Today we have a lovely guest post from Ali Lawrence. Take it away Ali!
When my husband asked me to marry him, I was ecstatic! He was, and is, one of the funniest guys I know. His ability to make me laugh was one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place.
What wasn’t funny, though, was the amount of debt from school loans he was carrying around after college. And it wasn’t until we were married that I learned just how extensive that debt was.
I, on the other hand, had been incredibly lucky with school loans. Due to scholarships, grants, and my parents’ savings, I walked away from college without owing a dime. Though this was not exactly a “normal” occurrence for most students, I expected my husband’s debt to be a little closer to the national average, which is around $33,000.
But that wasn’t the case. Two years in community college and four at a university will do that, I guess.
Of course, I would have married him anyway, but to say that we haven’t had our share of challenges because of the debt would be not entirely true.
Here are six ways that we worked together to deal with the debt that I married into:
The One with the Debt Writes the Check
Paying this particular bill was rather painful for me, though I handled most of our finances. To ease my mind, I asked that he take care of this one. I think it helped him realize just how important it was to work hard at his job to make his expensive education worth it.
Accept It and Pay It Off Quickly
You know the saying, “what’s mine is yours?” Well, when you get married, that is really true. His debt became my debt, and rather than harping him about it, which I did for the first few months of our marriage, I learned that it was better for our relationship to accept it and move on.
Listen to the Experts
My husband and I watched Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This program helped us get on track financially. I highly recommend it to anyone in a similar circumstance. Through the class, we were able to properly set a budget that we could stick to, put money in savings, and create a timeline for getting out of debt.
Plan a “Debt-Free” Reward
It takes a lot of diligence and hard work to get financially fit, and the process can leave you drained. To help ease the process, we decided to plan a celebratory trip for when we were debt-free. This gave us something to look forward to and provided extra motivation to keep our finances in order so we could pay off our debt as quick as possible.
Look for Ways to Pay It Off Faster
Some careers, like certain ones in the military, government, or healthcare fields, provide financial assistance after you graduate to help pay off your debt. My sister-in-law became an RN, and the hospital she worked for agreed to pay off her debt when she signed a five-year contract. If you can take advantage of a program like this, do it!
Use This Experience to Plan for Your Future Family
My husband’s family didn’t really know much about scholarships and grants, or any of the other ways that you can pay for college without going into debt. We decided to use my husband’s student loan experience as a tool for planning for our own kids’ future tuition. Thinking about it and planning for it now will save them (and you) hardship in the future.
Though coming to terms with my husband’s debt was difficult, I really believe that it only strengthened our relationship. We learned, together, what it meant to build a budget and be disciplined enough to stick to it.
Marrying into debt doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With patience and perseverance, you and your spouse will navigate through it all and come out debt-free.
Ali Lawrence is a tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog, Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. You can also follow her on Twitter.