Q: My husband recently informed me that he has multiple credit cards totaling $32,000, which has gotten out of control. He feels the monthly payments are overwhelming and wants me to help pay off the debt. I had no idea he had credit cards outside our joint account. We have the money in our savings account, what should I do? I’m concerned about his credit score.
A: Let’s address the elephant in the room. Your husband opened multiple credit cards, didn’t tell you about any of them, charged the limits and now wants you to help pay each off. The last thing you should be concerned about is his credit score. I’m not telling you to dismiss the importance of maintaining good credit but he wasn’t thinking about your concerns when he intentionally hid his debt.
Before you contemplate paying off your husband’s debt you must discuss his need to hide all the credit cards from you. As a couple, you must have transparency in the relationship, whether it’s love, feelings or money. Once must wonder if your husband is hiding his financial obligations, what else is he hiding?
Sit your husband down and allow him to explain why he couldn’t trust you enough to disclose the credit cards, what he spend $32,000 on and how he is going to correct his behavior so that he doesn’t repeat his actions in the future. The purpose of the conversation is to let him know that you will not enable or condone his irresponsible, neglectful behavior.
To answer your question, if the both of you have enough money in a savings account to cover the debt and still have enough for an emergency fund, then yes. The monthly payment is taking away from household obligations and drastically affecting your relationship. Don’t mistake the approval to pay off the debt with the acceptance of the behavior demonstrated by your husband. Please note although credit cards finance more than the interest earn on a savings account, this does not constitute an emergency. Your husband intentionally charged a large amount of debt without consideration of your feelings and his obligation to be truthful with you. In your husband’s eyes, the overwhelming feeling of paying the monthly debt is an emergency. But this is a circumstance that he created on his own.
“Love yourself enough to support yourself.” Bahiyah Shabazz
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