be a downside and that is housing. It’s unfortunate but many large cities have become unaffordable and as a result can really bite into someone’s income. This means that many young people will be entering a relationship with high debt, low savings, and very little in retirement funds. This is not a good start.
Finding out that anyone you are with has a high level of debt can be devastating and negatively affect the relationship. Unfortunately, it’s not just high student debt, it could be credit card or other personal debt. This may have your partner questioning whether or not there are underlying issues with the person they are with. Money is a serious issue when it comes to relationships and studies have shown this. For example, the results from a Learvest survey found that:
“One in four Americans have broken up with their significant other due to money issues and a further 58% percent of American would prefer to be single than deal with money issues in a relationship”.
The fact is, money plays a significant part of a relationship and it is clear that for a relationship to move forward, however difficult, finances need to be discussed. As I have mentioned in previous articles, you need to address financial problems and not hide them, because money issues will not go away and you can never hide financial problems forever.
Should your partner help pay off your student loans
Unfortunately there is simply no simple answer to the question. It ultimately depends on the couple's ability to find a solution to the problem. The path to finding the solution basically starts with communicating and opening up on how to discuss the issues. Simply put, couples will never succeed in resolving financial issues unless they sit down and talk to each other. I do understand that it’s not a subject we like to discuss but It does need to be dealt with.
As difficult as it is to discuss the issues, finding a solution could be just as difficult. Tough decisions such as: postponing marriage, having children, buying a home, going on trips and planning for retirement, may need to be made. However, the point is that you need to start talking and finding a solution by working together and building a stronger relationship.
Seeking advice is important when looking at how to deal with paying off student loans or other personal debt. If both parties are looking for a workable solution but are having troubles finding what that solution should be, discussions with a professional to help could be the best route to take. Sometimes a money coach or financial advisor can:
1. Assess your current situation.
2. Develop a budget and repayment plan.
3. Help determine how the loans are paid back.
My only suggestion is to take your time with whom you talk to and the type of help you are seeking. It can be very difficult to open up to a professional in order to figure out your money problems, however having a someone who has a vested interest in seeing both of you succeed will help ensure success.
I have taken notice of some couples that have found innovative ways to ensure they start their relationship fresh. For example, I know two couples who married with a small ceremony and used the money they saved and received from guests and family to pay off their debts. For these couples, they felt it created a fresh start to the relationship and it was a gift that they really wanted. The decision to forgo the big wedding to pay off debt, instead of spending big was not an easy decision, and it’s not for everyone, but the point is to work together to find a solution that will work for both of you.
Work together to find a solution
The ultimate goal of course is to figure out how to approach the debt issues and find a resolution that will work best for both partners given the situation. The truth is that regardless of personal feelings on the issue, debt is still going to be part of the relationship if you chose to stay together. Additionally keep in mind that if the solution benefits one person over the other, this too will create issues later in the relationship. Many adults want to get into a relationship free of money issues, but statistically speaking, it’s very likely one or both persons in the relationship will be bringing some type of money issues. Discussing the issue and finding a solution will be the key to a successful relationship.