I got married in May, and my wife brought student loan debt into the marriage. I had some savings before the wedding, and I could pay this off immediately without putting us in a bind. But is this “her” debt, or should I look at it as “our” debt?
Absolutely, you should view it as “our” debt. It came with the territory when you two walked down the aisle.
A lot of people don’t use the old-fashioned marriage vows anymore, but The Book of Common Prayer reads, “… for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, and unto thee I pledge my worldly goods.” Basically, that means you’re saying, “I’m ready to take a bullet for you. I’m going to do whatever it takes to serve you, and vice versa.” You’re joining your separate lives into one.
In addition to all this, you guys need to be in agreement on how you’re going to handle money. In other words, it all gets worked out together with both of you sitting down and planning your financial future as one. This is called a budget. Like everything else, you work on it together. It’s not a situation where one of you is making all the decisions or bailing out the other.
But if you guys are on the same page—if your relationship is healthy and you’re in agreement about moving forward with shared dreams and goals—then I’d say write the check today and knock out that debt!
About online banks
How do you feel about using an online bank for your emergency fund?
I don’t think that’s a problem at all in most situations. Just make sure you do a little research. Know who you’re dealing with and that they’ve got some strength. A bank that is known as a “click and mortar”— one that has a physical location as well as online— would be my preference. Some of them have great debit card programs that includes debit card rewards and high-interest checking accounts, too.
When it comes to an emergency fund, I like the idea of keeping it in a separate money market account. That way you get money market rates, plus you can attach check writing privileges to the account. Then when an emergency comes along, you don’t have to worry about shuffling money around. You can just write a check out of the account. Problem solved!
Dave Ramsey is a trusted voice on money and business. He’s a best-selling author and his radio show is on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.