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Money can be one of the toughest parts of falling in love. An already complicated conversation can get even trickier once you start discussing the d-word. Yes, we’re talking about debt.
Millennials have more student debt than any generation before us, and while we are often accused of killing everything from the engagement ring industry to the nuclear family, we may be opting out of certain milestones, but falling in love does not appear to be one of them.
And when we enter into relationships we are bringing more financial baggage than the generations before us. Although conversations about money may seem like an instant mood killer, as long as you frame the conversation correctly, it can actually be an opportunity to connect on an even deeper level.
Paying off debt slowly can sometimes benefit your credit score, and leave more opportunity to spend money on other things like travel and investments now
So if you’re starting to think that ‘bae’ might be someone you want to keep around for the long-haul, here’s why and how discussing refinancing your student loans might actually help your relationship.
You Have How Much Debt?
Being transparent about how much debt you are in can be tricky, particularly if you are one of many millennials that are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. To “I love you,” and “I do,” it is now appropriate to add, “I have $70,000 in debt,” to the list of potentially nerve-wracking relationship milestone statements.
It is incredibly important to be upfront with someone about your finances. Experts seem to agree that transparency about finances is one of the keys to a happy relationship. Bringing up just how much debt you have might make meeting the parents seem like a delightful no-pressure situation, but it’s also a way to show your partner that you are truly open to sharing yourself with them.
How Much of a Priority is Getting Out of Debt?
A great way to bring up the topic of how much debt you have is starting a conversation about how much of a priority it is for you to be debt free. You may already have some idea of this if you’ve been dating for a while.
If you’re not ready to open a conversation with a frank discussion of how much debt you have and just how high your interest rates are, starting with a chat about financial priorities and how debt plays into that equation can be a great springboard for a deeper discussion.
If you’d really like to be out of debt before you consider buying a house, bring that up! If you are okay paying off your loans slowly but surely over 10 or more years, bring that up too. Paying off debt slowly can sometimes benefit your credit score, and leave more opportunity to spend money on other things like travel and investments now. Opening a discussion with your partner about how you feel about debt can help foster further conversation about financial priorities, and also give you an opportunity to see what you can learn together.
Is it reasonable to expect your partner to share your student loan burden?
If your S.O. doesn’t seem like the type to want to discuss debt, that may be a red flag, or at least a pink one. If you can’t talk about loans how are you going to talk about something like illness, children, or starting a family? No matter how necessary the convo, it can still feel super intimidating to get it started. Think of it this way, if they freak out, you can tell them that you’re telling them now because you trust them and didn’t want to spring it on them later.
Your debt probably isn’t going anywhere anytime super soon. So have those conversations thoughtfully now. If they are still being a totally jackass about it, you might need to ask yourself if you really see a future with this person. We aren’t relationship experts, but we are all about the stats, and statistics show that 94% of people who say they have a “great” marriage talk about money goals with their spouse.
Is Your Debt My Debt?
Okay, this is a big one. If one partner has significantly more debt than the other, the question can become, “Will you take on my debt?” Couples often share expenses — everything from mortgages and rent to utilities and groceries. But is it reasonable to expect your partner to share your student loan burden?
If you plan on combining your finances at any point in time, this is an incredibly important question to ask. Your financial habits, your credit, and your debt can start having a very real effect on your partner’s life. And this becomes particularly acute if one of you has a very high amount of debt.
ISHO (aka In Stash’s Humble Opinion), if we’re planning on spending the rest of our lives together, your debt is my debt baby. You’re signing on for the good and the bad, and that also means someone’s finances. One team, one dream. Financial dreams included.
This is when the discussion of refinancing your student loan debt can be particularly useful. Rather than just talking about how much debt you have, and how long it is going to take you to pay off, you can discuss how much you can be saving with a service like Credible to lower your APR and help you find a better way to pay off your debt over time.
In fact, if you both have student loan debt, a conversation about how and when to refinance can be a great way to facilitate a substantive discussion about how your student loan debt will factor into your relationship as you grow together. After all you will be saving and investing for joint goals soon, if you aren’t already. Excluding paying down your debt from this joint planning can be super detrimental to your goals and affect the amount of interest your “household” will wind up paying over time.
If you’re ready to find out more about refinancing, we recommend checking out our blog all about why you should consider refinancing. Full disclosure, it also talks about our favorite option for refinancing, Credible. Check out your options, learn with your partner, or share it with them later. The most important part is starting the conversation. We’ll be here when you’re ready to finish it.