One of the biggest things that couples argue about is money. According to a survey reported by CNBC, 35% of couples experiencing stress say that it is because of money issues. And probably the biggest concern when it comes to money is how to prioritize your earnings. Before getting married, my husband and I sat down to have the “Money Talk” — one of the essential questions to ask before tying the knot. We determined that he was the saver and I was the spender, and that this is going to be something that we need to carefully negotiate throughout our life together.
As with many couples, we have a lot of debt that we want to get rid of. However, like most millennials, we also want to prioritize travel. But that’s where we come to the difficult question of: Should we travel together or pay off debt? When it comes to making important financial decisions, I’m a fan of talking to experts who can help figure things out and, if I’m really lucky, help me and my partner come to a decision together. Since this is such a common issue for most couples, HipLatina spoke to four experts about how to prioritize paying off debt but also traveling together. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Prioritize getting your debts under control.
“I don’t recommend living like a monk to pay off debts (unless for a short, specific period of time – this leads to burnout), and I definitely don’t recommend living as if you have no financial obligations either (this leads to bankruptcy and very sad retirements). How, exactly, they’ll divide their resources for this will go back to how much they have available, and what their priorities are – but I would not recommend prioritizing “enjoying the now” over dealing with debts. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until everything is paid off to take a vacation, but until you’ve got your debts under control, it’s time to live a bit more frugally.” – Lynne Somerman, Financial Coach, The Wiser Miser.
2. Cut back on other expenses to have more money to travel.
“If a couple is paying down their debt and that’s really important to them but they also want to travel, they might decide to let go of expenses in other areas to make that work. What expenses aren’t bringing them much joy? Would they rather live in a less expensive apartment for the time being so that they have more money to travel? When we take a look at each expense annually (including our bills) it’s much easier to see where our money is going and decide if we want to allocate it any differently.” – Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, Money Coach and creator of the 30 Day Money Cleanse, The Fiscal Femme.
3. Don’t let your relationship suffer to achieve a goal.
“I’m a believer in everything in moderation, so I suggest a balance between paying off debt and saving for the ‘good stuff’ in life like vacations. I had a client couple who were determined to pay off their house, at the expense of everything else in their lives. They worked like dogs, lived like scrooges, and put absolutely every penny they had every month towards the mortgage, for years and years. Unfortunately, by the time they paid off their house, they had no relationship left to speak of, because they’d suffered so badly to achieve this goal.
How exactly you divide your expenses to make a plan of debt repayments plus saving for vacations depends entirely on your personal financial situation. How much are your debt payments? How much is that vacation you want to take, and when is it? And how much is your income and expenses? What is your disposable income? These are the sort of questions you must answer to determine the right plan.” – Nora Dunn, former Certified Financial Planner and current Full-Time Traveler, The Professional Hobo.
4. Do research together on ways to travel cheaply.
“I’m a big fan of living a good life and saving for the future. If you can, save for even a modest vacation and make a priority of paying down debt. Look for ways to travel cheaper. Use miles or points from your credit cards. Subscribe to travel deal newsletters. I know couples who can travel the world first class on a beer budget. Others blow the bank on a weekend overnight that is hardly worth mentioning. There are deals to be had, but set a budget of what you can spend, so you don’t feel bad taking a trip.” – David Rae, Certified Financial Planner™, Accredited Investment Fiduciary™, DRM Wealth Management LLC.