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November 2, 2012

Dave Ramsey: Debt comes with territory when you walk down the aisle

NEW CASTLE — Dear Dave: 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? — Ernest

Dear Ernest: 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. — Dave

Dear Dave: I’ve been unemployed for three months, but recently I received two job offers. One is a state job that would pay $50,000 a year. The other is a one-year contract for a position in Afghanistan that pays $200,000. I know I’d like both jobs, so which would be the smartest choice? — Nick

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