When committed couples find themselves wading in a quicksand of debt, the value of a lifeline cannot be understated. Excessive debt strains relationships and reduces the quality of life. Rather than continue to spin your wheels while sinking deeper in financial stress, there comes a time when family members need to have a heart-to-heart talk about finding a solution. One of the tried-and-true strategies couples employ involves consolidating debt by bringing wide-reaching accounts under one roof at a lower interest rate. Following this strategy, couples can apply for a debt consolidation loan in order to regain their financial health and the emotional wellbeing that comes with it.
Before Discussing Debt Consolidation Loans, Get Honest
Relationships are built on trust and honesty, and financial transparency about the fact you’re falling behind tests both of those qualities. It’s not unusual for couples to separate household responsibilities with one taking the lead on bill paying and money management. After a period where the incoming revenue doesn’t quite keep with living expenses, credit card bills, and other debts, it’s time to sit down at the table and talk solutions.
One of the things families find helpful is putting the amount of regular expenses that occur monthly down on paper. Creating a list and tallied total cost of monthly expenses provides a concrete reference point for your partner to review and gain a working knowledge of your financial situation. Don’t be surprised if your partner has questions that involve “how” you got behind. Those questions may be driven by emotions as much as knowledge gathering. Once things settle and both of you understand some type of debt consolidation loan is in order, you can begin the resolution process together. The following recommendations are things couples often find useful.
Check Your Credit Scores
To qualify for a reasonably low-interest joint debt consolidation loan, both of your credit scores will likely come into play. Lenders use credit scores and repayment histories to understand the level of risk they are taking when approving loan products. Low credit scores typically indicate higher risk. That’s why couples may want to secure a free copy of their credit report from each of the three major bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – first. Next, couples should aim to tidy up any blemishes and try to improve their individual scores as much as possible. Keep in mind that both scores impact joint debt consolidation loan opportunities.
Understanding Marital Debt
While many couples go into the debt consolidation loan process to improve their financial health, divorce is not completely unheard of in these situations. That being said, the debt consolidation loan is not necessarily one person’s or the other’s if you decide to part ways. The agreement you sign with a lender makes you both legally responsible to make monthly installments. Those are reasons why couples may want to only include marital debts for consolidation and not items that were accumulated prior to the marriage, such as student loans.
Debt Consolidation Calculator
One of the primary challenges people face is understanding precisely how a debt consolidation loan saves them money. By using a debt consolidation calculator, people can enter existing loans and debts including credit card balances, auto loans and other outstanding debts, and actually see how much money could be saved with a new debt consolidation loan at a lower rate.
At the end of the day, couples gain first-hand knowledge about potential savings using different scenarios. But before applying for a loan, it’s essential to go over the loan products available and weigh their pros and cons.
Explain What a Debt Consolidation Loan Involves
Debt consolidation involves moving multiple monthly payments under one umbrella. The idea is that by leveraging a loan solution that pays off accounts charging higher interest and fees, consumers save money. Along with long-term family savings, couples can also lower monthly expenses and breathe a sigh of relief. Although there are a variety of loan products for this purpose, the following rank among the most popular and effective solutions.
- Home Equity Loan: Couples that own a house or have built up significant equity can leverage that asset to apply for a low-interest home equity loan (also called a second mortgage). Using this type of loan to pay off sweeping debts ranks among the best choices in terms of saving money. Because a home equity loan is backed by collateral, lenders typically offer the lowest interest rates possible. However, it’s crucial that couples feel confident about repayment because the home is the collateral.
- Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): A HELOC also puts equity to work reducing debt. When homeowners apply for a HELOC, they are looking forward to enjoying a flexible repayment plan with the option of only withdrawing the funds they need. Many other loans are provided as one lump sum. However, HELOCs are more akin to revolving credit.
- High Limit Credit Card: Taking out another credit card may sound counterproductive at first glance, however there are certainly benefits when done right. Credit card spending and high interest balances are common reasons why couples get into debt. But local lenders may offer high-limit credit cards with low-interest rates that allow people to transfer balances. Peach State offers 0% APR for six months on all new purchases and balance transfers allowing members to pay no interest during that timeframe while paying off their outstanding debt!1 People uncomfortable using their home as collateral often find credit card transfers a preferable solution.
- Personal Loan: Personal loan opportunities can provide the debt consolidation relief couples require. Because lenders take on more risk with low- or no-collateral personal loans, the interest rates are normally higher than options such as home equity loans. However, qualified borrowers can secure competitively low-interest personal loans from local credit unions like Peach State that help accomplish their goals.
Using a debt consolidation calculator in conjunction with a budget featuring monthly expenses can help clear any uncertainty and estimate potential savings. After running the numbers with potential debt consolidation loan options, simple solutions often come to light.
Explain How a Debt Consolidation Loan Can Help
When working through a potentially emotional discussion about financial hardships and solutions with your significant other, it’s important to understand this is not all about money. Your relationship is likely based on love, happiness, values, and planning a rewarding life together. That’s largely why there are two sides to the debt consolidation loan discussion. Quality of life remains as equally important as a positive revenue stream. Consider all of the following ways a debt consolidation loan can help.
- Reduced Stress: Financial struggles rank among the most difficult challenges for couples. Alleviating a negative cash flow and getting your finances back on track now will be helpful in the future. Once things are settled you can look forward to feeling relaxed and enjoying the little things such as a night out.
- Quality of Life: Bringing wide-reaching debts into one manageable monthly payment helps provide the financial flexibility to enjoy a day trip or evening out. Grinding away at jobs with little relaxation in your free time is no way to live. A debt consolidation loan can help improve leisure time.
- Family Planning: A debt consolidation loan helps to achieve long-term family goals. Reduced monthly expenses often allow couples the ability to pay down debt more quickly and set aside funds. Planning for items such as braces, college funds, or expanding the home for a new addition to the family are more easily accomplished with outstanding debt under control.
It’s certainly true that securing a debt consolidation loan saves couples money. However, money is merely a tool to purchase necessities, and saving time and stress is just as valuable.
Choosing the Best Debt Consolidation Loan for You and Your Partner
Selecting the best debt consolidation loan to manage financial difficulties and provide long-term solutions may feel overwhelming. Most people aren’t professional accountants, and even using tools such as debt consolidation calculators may come across as intimidating.
After researching your options, it may prove effective to contact a Loan Specialist at Peach State! Unlike banks that are driven by the need to post high profit margins for shareholders, Peach State is committed to its member-owners. Whether you are looking to consolidate your debt with a home equity loan, low interest rate credit card, or personal loan, Peach State is here to help!
For more tips on deciding if a debt consolidation loan is right for you and your partner, review our "Debt Consolidation: Expectations vs. Reality" complete guide!
1 APR – Annual Percentage Rate. The 0% introductory APR applies to purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. Offer applies to new VISA® credit card accounts only and may expire at any time; does not apply to account upgrades. If you are upgrading from a rewards card to a non-rewards card, then your points will expire at the time of the upgrade. The 0% APR is effective for the first six statement periods following the opening of your account. The APR will return to the annual percentage rate of your approved card type after the promotional period, or if you fail to make a minimum periodic payment during the promotional period within 60 days from the due date for that payment. Rates range from 6.9% to 14.9%. A $15 application fee is charged for processing. Subject to credit approval.