In today's society, where credit cards abound, believe it or not, it is still possible to remain debt free, or to get debt free if you are currently in debt.  It may be difficult at first, and take some effort on your part, especially if you are married to someone who has bipolar disorder and goes into bipolar manic episodes with excessive spending sprees, but it still can be done.

 

The first thing I would advise you to do is to cut up all your credit cards but one (for emergencies).  Then call the credit card companies and cancel the cards.  You still need to keep one card in case you need to make hotel or plane reservations or in case you need to rent a car, or in case of an emergency.

 

You should hide your emergency credit card, or at least keep it in a place that is not easily accessible to your loved one, so they cannot get to it should they go into a manic episode.

 

As far as money management goes, it would be best if you, as the supporter, are in charge of the finances – mainly, that you manage the checking and savings accounts.  You may even have to open up a separate checking account and make sure that there is no debit card to which your loved one has access.  This is nothing against your loved one, but merely to insure that there is money to pay the bills in case they get sick. 

 

You should sit down with your loved one (when they are not in an episode) and explain all this to them so that they understand that you are not trying to be in control, but are just trying to be careful and to ensure that your finances remain strong and the bills can get paid, even if they should go into a bipolar episode.

 

Your goal should be to get debt free, although you may have current debt that needs to be tended to first.  Cutting up your credit cards is a fine idea, but you may still have balances that need to be paid off.  If they are excessive, one thing you might do is called debt renegotiation.

 

With debt renegotiation, you contact your credit card company and negotiate a settlement with them.  You freeze your spending amount where it currently is, and you renegotiate the balance to a lower balance.  Then you make arrangements to pay off the balance.  You try to get as low a monthly payment as possible.  You may even be able to negotiate a lower interest rate, if your creditor is cooperative enough.

 

Once you have negotiated a settlement with each of your credit card companies, you will have money that you can save every month.  The main thing is to NOT get yourself into the same financial situation in which you previously were, so you need to set up a budget to which you can stick.  If you find that you have extra money, put it towards your monthly payments so that you can pay off your debt even faster, and pretty soon you'll find that you are, indeed, debt free!