My Husband Is Running Up Debt

Learn how to cope with a husband who's running up debt.
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Saying "I do" means agreeing to share everything with your spouse, including how you manage your money. Achieving your financial goals isn't that difficult when you're working together, but it can be a disaster if you're not on the same page. When one spouse is running up debt, it puts a serious strain on your finances and your marriage. If your husband's debt is becoming an issue, you need a strategy for dealing with it.

Acknowledging the Debt

Debt can be the elephant in the room, especially when you're married. You can't really do anything about your husband's debt unless you're both willing to acknowledge it. How you approach your husband can set the tone for how the two of you deal with the problem. Let him know that you're worried about his spending and you want to work together to get the debts paid down. Try to get him to recognize the problem without pointing fingers or placing blame.

Develop a Plan

You'll need a plan for paying off the debt. The first step to getting your finances under control is to agree that neither one of you will create any new debt. Next, make a list of everything he owes, including the interest rate and the monthly payment. The two of you can decide together whether you want to tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first or try to get rid of some smaller debts right away. Pick one debt and pay as much of it as you can each month, while paying the minimums on everything else. Once the debt's paid off, transfer that payment to the next debt on the list until they're all gone.

Get Help

When your husband doesn't seem interested in paying down the debt or you're both feeling overwhelmed, you may need outside help. A certified credit counselor or financial planner can go over your budget and help you figure out what your options are. Getting advice from a third party can also help both of you to put the situation into perspective and give you an idea of what can happen if you don't get the debt under control. You may also want to talk to a marriage counselor if arguments over money have the two of you at odds.

Protecting Yourself

If your husband is refusing to stop spending or pay down the debt, you need to make protecting yourself a priority. Depending on how you manage your money, you may need to close any joint credit card accounts you have so no new debt is incurred in your name. You may also want to separate your bank accounts so your husband isn't able to spend money that's meant to go to bills or savings. Check the laws in your state to find out whether you can be held liable for your husband's debts. In community property states like Texas, spouses can sign a postnuptial agreement, which lets you off the hook for your husband's debt.

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