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I Got Married and My Husband Got Laid Off

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I’m working full time and earning 46k annually. I got married this past spring and then my husband was laid off in June. His unemployment benefits are lower than his previous income and he is missing due dates every other month.

We have barely been married long enough to merge bills but I’m scared because he already has a collector calling him. He has had no luck so far finding work (BA and MBA) and unemployment runs out in 8 weeks. Then he and I will most likely try to find part time work to get by.

I can barely stay afloat paying my high credit debt 18k, car loan 11k, wedding loan 6k and school loans 60k plus rent. I want to keep my credit in good standing. I froze my card, lowered the rates. I have found that since I am not behind on payments and do not have debt collectors calling me there is little help.

What can I do to keep my credit score good when I really cannot pay the monthly minimums in the next few months and possibly the year ahead?

Marie”

Dear Marie,

Call me old fashioned but when you are married this is not a his and hers situation. All for one and one for all. You are a legal team now. Start pulling together on this and you can both emerge stronger.

Money problems are the result of previous obligations that don’t allow you to make promised payments with current income. And these debt problem situations can be resolved by reducing expenses, increasing income, or a combination of the both.

Your credit score means nothing in this situation. It might get crappy but if you can’t pool your income and meet your joint expenses, it is what it is. Credit scores can be rebuilt, tossing your hubby under the bus and making him go this alone, can’t.

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If you have federal student loans then consolidate them and get them on an income based repayment program, ASAP. See this guide for more advice. If the are private loans then you can defer them for a few months. While they are deferred the balance will grow like wildfire. Deferment is not a long term strategy.

If your reduction in income lingers, then you might have to think of bankruptcy as legal option to clear your debt so you can live within your income. Talk to a local bankruptcy attorney for free and better understand what that would mean for the two of you.

More important that your credit score right now is your ability to meet your obligations, save for retirement and build up an emergency fund for situations just like this. Once this hurdle is behind you it is stupid easy to rebuild your credit report.

Your situation is a math problem, don’t let it become an emotional anchor or a marriage wedge.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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