Your spouse is certain that his business idea will be The Next Big Thing, and he wants to take out $60,000 in home equity to get it off the ground. How do you protect your family finances while showing that you support him in spirit?
A professional mediator’s take. “I would be reluctant to put home equity toward that goal,” says Jennifer Safian, a family and divorce mediator based in New York City. If the business fails and you can’t repay the loan, you’ve lost equity that could have been used for other purposes, including retirement savings, she notes. “Instead, I would talk to my spouse about other ways to get a loan that would not diminish equity in the house,” she says, adding that helping your spouse find alternate financing is a way to demonstrate your support.
A debt expert’s take. “Tell him, ‘Before you do this, let’s reach out to some experts in the field you’re entering,’ ” says Jason Thomas, founder of Future Family Finance, a financial coaching company in Huntsville, Ala. “Encourage him to talk to third parties about the risks and startup costs.” Enlisting knowledgeable, objective people to weigh in will help inform his decision and shows you have his best interests at heart, Thomas adds.
CR says: Get free business advice from a volunteer mentor at SCORE, a national not-for-profit organization that matches working and retired business professionals with small-business people in the same field. A volunteer can help prepare a business plan and explore funding options, among other things. Also, check out the Small Business Administration’s loans and grants page for options beyond home-equity financing.