GUEST POST: How to Encourage Your Spouse to Dump Debt Faster

Elle Martinez

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Published on 01-03-2020

Categories: Articles

Are you ready to knock out your debt, but your spouse isn’t as excited? Here are three key ways you can get your spouse on board with dumping your debts faster!

Couple reviewing finances

How Paying Off Debts Can Help Your Marriage

According to Federal Reserve, the average family had over $130,000 in debt (including mortgage) and it has been growing. While debt is the norm for some families, it’s also a huge source of stress.

One study found that 41% of couples with consumer debt have money fights and say it’s the number one thing they argue over.

They also found that 1 in 3 spouses who argued about money also admitted to making purchases in secret.

Talk about sabotage - besides hit to the budget, financial infidelity can also hurt the trust in relationships.

The good news is while money can be a source of stress, it can also be a way for you two to connect and work as a team.

The tricky part, however, may be persuading your spouse to start paying off your unnecessary debts faster.

As part of my podcast, I’ve interviewed couples who have tackled massive amounts of debt - a few of them over $100,000!

Believe it or not, when we dug into their processes, I discovered that many of them didn’t start off on the same page.

Part of their journey was discovering a path to paying off debt that worked for them.

Three Biggest Reasons Why Your Spouse Isn’t on Board

If your spouse is hesitant or even pushing back on getting rid of debt, you may be understandably frustrated.

From our personal experience and working with others in our community, I saw that in most cases, it’s not that one spouse is trying to sabotage things. Their hesitation is most likely coming from a legitimate concern.

Since many of us haven’t been taught how to talk about finances in a relationship, it doesn’t always go smoothly. 

I want to go over the three most common reasons why  spouses aren’t on board with paying off debt faster, including some phrases you may hear from them.

I’ll also share solutions that have worked for others as they teamed up with dumping their debt. 

Can’t See The Why Behind Becoming Debt Free

We’ll always have debt.
We work hard, let’s enjoy it.
We can afford things just fine.

One of the best ways you can approach not just your debt, but finances is by identifying each of your priorities.

Why is getting rid of the debt so important to you? Would you like to have more freedom to switch jobs, perhaps one that’s more challenging and fulfilling, but you’re avoiding because of the debts you’re carrying?

Would you like to start a business, family, or both, but the drop in income would be too much of a financial hit?

When you discuss with each other the reason why paying off debt is important to you, it opens up the conversation where you’re focused on your mutual goals and priorities.

If you’re looking to get your spouse excited about this debt-free plan, then reframe it around what they value.

The Timetable is Too Intense

Let’s wait until the kids are older.
Let’s wait until we make more money.

Yes, paying off that debt is a smart money goal, but you have to consider how that will affect your day to day while you’re in the middle of the process.

When you have a significant amount of debt or your debt to income ratio is pretty high, there is definitely going to be some big changes.

Talk it over together why you feel like now is a good time and listen to why your spouse is hesitant.

Are they worried about missing out? Do they feel pressure to maintain a certain lifestyle? Do they even see debt as a real problem?

Some programs like Financial Peace University have a focused and intense schedule for tackling debt. It can certainly be helpful in speeding up the process, but you have to consider your main goal?

What’s more important to you - becoming debt-free or becoming debt-free together? 

See if you can adjust the plan so both of you can start the process. After some time and seeing wins, your partner may be ready to increase those extra payments.

Unsure About It Actually Working

Another budget?!
I don’t want to be couponing every time we grocery shop.

Budgets are objective on paper, but for many, there’s a negative response to hearing about them. That may be the case in your marriage.

Is your spouse uncomfortable with the budget you’re proposing? Have they had a restrictive budget before? Have they seen a working budget growing up?

When you’re creating a budget, encourage them to give their input. What expenses are must-haves for them? Why? What expenses are they willing to cut back on?

Finding what you can agree on can make it easier for them to do a ‘test run’ with the new budget. Let them know you’re willing to adjust based on their feedback.

You can also make it a bit more fun by doing a monthly money challenge together.

3 Powerful Ways to Win with Money Together

When interviewing financial experts and couples, they suggested three key ways where you can make it easier to become a team with finances.

Lead by example. Take control and show how paying off debt frees up more options in your own routine. Find free and frugal things to do as a family. Celebrate the wins together.

This was helpful for Toni and her husband Calvin. She was able to help her husband see that paying off debt was doable even while raising their young kids. They were able to work together and pay off over $109,000 of debt!

Automate your money. ‘More Willpower’ is not a solution for most couples. Having an automated system frees up time and energy to focus on the big wins

Once you agree to a plan (even a test run), go ahead and set up your bill pay so you’re taking care of your goals.

Go on money dates. These dates are about making sure your money is going towards what’s important to the two of you.

I go into the step by step process (including several ice breakers and conversation starters) in my book Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money, but the key here is that you check in with one another regularly in a relaxed setting to review your finances around your goals rather than just the numbers.

Thoughts on Tackling Debt Together

Whether you’re tackling a small debt or over six figures, I hope these tips help you two to get on the same page and start your debt-free journey.

For those who are in the middle of their journey or have paid off your debts, what were some of the biggest helps for you? 

Elle Martinez is the creator of Couple Money, a personal finance podcast and site focused on helping couples get on the same page, dump their debt faster, start building wealth together 




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