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Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

Q. A few years ago, my husband and I got into some debt problems and worked our way out. Unfortunately, he has returned to old habits and is in financial trouble once more.  While he admits he needs help, I wonder what I should do in the meantime. Is my credit also at risk?

A. The answer to your question is, it depends. It depends on whether or not you are a joint owner on the accounts your husband is having trouble paying.

The first thing I suggest you do is to pull both your and your husband’s credit reports. You can do this by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.  You can pull one report for free every 12 months from each of the credit reporting agencies.  Make sure you pull credit reports from the same credit reporting agency for both of you. Next, review the reports and look for the accounts that are listed as joint.  Any joint accounts will directly influence your credit score. You will need to work together to discuss how you can repay these debts.

You’re already well aware that digging out of debt takes time and dedication. While it’s difficult to feel like he’s starting all over again, your husband needs to be proactive. This means he must agree to take on no further debt. If he has credit cards, I suggest he put them in a bowl of water and place the bowl in the freezer.  This way, he cannot use them, since he cannot microwave the bowl without destroying his cards.  

He must also agree that he will take no additional loans from friends and family. And you must remain firm and not open any new joint accounts. It does not work to borrow your way out of debt; you have to work your way out.

As for repayment, your husband may need to get creative. Does he have anything he can sell to pay down his debt?  Can he work any overtime hours?  Or can he get a part-time job and use the extra funds to reduce his debt load?

In the meantime, give your husband a little time to show he can work his way out of debt. You may also want to suggest that he make an appointment with a non-profit accredited credit counseling agency. If interest and fees are making it difficult for him to make progress on his bills, a debt management program may help. He should be able to sign up for the program and only pay his debts through it, not any joint debts. Make sure it is a debt management program and not a debt settlement program. 

Together, you’ll have to get honest about your husband’s debt, though he will need to make and commit to his own plan to repay what he owes.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.