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Tackling your debts

Don’t end up married to debt regrets

Posted 20 May 2016 by Emily Bancroft

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Getting married is about making a commitment to your partner – you don’t need to get into debt to do so.

If you’re planning to tie the knot, it’s likely to be an exciting – and potentially stressful – time for you both. You might have dreamed about your wedding since you were young, but are you willing to get into debt for the perfect day?

Research* carried out for us last year found that a quarter of couples borrowed to fund their big day, with half of these saying they wished they hadn’t spent as much. But what effect can large amounts of debt have on your marriage? Let’s find out.

Starting married life

According to Brides Magazine, the average UK wedding now costs more than £30,000**! With this in mind, it’s no wonder that some couples end up borrowing to pay for their dream wedding.

The research showed that couples borrow an average of £3,800 for their wedding plans. This debt can last well into married life, with nearly a third of couples saying they’re still repaying wedding bills six years after the big day.

As newlyweds, you don’t want your first years together to be overshadowed by the stress and worry of debt. It could also cause friction between the two of you – it’s easy to get into arguments about money.

While you’re planning your wedding, you should take a look at what you’re willing to spend and decide whether it’s really worth getting into debt for. Do you still want to be paying off your wedding when you’ve been married for six years? If the answer is no, you might want to rethink your wedding budget.

How to save money

Having a big wedding might be important to you – and that’s fine. That doesn’t mean you need to spend close to the UK average of £30,000 though – you can still have a special day without spending more than you can afford.

First off, you should start by making a budget. Talk to your partner about what’s really important to the two of you – whether that’s getting married in a church, having all of your friends and family present or having a great honeymoon. Set the money aside you need for this and work out what you can afford to spend.

It might not seem very romantic but try your best to stick to your budget. You might have to make a few hard decisions like putting a limit on the guest list or only having two bridesmaids instead of the five you wanted. However, if you want to stay away from borrowing for your wedding, it will be worth it when you start your married life without debt.

There are lots of ways you can cut the cost of your wedding day, from getting married in the winter to asking your friends for help. Find out how to do this in our guide to avoiding wedding day regret.

Are your finances linked?

Just because you’re getting married, this doesn’t mean you’ll be ‘financially linked’ to your partner. A financial link to another person means their details appear on your credit history and they can affect your ability to take out credit in the future.

However, if you take out a financial product with your spouse, this will create a financial link. This could be opening a joint bank or savings account, getting a mortgage together or it might be taking out a joint loan to fund your wedding.

This means if you or your partner has had any problems with credit in the past, this could now affect the other person’s credit history. You might find it harder to take out loans, credit cards or even mobile phone contracts. If you are accepted for credit, it might be at a higher interest rate – which could mean you’ll have to pay more back.

That’s why if one of you has had problems with credit in the past, it’s best to talk about this. You might decide to apply for credit separately until you’ve had a chance to improve your credit history.

End of the honeymoon period

Of course, no one gets married planning to divorce – you want it to be forever. However, relationships can break down and if this happens, you’ll have to work through it together.

If you’re still repaying any joint loans from your wedding, you’ll still both have to deal with this. That’s because you’re ‘jointly and severally liable’ for all debts you’ve taken out together. This means you’re both responsible for the debt and if one of you can’t or won’t pay it, the other one will have to manage it alone.

As we mentioned, this won’t happen if you’ve taken out loans separately – it’s just for financial products you’ve taken out jointly. This is the same whether you’re married or not, although you might be more likely to take out credit together when you’re in a long-term relationship.

What are the solutions?

If you and your partner are already struggling with debt from your wedding, the most important thing is not to panic – there’s always a way out of problem debt. Talk to your lenders about your difficulties – you might be able to agree an affordable payment plan and get back towards financial security. They might also agree to freeze interest and charges on your debts for a while. 

You could also seek help from the Money Advice Service or one of our dedicated advisors. They can help you look at the different solutions available and will tell you which one is right for your situation. If you work together with your spouse and seek professional advice, there’s no reason why you can’t beat problem debt. 

 

by Emily Bancroft

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.