How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt & Keep a Happy Marriage
Can we all agree that marriage is just the best? The friendship, romance, memories, and laughter make being married to your best friend such a wonderful journey. However, if you are struggling with how to pay off credit card debt in your marriage, your relationship can often feel strained and tense.
Paying off credit card debt can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. Debt can be such a burden, and most couples often don’t even know how or where to start. Whether you are trying to pay off a loan, credit card, or several of each, we understand the overwhelming burden on your shoulders.
Fortunately, you have support in your corner, and we aren’t just talking about us, Divas! You have your one and only loving spouse. Working together, you can take control of your finances and learn how to pay off debt fast. We have five handy tips for how to pay off debt and have a happy marriage. Win-win!
5 Tips For How to Pay Off Debt Fast
1. Work as a Team
Before beginning any discussion of paying off credit card debt, get on the same page, and remember you are a team. On her popular podcast, Dr. Laura advises couples working through financial issues to “work as a team to resolve problems you’ve both created . . . not as people on opposite sides of a problem.” Wow! Let’s say it louder for the people in the back!
When we get married, we make promises that we will stay together for better and for worse. These vows also include for richer and for poorer. When financial topics and issues come up in marriage, why do we tend to disconnect from our spouse? Why do we begin to play the blame game?
Rachel Cruze, a writer for Ramsey Solutions, encourages couples to “remember, once you’re married, it’s our debt and our money, and it’s up to the two of you to work together and pay it off.” It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to work through paying off credit card debt if one spouse is holding grudges or refusing to work together as a team.
How to Apply This Tip in Your Marriage:
First, sit down with your spouse, and agree to discuss your financial problems without anger and censure. Therapist Terry Gaspard reminds us that “conversations about money are sensitive and can trigger strong feelings. Have these discussions during times when you won’t be distracted by TV, chores, or other situations.”
Trusting and knowing you can talk with your spouse in an open and blame-free discussion will strengthen your relationship and bond. Both sides should agree to no yelling, passive-aggressive comments, or annoyed facial expressions. In short, be kind!
Also, make a deal to adopt an “us against the problem” approach, rather than an “us against each other” attitude. Knowing that you are both on the same page and working together as a team will make this difficult issue bearable. After all, you aren’t dealing with this problem on your own—you’ve got your best friend right at your side. And, doesn’t your best friend just make everything better? We think so!
2. Create a Budget
It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of how to pay off credit card debt fast. First things first, make a budget with your spouse. Sometimes we put off making a budget because it sounds difficult and complicated, but it definitely doesn’t have to be.
So, what exactly is a budget? In his article on creating a budget with your spouse, Jim Probasco explains that “a budget is simply a best guess regarding the amount of income you and your spouse will receive over a set time period along with how you plan to use it.” Easy-peasy, right?
First, sit down together, and go over how much money you and your spouse have coming in every month. Next, go over all of your monthly expenses. This may include housing, utilities, cell phone bills, groceries, subscriptions, entertainment, etc. Then, subtract your expenses from your income. This will give you an idea of your money coming in and going out each month.
How to Apply this Tip in Your Marriage:
Now you know how much money is coming in and out each month, but how does this help you with paying off credit card debt? It is crucial to know where you stand financially, so you can formulate a plan for how to move forward.
Are you and your spouse spending less or more than your monthly income? If you are struggling with paying off your debt fast enough, then you are most likely spending much more money than you are making.
Fortunately, there are apps available to help you and your spouse get in sync with a budget. Amanda L. Grossman, the chief creator at Frugal Confessions, suggests a few budget apps for couples:
- Zeta – Touted as one of the best free budget apps for couples, Zeta helps you track both personal and shared finances. Another great feature of this app is that it gives you a heads-up when you are close to spending your budget for the month.
- Honeydue – This app is amazing for couples wanting to track their money and spending habits together. First, you can download the app to your own phone, then send an invite to your spouse to set up the app on their phone as well.
- Goodbudget – This app allows you to sync and share your budget with your spouse, so you are always on the same page. Each month, set aside your income into different spending categories, and never be surprised by a sudden expense.
If you want more ideas for budget apps or just more budgeting tips in general, we’ve got you covered. Check out these Easy Budgeting Tips all Couples Can Use.
3. Lower Your Bills and Drop Some Expenses
Now that you are successfully tracking your income and expenses, it is time to free up some money. After all, this is all about how to pay off credit card debt, and you will need extra money to help with the payoff of your loans, etc.
But, if you had extra money, then you wouldn’t be in this situation, right? Basically, we are talking about things you can do to lower your essential bills and some of your non-essential expenses.
Every person has necessary expenses they have to pay for in order to just live their lives. For example, people need a place to live, food to eat, transportation, power, water, etc. It’s the reality of life. However, we often have more control over how much we pay for these expenses than we might realize.
While everyone has essential expenses, most people also have unnecessary expenses. While these non-essential costs certainly add to the joy of living life, we can live without them. When we are trying to cut back on spending, we generally need to drop these expenses, at least for a short amount of time.
How to Apply this Tip in Your Marriage:
First, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page on what expenses you are going to lower or cut out completely. For instance, if you decide to cut out the cable subscription, it’s important that you and your spouse both agree to this beforehand. Cutting expenses behind your spouse’s back will only lead to arguments, resentment, and broken trust.
