June 26th is National Forgiveness Day, so it’s a great time to let go of an old grudge or two. After all, forgiving lifts a weight from our shoulders!
One of the biggest money mistakes a loved one can make is mishandling a credit card you share. Moving on from this type of slip-up can be challenging, so we reached out to fellow Nerd Lincy Suen, Psy.D. Dr. Suen has some helpful insights for anyone who’s struggling to forgive a credit-related transgression. Interested in learning more? Take a look at the details below.
Fix what you can in the short term
In the wake of discovering that a loved one has created a big credit card mess, you might be too hurt and angry to consider taking action. But it’s important to take a step back and fix whatever damage you can in the short term. If you don’t, you could end up doing further harm to your finances.
For instance, if you made your child an authorized user on your credit card and find out that he maxed it out, you’re probably fuming. But letting the charges linger while you work through your emotions will only make things worse in the long run. Not only is the balance collecting interest, but your credit score could be suffering because your credit utilization ratio has suddenly shot up.
If you can, pay off the card as soon as possible , or convince your child to. Then, it’s time to figure out how to cope with your feelings.
The road to forgiveness is paved with compassion
The first step to forgiving a loved one who’s made a big credit card mistake is recognizing why you’re angry. For example, if you’re trying to forgive your spouse for hiding credit card debt from you, it’s important to get to the root of the resentment you’re feeling. Dr. Suen notes:
“First, you would have to acknowledge that the anger you’re feeling is probably stemming from the fact that you feel betrayed. You feel betrayed because the person you thought would never lie to you, did; the person that is supposed to have your best interest at heart has now burdened you with debt you didn’t know about, or incur …”
Recognizing that your anger really stems from a sense of betrayal will help you talk through the issue more effectively with your loved one. But Dr. Suen emphasizes that real forgiveness can’t happen until you find compassion for him or her:
“There are many reasons [for a spouse to hide debt], but the most common reason, if you’re in an otherwise healthy and loving relationship, usually stems from shame. For many people, having debt is a very shameful thing … having money equals power, status, how desirable you are as a mate, and for some people it is highly correlated with self-worth. Thus, the likely motive of a spouse lying about their financial debt is probably because they were worried it would make them less desirable as a partner …”
Being compassionate can be tough when you’re grappling with a credit card disaster, but it’s the only way to let go of your negative emotions and find forgiveness. Don’t let pain cloud your ability to see the other person’s side.
Work to rebuild your relationship – and your finances
Being able to forgive means recognizing your own emotions and the emotions of the person who made the mistake. Once you’ve gotten to that place, it’s time to work on rebuilding your relationship – and your finances.
On the relationship front, think about:
- Working out a different financial arrangement – If you and your child keep arguing about him charging up your credit card, your relationship will probably benefit from separating your finances.
- Communicating on a schedule – Talking about money is tough, but essential to rebuilding trust. Making a weekly date with your loved one to discuss what’s going on will keep the lines of communication open and is a smart idea.
- Seeking professional help – If your spouse has repeatedly broken your financial trust, seeking help from a therapist is probably a good step to take. In order to preserve your relationship, it’s important to figure out what’s really going on.
On the financial front, consider:
- Tightening your budget – If you need to work to pay off a debt, cutting out the extras in your budget is a good place to start.
- Consolidating – Consolidating multiple credit card balances into one payment could save you money on interest and simplify the repayment process.
- Finding extra income – Taking on extra work is a good way to put debt behind you faster. It could also be a good bonding experience for you and the loved one you’re working to forgive, so look for something lucrative you can do together.
The takeaway: Forgiving a big credit card mistake is tough, but doable, if you take the right financial and emotional steps. Keep the Nerds’ advice in mind to make the most of National Forgiveness Day!
Forgiveness image via Shutterstock