Sexually transmitted debt: what is it? How can women avoid it? Experts weigh

  • Sexually transmitted debt is when you inherit debt from your partner in a relationship.
  • Women often find themselves in situations where they have to share the debt because they have decided to share their life with someone.
  • Alternatively, they find themselves misled into going into debt in their own name.

Sexually transmitted debt (STD) occurs when you find yourself responsible for or have inherited financial debt from your partner in a relationship or marriage, usually due to a prenuptial agreement, or a spouse induced into mistake to incur a debt in his own name.

“Who you marry or live with will determine whether or not you are financially successful,” reads a quote from the personal finance guru and columnist of Mapalo Makhu’s Woman & Finance blog, which teaches women how to take charge their finances. This involves establishing financial compatibility with a potential partner before committing to a relationship or marriage.

LEARN MORE | Mapalo Makhu helps us adopt our good financial habits!

According to financial coach and best-selling author of Money and Black People: Why Black People Don’t Have Money, How to Heal Your Money Story, Busi Selesho, financial compatibility can be achieved when both partners have worked through their different life stories. money trauma, and understanding their money plan.

“It’s about understanding that some people’s money blueprint is about preserving money – they save every penny and spend nothing. While the other people’s plan is to make a lot of money and spend it. When you understand your financial plan and fix what isn’t serving you, you can be compatible with another person,” she says.

Ninety percent of marriages end because of money, more or less.

“Money issues include who earns more, who doesn’t, how it is spent, who uses money as power, and who feels small because of it. Studies show that married women are more broke than single women due to sexually transmitted debt,” says Selesho.

It seems like we haven’t mastered talking about money in relationships yet. Among the reasons for this is a shameful culture around debt that makes people embarrassed to admit they are under financial pressure. “There is certainly a stigma to being in debt and having no money. That’s why it’s also very difficult for people to seek help,” says Selesho.

LEARN MORE | What to do when you find yourself with a “gift” debt. Legal experts intervene

Some Examples and Causes of Sexually Transmitted Debt

Take out a loan on behalf of a partner. When a partner cannot get a loan due to a bad credit history, the loan is taken out in the name of the wife.

Being tricked by a partner into signing as a co-borrower. According to, a lender, in many cases, may require a second signature for the loan from the primary borrower, to spread the lender’s risk. This can put pressure on the primary borrower to coerce or even induce a partner to sign a loan document as a “witness” when it is actually signing as a co-borrower. As a result, a partner may inadvertently become fully liable for all of the debt if the originating borrower decides to stop repaying the loan.

Money embezzlement. This may include secret purchases by a partner.

Joint credit card spending without a partner’s consent. The marriage contract in community of property (ICOP). Discussing sexually transmitted debt and prenups on the My Money, My Lifestyle podcast from City Press personal finance columnists Makhu and Maya Fisher-French, Makhu highlights how ICOP is the default prenup in South Africa . “That means whatever you have, you share equally. This is called sexually transmitted debt because with ICOP you also inherit the debt that your partner incurred before your marriage. This contract has serious consequences when your partner dies or goes into debt. With ICOP, you are 100% liable for your partner’s debt,” says Makhu.

Protect each other from your debts

The marriage contract is the best technical protection. “Besides the ICOP marriage contract, there are non-community property marriage contracts without accumulation system and non-community property marriage contracts with accumulation system,” Makhu explains. “Without the accumulation system it’s a clean break because you get married and you own your estate and your partner owns theirs. You manage your financial life differently, but you continue to make financial decisions as a family. With the accumulation system, this means that when the marriage ends, whether through divorce or the death of a partner, the assets you started with will be calculated, and whoever has accumulated most over the years will have to share 50% of what they have built so far,” says Makhu.

Have an open and honest conversation about money. “Discuss beforehand what money means to both of you and your responsibilities, and make sure all parties are comfortable. Start a process for each person to take responsibility for their own money and find a financial coach to help you,” adds Selesho.

Both partners should be fully aware of financial matters – read bank statements and understand what money is being spent and where. Having only one person in charge makes the other partner vulnerable. Both partners must review all accounts. Also, do not sign anything on the spot. “Read contracts carefully and get independent advice before signing anything you don’t fully understand. Make sure joint accounts require both partners to sign for transactions,” recommends Financial First Aid.

Busi Selesho’s advice on how to work together to get out of debt

Self-acceptance and self-knowledge

When a couple has accepted that they are in debt and are collectively ready to deal with the problem, then 70% of the work is done because debt is often a symptom of what is going on behind the scenes. Some people go to great lengths — like getting a better-paying job — to pay off their debt, but still end up in debt. In these cases, you may be treating the symptom and not the underlying problem.

I have a six-week course where I help individuals clear the vibration of their debt, which can be tied to guilt and worth. Once you are aware of this, you open yourself up to clearing the recurring energy of debt, allowing you to have opportunities that allow you to get out of debt.

Pay double to help you pay off your debt faster

Write down all your debts on a spreadsheet, from smallest to largest. Record the total amount of debt owed, calculate what needs to be paid each month, and pay double the amount. You will be able to pay off your debt quickly and pay less interest. Take your savings and double your debt repayment.

Ask for a raise or promotion

Some people find that they are paid less than they should. Ask for a raise if it is justified.

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