Today we welcome back Catherine Alford, our regular Tuesday contributor.
Asking someone if they’d pay off their spouse’s student loans is kind of like asking someone who should pay for the first date. There are bound to be a ton of different responses and feelings on the subject so let’s chat about them.
Marriage Means We’re In This Together
First of all, I have always felt like when I got married, my money became our money, and my debt became our debt. The same goes for my husband. Although it took a little while to get used to having a joint account – first year of marriage growing pains! – we’ve really established a good system of trust over the past few years when it comes to our joint finances.
Now that my husband is in medical school, there is no question that we’re both going to work extremely hard to get rid of those six figure loans when he is done. After all, if I don’t help him and if I’m not supportive of his payoff process, it will hurt me in the long run. It’s definitely in my best interest and in the best interest of our future kids to get rid of all of our student loan debt as quickly as possible. So to me, this is a joint venture, something that we’re in together.
Similarly, I know that Lance saved up tens of thousands of dollars to pay off Tori’s student loans when they got married. As many of you know, he’s utilized that money for a few different things, but in the end, he’s going to help her knock out the debt once and for all.
Of course, all of this might be a completely different story if we were chatting about a different kind of loan…
What About Bad Debt?
What if you spouse has to pay back a loan from gambling too much in college? What if they owe a loan on a failed business? What if they owe money to family members for various reasons?
In those cases, I could see how some spouses would make the argument that the spouse with the loan is responsible for their payoff. Sometimes, we make poor choices and they follow us into our married years, and perhaps it’s best if one spouse takes responsibility for those types of mistakes.
Still, I have to say, even when my husband and I got married with credit card debt, we worked together to pay it off. Even if we didn’t approve of the way we each got into credit card debt, we still joined our finances and tried to find a way to pay it all off once and for all.
To me, that’s what marriage is – working together towards a common goal. However, we got married really young, and I realize that people who get married later in life might have a different view of joint finances and debt payoff since they are much further along in their careers.
So, we want to hear from you. Did you help pay off your spouse’s debt? Or, if you’re not married yet, would you help a potential spouse pay off their debt?