First comes love. Then maybe marriage. Then comes a lifetime of making big financial decisions with your person.
No pressure, right?
Right. One big decision is whether to combine finances. That usually means talking about things like opening a joint bank account and how you’ll pay for all the stuff that’s important to you as a couple.
It might also include figuring out how to handle two sets of student loans. Which could be a pain. Juggling different due dates, payment amounts, and loan servicers can get confusing. And makes it easier to let something slip through the cracks.
So can you combine loans with someone else to make life easier?
Yes and no. There used to be an option to consolidate federal loans with a spouse. Not anymore. But some private lenders still allow you to combine and refinance loans in different names into a single, new loan. That could streamline your bills and lower your interest rate. Meaning it’ll cost less to pay off your debt over time.
What’s the catch?
Converting federal loans to private ones means you might miss out on some key gov protections. Like being able to defer payments if you’re feeling squeezed or to select a repayment plan based on your income. As a fun bonus: private lenders may not automatically cancel your loans if you die or become permanently disabled. (Btw, these things are true whether you combine loans with someone else or refinance your own.)
The trickiest part about all of this is that it can tie you to someone else’s debt forever. Loans taken out before marriage are usually considered separate property. But combining debt changes that. So if you get divorced, you could still be on the hook.
Debt can stand in the way of living your best financial life. Paying it off – however you want to – is smart. Just understand the pros and cons before saying “I do” to someone else’s balances. And remember: whether you officially combine or not, you can still work with your partner to reach debt-zero.