ccording to Fidelity Investments, 2013 graduates who had borrowed had an average of $35,200 in college-related debt, so lots of millennials bring debt into their marriages. The average household headed by someone under 35 carried $89,500 in debt in 2010, including mortgage debt, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances shows. (That’s up from $53,700 in 1989, measured in 2010 dollars.)
The first thing to do is have an open conversation with your spouse in which you both disclose all the skeletons in your financial closets. You should also make a plan for tackling that debt that makes clear whether each person will help pay down the other’s debt or if it’s the responsibility of the borrower alone. Before even getting married, you should also share credit reports with your spouse so you can work to improve your scores in advance of a major purchase, says Theresa Fette, CEO of Provident Trust Group in Las Vegas.