Your vows may say that you’re in it for better, or for worse, but do you need to shoulder the financial burden of his debt too? No matter how much love there is between you and your husband, many marital arguments are due to the amount of debt, and in some cases, it might be the authorised.

Marry A Man, Marry His Debt?

Under Singaporean solemnisation laws, you are held responsible for each other’s debts, and therefore, while you shouldn’t be holding up the fort by yourself, it is still necessary to keep you and your husband on the right financial path.

Emotional Support

Irresponsible financial decisions in the past or college tuition loans (that most of us seem to have these days) may be the cause of the debt. Whichever the scenario is, it is important to keep perspective and take on this financial hardship together without damaging your union.

Once you have become aware of this, decide quickly how the two of you will pay off the debt, in what time frame, and how it impacts your current financial plan. At first, it might be hard to remain positive since you have very little to no debt. But by refraining from having a judgemental attitude, it will reduce your spouse’s stress and help build a stronger relationship between you two.

Build His Credit

If you have paid off the debt or can do so in a short time amount of time – congratulations! However, this may take some time, and the two of you should consider building his credit.

One way you make this possible is by adding your husband to one of your credit card accounts; once authorised he will be able to buy a car or a house with you down the line.

He will not be using the card, which will make the balance low while increasing his available credit and in return help his credit score. According to a financial advisor in Singapore, about thirty-five percent of your credit score joint account on payment history, so make sure to pay bills when due.  Also, by not splurging on material items and keeping a tight budget, you will be able to put more money towards paying off the debt.

Keep Your Credit Clean

Remember, your credit score is just as important as his. Even though you are a supportive wife, it does not mean your credit has to suffer, and in most cases, the bank will not come after you because of your spouse’s debts. You can make sure to keep it this way by not transferring some or all of the balance into your name or a joint account.

Know How to Protect Yourself

Depending on the severity of the debt, having a separate account for a year or two might be a smart option. You can help him in building his credit score while still maintaining an ease of mind that your financial situation will remain the same.

While helping your husband build his credit, it is important to consider life insurance in case an unfortunate event may occur. In Singapore, even if your spouse dies you become responsible for the remaining debt regardless of the name associated with it. If there is no life insurance, the surviving spouse will not only have to deal with a lot of heartbreak but the remainder of the debt and other financial hardships.

Decide How Will You Make Purchases

Consider waiting to apply for joint credit until your spouse’s financial situation has improved, but even if your partner has improved their money habits, there are additional reasons to hold off on a joint credit. For example, their bad credit might raise your interest rates, or it might keep you from being approved. When deciding how you will make purchases together, each relationship takes a different approach that best correlates with their finances. Make sure you understand risks of your options.

You can apply for credit individually when making a purchase. Since you are more likely to get approved, your significant other can agree to pay his share every month. Or, even cosign a loan with them. But, Nolo points out this possibility,”If only your name appears on the loan documents, your spouse could drive off into the sunset with your new vehicle, and you alone would be liable for repaying the auto loan. If you do not make the payments, only your credit would be damaged.” On the other hand, you can add your spouse as a joint account holder, in that case, it will not affect your credit score, and he will be liable for the balance.

Like a relationship, credit is something you must constantly nurture and improve. Keep lines of communication open, so you and your husband can recognise any credit challenges and react with intelligence.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).