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Dealing with double debt

marriage debt
marriage debt

Every person is different and has been living in a different situation. Maybe you went away to college or university and then moved back home. Maybe you moved out and got a job and never went to school. Maybe you never left home. Or maybe you went away for college or university, met the love of your life, got your own place and started a life together. Whichever situation you may be in, debt seems to follow you no matter where you go. Student loans, personal loans, credit cards, bills, car payments, mortgage, the list could go on forever.

When you get married, your partners debts become your debts as well, and if you both had debt before marriage, be prepared for a long road of debt recovery. Double the debt can be scary. Just looking at those numbers can be enough to want to declare bankruptcy and be done with it all. But before you panic, realize that you have options. These options can make dealing with your financial situation much easier than trying to do it all yourself.

First of all, make sure you sit down with your statements and a good cup of coffee and go over everything with your partner. This means no secret credit card stash, no hidden personal loans. Lay it all out on the table (literally) and figure out exactly how much you owe.

The next step is to look at your income. How much do you make per month/per year? How much does your partner make? Are you receiving any additional income from the government, specialized programs or side jobs? Add it all up, every penny counts.

Now you need to look at your expenses. The easiest way to do this is by month. Here are some important things you need to think about...

How much do you spend on: groceries per week, laundry per week, transportation per month, essentials per week (toiletries,cleaning and household products,etc), eating out per month, cable/internet/phones per month, hydro/heating/water per month, and of course, rent or mortgage payments per month, etc. Always make sure you add in an average of $25 extra per week for fun, nights out, special occasions, and coffee. Now add in an extra $200 per month for an emergency fund. If yourself, your partner or a pet gets ill, if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and need a taxi home, if the car breaks down, if the pipes burst, absolutely anything could go wrong and you need to be prepared.

Here is where it gets scary. More than half the time, our expenses outweigh our income. This is a huge issue and the main reason for most people accumulating so much debt in the first place. If we owe more than we make, how are we supposed to start making a dent in our debt repayment?

Simple changes in your life can make a huge difference in your wallet. For example, shopping for toiletries, snacks and cleaning products at the dollar store. Most dollar stores nowadays carry brand name products for less than half the cost at a regular store.

Discuss banking fees with your branch, stop paying all those non sensical monthly fees and make sure you are getting the most out of your bank and not paying for services that you don't use regularly.

Watch for major sales in local flyers. Grocery stores often have blowouts on certain items. Also make sure that you are stocking up on those items before they go back to regular price.

To save on your next hydro bill, make sure you unplug things when they are not in use and turn off the lights when you are in another room or not home at all.

These are just a few examples of how you can save a few dollars a month. Those extra dollars can go straight towards your repayment. Most places that issue loans have a repayment assistance program where you can set up a small amount per month that works best for you. They understand that you don't have tens of thousands of dollars to hand over right now. Make sure you let them know your current financial situation.

Double the debt doesn't have to take over your entire married life. Take time to discuss your finances, plan ahead, and save every penny. The internet is full of great money saving ideas, use these tips and make the most of your cash and your time.

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