Lots of couples communicate about credit cards. The problem is that their “communication” happens in the form of arguments, blame games, and lingering resentments. We talk about how to recover from damaging financial communication in First Comes Love, Then Comes Money, but if you’re stuck in a pattern of arguing about credit cards, we want to offer you some triage.
To get to the root of credit card problems, you and your partner need to talk about your credit cards before there are problems. If it’s too late for that, choose a time when you aren’t looking at the latest statement—and stewing over the latest budget-breaking purchase—to talk through your expectations, your concerns, and your plans for making changes next month.
Look at your past statements to see where you’re spending money. For many couples, credit card debt creeps in slowly. They don’t even see it coming. Knowing where your money is going–and talking about where you want it to go instead–is the best way to get a handle on your debt. Does your spending match your values? Your financial goals? Your dreams? If not, decide together how you will rethink your spending. Where can you cut back? Where can you save? You’ll both need to compromise here and there—that’s how relationships work.
Once you know what you want from your finances, make a plan to control your spending. If you can’t do that on your own, meet with a financial planner who can help you lay out a schedule for paying down your debt.