Approaching the subject of money with your partner can be challenging at the best of times, but particularly when one of you is carrying a hefty credit card debt — or any type of debt, for that matter.
More than 1.9 million Australians are struggling with credit card debt, and as a nation, we owe more than $45 billion on credit cards. This suggests more and more of us are borrowing money and with high-interest rates without plans in place to pay them back.
All of this is to say that debt is extremely common, and owing on credit cards is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something you may consider talking about with your partner once you have decided to explore the future together.
When entering the debt conversation with your partner, it’s important to be honest and make sure you each know where you both stand financially.
This way, you will continue your relationship from a place of honesty, and hopefully, with a plan of action to get your finances under control.
Remember: Your finances are personal and you have the right to disclose this information when you feel comfortable. You don’t need to roll out your full financial history on the first date but it can be helpful to share finance goals as things progress.
How to approach debt with your partner
A great way to start the conversation is by sharing your dreams and financial goals. Talk about what would you like to achieve in the next couple of years, what things are on your bucket list that you would like to tackle, and timeframe you have for all of these.
Another way to open the conversation is with your habits. As questions like: “What do you think are good money practices?” and “What did you learn from your parents about money?”.
Questions like the above will ideally open up a conversation that flows freely. Not all conversations about money have to be about how much you have or how much you don’t.
If you do have some serious debt that would like to bring up and are a bit anxious about it, we share some tips that Best Financial Friend’s founder Pete Lord swears by.
Prepare: Write everything down, particularly if the idea of telling your partner makes you
nervous or anxious. You’ll want to be ready to answer questions about how you accrued your debt.
Plan: Find a time where you have no plans for the rest of the day or have no need to rush off. This is important to allow enough room to discuss in real detail, without any interruptions.
Calm: Talk to your partner in a calm way. Practice a few times and ensure you
have answers to any questions they may have.
Honesty: State the facts and reveal as much as your comfortable with. Complete honesty is very important during this conversation.
Bring your statements: Offer to show your partner evidence of your debts and also what you are doing to bring yourself into the positive again.
The best thing would be to tell your partner what the conversation will be about so that they can also bring along any information they would like to disclose. Approach this like you would approach a business meeting in an appropriate space and time; talking money with your partner shows you respect the relationship and your commitment to it so don’t be afraid to bring ‘bad news’ to the table… remember, you are a team.
“Do you have any debts I should know about?”
If either of you happens to have any debt, it might be worth asking these questions:
– How did you get this debt in the first place?
– How much debt remains outstanding?
– Are you being chased by creditors and is legal action is being taken against you?
– Do you have a plan to tackle this debt?
– Has this impacted your credit score?
If you come into the conversation with all of this information, including documents or letters you might have received, it will be much easier to understand where you stand and come up with a plan to tackle the debt together, or maybe just understand the situation.
Your debt is your responsibility, but sharing this information with your partner doesn’t mean they can’t help you. You could even ask them what they would do in your situation, they may be able to offer a new approach that you hadn’t thought of before.
Want to find out the best ways to get out of debt? Speak with your new BFF at Best Financial Friend today.