Find ways to lower your bills and drop unnecessary expenses from the list below. This is not a comprehensive list but a starting point for you and your spouse.
- Groceries: Plan out your meals together, and make a list based on those meals. Also, if your grocery store offers it, consider ordering your groceries online and picking them up curbside. This will help you resist the temptation of impulse buying unnecessary snacks and treats. Buying generic products is also a huge money saver, and you most likely won’t be able to tell the difference between name-brand products.
- Utilities: Reduce your utility bills by making simple yet effective changes. Showering for less time, using cold water to wash clothing, turning down your thermostat, and switching to LED light bulbs are all ways you can save energy—and money!
- Automatic Subscriptions: Have you ever signed up for an automatic subscription and then completely forgot about it? Guilty! Try canceling subscriptions for movie streaming, audio streaming, gym memberships, or other services you are not regularly using.
- Pack Your Lunch: Give meal prepping a try, and pack your lunches at home. Did you know that according to Ramsey Solutions, “a lot of times you can buy a solid weeks’ worth of groceries for the same price as two dinner meals out?” This simple lifestyle change can definitely save you a lot of money!
4. Make Extra Income
Need even more wiggle room in the budget? Sometimes lowering your bills and expenses isn’t quite enough. You and your spouse might need even more money in the budget to pay off your credit cards faster. When this is the case, you may need to earn extra income.
What if you and your spouse are already working full-time jobs? Try picking up a part-time job, a side hustle, or a gig. When looking for side jobs, think about your skills. Can you use your specific skills to tutor or teach someone else? Also, keep an eye out for work-from-home jobs to save money on gas.
How to Apply this Tip in Your Marriage:
According to Ramsey Solutions, “the key to winning with any side hustle is to focus on your specific skills and take advantage of them.” With this in mind, take a look at this list of side jobs below:
- Deliver food – Try Grubhub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats.
- Tutor Online – Try Tutor.com, TutorMe, or Studypool.
- Rent Your Home or Spare Room – Try Airbnb.
- Sell Crafty Products – Try Etsy.
- Drive for Lyft or Uber.
5. Use the Debt Snowball
You and your spouse have agreed to work as a team, created a budget, and opened up more money to help with the payoff of your loan (or loans.) Now it’s time to get the ball rolling, and by ball, we mean the debt snowball method! What exactly is the debt snowball method?
According to Ramsey Solutions, “the debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next smallest-debt payment.” Just like if you roll a small snowball around your yard, it will soon grow to be a huge ball of snow.
This method totally works, but it also takes a lot of work and discipline. Remember, you and your spouse both need to be united in utilizing the debt snowball method for this to work. Stay motivated by watching your credit card debts get paid off, loan after loan.
How to Apply this Tip in Your Marriage:
The debt snowball method has steps for you and your spouse to follow that are easy and effective. Here are the four simple steps according to Ramsey Solutions:
“Step 1: List your debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate.
Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt … Once the smallest debt is gone, pack that payment (and the extra money) onto the next smallest.
Step 4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.”
By taking the payment of the paid debt and tacking it onto the next debt, you will be able to pay off your credit card debt quicker than you ever thought possible. It will take a lot of dedication, but you and your spouse can totally do this!
No New Debt
Now that you and your spouse have some ideas for how to pay off debt fast, how do you stop yourselves from accumulating more? Easy—stop using your credit cards.
Because you and your spouse are now aware of the amount of money you have coming and going each month, you have the knowledge of whether you can afford something or not. If you don’t have money in the budget for those new shoes or that upgraded gaming system, then simply don’t buy it. Learn to save up for the things you want.
You and your spouse are now armed with some of the best tips, ideas, and solutions for conquering your credit card debt. It probably will not be the easiest journey, but because you are traveling the road with your best friend, it will be totally worth it. We promise.
Cruze, R. (2021, December 3). 4 steps to navigate marriage and debt. Ramsey Solutions. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/relationships/bringing-debt-baggage-into-a-marriage
Grossman, A. A. L. (2022, January 10). 6 best budget apps for couples 2022 (with video tutorials). Frugal Confessions – How to Save Money. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.frugalconfessions.com/budgets/best-couples-budget-apps/
Laura, D. (n.d.). Call of the day podcast: Money trouble is hurting our marriage. The Dr. Laura Program. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.drlaura.com/call-of-the-day-podcast-money-trouble-is-hurting-our-marriage
Probasco, J. (2021, September 8). How to create a budget with your spouse (in 7 steps). Investopedia. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/120315/how-create-budget-your-spouse.asp
Ramsey Solutions. (2022, April 18). 27 side hustle ideas to earn extra cash. Ramsey Solutions. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/saving/side-hustle-ideas
Ramsey Solutions. (2022, April 13). How the debt snowball method works. Ramsey Solutions. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/debt/how-the-debt-snowball-method-works
Ramsey Solutions. (2022, April 13). How to save money: 22 simple tips. Ramsey Solutions. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/budgeting/the-secret-to-saving-money
Terry Gaspard, M. S. W. (2021, May 27). Talking about finances: A touchy topic made easier for couples. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/talking-about-finances-a-touchy-topic-made-easier-for-couples/