Getting Out of Debt Together
One underlying tension in many marriages is the weight of a debt. It is estimated that a very high percentage of divorces are based on some sort of financial issues between the couple, debt being a high on this list. If you see that you have fallen behind on your bookkeeping, it’s time to face the situation head-on… together.
First, work yourselves out a budget for your day-to-day expenses. Pretend for just a few, glorious hours, that you have no debt at all, but that you have a very tight income. Make sure you include all fixed expenses, such as mortgage/rent payments, insurance, car payments, utilities, tuition, memberships, etc.. Your next section should be for more fluid expenses, such as food, entertainment and vacations. Finally, take any occasional expenses, such as holiday costs, and divide them into twelve, so that you don’t get socked with “unexpected” expenses, come November-December. See where your income versus expenses balance falls.
Now comes the team work. Together, see how low you can realistically bring these expenses down. Each of you should be keeping a to-do list. Remember, being realistic here is key, otherwise it just won’t work. In so far as the fixed expenses are concerned, what about refinancing your mortgage? Could you keep some appliances unplugged or use others sparingly to bring down your utility costs? Could your communications costs be lowered by checking for cheaper packages that would work better for you? Consider each line on your expense list and try to come up with ways to cut it down.
Depending on the depth of your debt, you could be in this for the very long term. Keep that in mind when seeing where you can reduce your expenditures, in that some items can’t be realistically mega-reduced long term. For example, don’t expect to be able to cut your grocery bill by eighty percent for more than a very short period of time.
Use this money you have saved to pay off your debts. Prioritize where the money is owed and plot your success on a mutually-accessible graph.
Formally plan time weekly, twice a month or monthly to assess how your plan is going, re-work the glitches and plot your success on your graph.
You’re doing it together! Keep coming up with ways to outsmart yourselves and get the job done. You’ll feel great and reaching this success together will exhilarate your relationship.
And just think, once your debts are paid off, you can plan what to do with the money that you had been using every month to pay it off.