Home > Students > 5 Tips for Tackling Your Student Loans as a Couple

Comments 0 Comments

February may be a month for romance, but nothing kills the mood faster than a mountain of shared student loan debt.

As more people graduate college with higher student loan balances than ever before, it’s rare to find a couple these days that isn’t dealing with debt. In my work at SoFi, a student loan refinancing provider, I often hear from couples who are looking for ways to more effectively manage student loans. Here are a few strategies I’ve learned along the way.

1. Put Your Loans in Context

Student loan debt is just one piece of your bigger financial puzzle, so it’s important not to consider it in a vacuum. Before diving into the details of who’s going to pay what and how much, first spend some time getting on the same page about your long-term financial goals. Do you want to buy a house one day? If so, how soon? Where do you want to live, and what kind of lifestyle do you both want to have? Being mindful of what you’re working toward not only helps you make good decisions day-to-day (like sticking to a tight budget), but also gives the two of you a shared dream to get excited about – instead of focusing on the stress of the extra debt you’re carrying.

2. Look at the Big — and Little — Pictures

Whether one or both of you have student debt, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with more than just one loan. In fact, the average borrower carries four separate loans, often from different lenders and with varying interest rates and terms, according to Experian data. Understanding and tracking all these moving pieces is key to coming up with an effective game plan, so start by gathering your collective loan information and documenting it in one place (like a spreadsheet or online debt management tool).

3. Agree on Your Approach

There are a few common debt payoff strategies that borrowers can employ. For example, you may choose the “snowball method,” where you tackle your loans in order from smallest to largest balance. This approach allows you to get some quick wins under your belt in the form of paid-off loans, which can motivate you both to keep working toward your ultimate goal of being debt-free. However, it might not be the most cost-effective way to dispose of your debt.

Another approach is the “avalanche method,” in which you’d pay off loans with the highest interest rates first. This plan prioritizes efficiency and cost savings, but if your high interest rate loans are also your biggest loans, it may not provide the same feeling of progress that the snowball method does. This is where it’s important to be on the same page about what your shared priorities are, as well as what motivates each of you (i.e. saving money vs. feeling a sense of accomplishment).

4. Optimize Your Interest Rate

Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate is one of the best ways to cut interest costs and potentially be done with loans sooner, so for many eligible borrowers it’s a no-brainer. Another benefit is that each borrower can consolidate multiples loans together, reducing the number of line items on the above-mentioned spreadsheet and simplifying your payments.

5. Lean on Each Other

We’ve all seen the stats about how money issues are a key driver of relationship problems and divorce, but there’s also a huge advantage to having a partner in your corner when it comes to dealing with this kind of stuff. In fact, the people I’ve seen who are most successful in achieving their debt payoff goals are the ones who actively enlist support from their entire circle — they ask for advice when they face challenges and proudly share their accomplishments. When you’re part of a couple, you have that sounding board and support system built in – so take advantage of it.

Finally, as you and your partner pay off your debts, it’s also helpful to keep an eye on your credit standing. That means pulling your annual free credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and tracking your credit-building progress by looking at your credit scores regularly (you can see your credit scores for free on Credit.com).

More on Student Loans:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team