It was a little under 3 years ago when I got married and added the cost of the wedding on top of my already existing student loan payments – was it a mistake?
This article looks at when it makes sense to get married while you still have student student loans. I also share the strategy my wife and I used to be able to afford our wedding without taking on additional debt and pay off my 22k in student loans within 3 years of graduating.
With the cost of college increasing 1,120 percent in the past 30 years it is understandable that the percent of people who delay marriage because of student loans is also increasing.
A study by IHS Global Insight and reported in a Bloomberg Businessweek article showed…
In the years when student loans have risen the average age of marriage has also risen.
Source – Edudemic
Average Cost of a Wedding and an Education
Average Wedding Cost – According to the website Cost of Wedding, the average U.S. couple spends anywhere from $19,000 to $32,000 on their wedding. This amount does not even reflect the added expenses of the honeymoon.
Average Student Loan at Graduation – According to a report released by collegeboard.org for the 2011-2012 school year, the average undergraduate student who attended a public 4-year college or university owes over $23,000 in student loans by graduation.
Our Decision To Get Married With Student Loans & 4 Part Plan To Make It Happen
I had 22.5k in student loan debt when I graduated while my wife was lucky enough to not have any. We made the decision when I graduated that we would not wait until the student loan was paid off before we got married.
But we did make another very important decision:
We WILL NOT take on any additional debt to pay for the wedding.
Our budget was set at how much we could save in the 1 year after graduating before the wedding. Our 4 part strategy was pretty straightforward…
- Pay minimum amount monthly on student loans after graduation and until the wedding
- Set a wedding budget and stick to it ($20k wedding budget)
- Set monthly savings goals to have enough money in time to make all required wedding down payments ($1.5k/month)
- Roll the monthly wedding savings into student loan repayment immediately after the wedding ($1.5k/month)
This plan worked really well and 3 years after I graduated I was free of my student loans and we had no debt from our wedding.
So, should you get married when you still have student loan debt?
The decision is yours, of course. But, there are a few things you should probably consider before planning your “I do’s”.
How Does Marriage Affect Your and Your Spouses Student Loans?
According to nolo.com, in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, both spouses are on the hook for any student loan debt either spouse brings into the marriage.
However, in most states a creditor is not able to go after your spouse for your student loans.
Legal Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer and the legal implications of marriage and student loans will be unique for everyone’s situation.
If You Wait – How long will it take to pay off your student loan debt?
The time frame for paying off your student loan debt depends on two main factors:
- the pay of the job you snag after graduation
- the amount of debt you still owe
For the purposes of this article, we will stick with the average debt of $23,000.
If you budget well, you should eventually be able to pay off your student loans on any salary. However, if you are working for minimum wage, 15k/year, you may be well into your thirties or forties before you see an end to your student loan debt.
With a higher paying career, you could possibly pay off your debt within a couple of years. Of course, this still depends on your budget and what other expenses you have.
Key To Getting Married With Student (or any other) Loans – Start with a budget!
If you are thinking of getting married and still owe on your student loans, the first thing you need to do is create a budget. Here are a few things you need to consider when budgeting:
- all sources of income
- all monthly expenses, including credit card payments and other debt
- monthly student loan payment amount
If your income is higher than your monthly expenses, you are off to a good start. Start saving your extra income for future wedding expenses. Calculate your wedding budget and figure how long it will take to save the total amount.
If your income is lower than your monthly expenses, you should probably put your wedding plans on hold. You would only be adding to your current debt. Find ways to cut down on monthly expenses, while still making student loan payments. When your expenses are lower than your income, begin saving the extra money for your future wedding.
It is your decision.
Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. However, it would be to your benefit to have a plan before adding the debt of a wedding to your current student loan debt.