I have been following the questions posed by Chase Bank back in February about average couples. It is pretty much about love and money. I answered the questions in my head, but not on here because I found one question that I wanted to dig into deeper. If you are interested in learning some other personal finance blogger’s answers, then check out Girl Meets Debt, The Frugal Path, The First Million is the Hardest, Money Life and More, Money Beagle, and Reach Financial Independence. Now that you have gotten a feel for what others think, I want to break down one of the questions. Here it is.
Would you offer to pay off your spouse’s debt?
I have been having an internal debate about this question. There are some people on the side of a simple yes. They would pay off their spouse’s debt if they had it. They feel that their money is together. Some feel it is part of being married.
I, on the other hand, don’t know what I would do, but I lean very much toward no. I think this question is conditional. Let me explain my reasons below. If you didn’t know, I am married, so don’t even try to go there if you disagree with me. I also talked about this with my wife, so I am not just spouting off without talking to my wife. That would be crazy! 😉
When I would offer
After thinking about this for some time, I think I would pay off my wife’s debt if she had lost her job. If she doesn’t have a job, then I wouldn’t allow her credit to be destroyed over a few minimum payments. On this subject, I would expect my wife to go find a job, no matter what it was, in order to help with the debt. I don’t feel that I would take it over completely for a long period of time.
I would also pay off debt that was medical related. It is hard to deal with any medical expenses, because they can be so high. Usually, these expenses are incurred in dire situations and are hard to deal with. I am not a complete ass, so I would offer to help here.
Disclaimer: Any debt that we incur together would be paid off together.
When I wouldn’t offer
Since I am really on this side of the fence, I would not offer to pay off debt most of the times. If you have credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, student loans, or anything else, I wouldn’t offer to help. The reason why I say this is because you aren’t teaching any lesson when you offer to pay down debt. Yes, we are talking about love and relationships, but there still need to be lessons.
If you got into a ton of debt and weren’t paying but the minimum, would you learn a lesson if your spouse came in and helped you pay it? I think NO! If you incur debt before you meet your spouse, then it still needs to be responsibility. If you are reckless with your money before getting into a relationship, then you should never expect your partner to come in and help. That is just delusional thinking.
I know there are many out there that think when you get married, your money should be together. I am not one of those and neither is my wife. We have multiple bank accounts and only have one joint checking and one savings account. This is how we work and it works awesome for us. We set it up this way because you never know what the future might hold. I don’t want to think of divorce, but if it did happen, we both have a higher likely-hood of keeping our personal money than you do if you pool your money. The other reason why we do it this way is for security. We have different accounts which make it harder to take everything we have. I even have accounts in different banks.
My Internal Debate
You can see that I have been having an internal debate about this issue. There will be some that think I am crazy, but that is perfectly fine. Sometimes I wonder if I am just thinking crazy, but then I realize my wife is on the same page, and that really all that matters. I am here at Wealth Bytes to teach lessons. When we get into debt, we need to learn how to get out of it. You should never expect your spouse to come in and save you. That should be the last though in your mind. If you got into the debt, you need to get out. No one should get a free pass in life and if you are expecting others to pay your debt, then you need a reality check.
So, that is how I feel about the question and I want to know what you think. Am I a bad person? Would I be a horrible spouse (FYI, I treat my wife very well)? Would you take over your spouse’s debt?
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