This is a guest post by Cameron Tyler. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
You’ve found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’ve also graduated from college and you’re ready to pursue a career. Unfortunately, you have a lot of student loan debt. You’re responsible for repaying your loans, but you also need to make sure you’re contributing to your new household. You and your partner will have to come to an understanding about your student debt and figure out ways to handle it without placing a strain on your finances or marriage. You’ll have to manage a budget that allows you to pay your current bills and loans while still allowing everybody to live comfortably.
Talking about student loan debt with your spouse
Hopefully you’ve talked to your spouse about your student loan debt before you walked down the aisle. If not, don’t wait another second. Undisclosed loans can create marital tension and strain the trust your spouse has for you. Secret money matters can seriously damage a relationship.
Sit down with your spouse and talk about your student loans. Decide whether you’ll solely handle the loan repayment, if both of you will contribute towards paying off the debt and how you’ll budget the available income to pay the debt along with your other bills.
Write a list of your available income along with a list of your debts and everyday expenses. Prioritize your debts and expenses for bills that need to be paid in a timely manner, purchases you need for your household and luxury expenses such as eating out and seeing a movie. Begin budgeting your available finances to go toward what’s most important and set a realistic timeframe with milestones when you’ll get the loan paid off. Be open to the fact that you might have to cut back on the luxuries until all your student loan debt is paid off.
What to do when your student loan debt is more than your income
Because you’ve just graduated college and married, you may be short on money. Also, you might be having a hard time finding a job that fits your chosen career path. When you don’t have the money to pay back your debt obligations, this can affect your marriage and your credit history. Luckily, there are programs available to help you repay your student loans. Some graduate schools offer loan repayment assistance to help you make minimum monthly payments that work with your financial situation. You can also apply for the following programs:
1. Income-based repayment: When you need to repay federal loans, this type of financial assistance allows debtors to set their monthly payments at 15 percent below the amount of income they make. This plan allows you to have enough money to pay other bills and necessary expenses without tremendous financial strain.
2. Federal loan forgiveness: There are many programs that will forgive some or even all the student loan debt you owe. Depending on the program, you may have to make a consecutive number of payments or engage in volunteer work to be eligible for these programs.
3. Creditor-based debt programs: Many banks and other loan providers have repayment and hardship programs designed to help you make payments when you’re experiencing financial problems. Such programs may involve debt consolidation, deferment or forbearance where the loan provider gives you a grace period where you don’t have to make a single payment until you get back on your financial feet.
Trying to repay your debts while being a great spouse can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when creating a budget and making payments toward your debts. Through hard work and financial responsibility, you can have a happy marriage and a debt-free life.
Cameron writes for loan sites that save you time and can help you deal with whatever life throws at you.