Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Newlyweds & Money: It’s About Teamwork

May 3, 2009

In her Kiplinger.com article, “6 Money Mistakes of Newlyweds,” Erin Burt shares mistake #3: That one partner shouldn’t give the other the financial reins.  This is so true.  Managing money in marriage is a shared undertaking.  Both partners have a vested interest in the final decisions.  When two partners marry they become one.  Their decision to marry means meshing their financial interests together.  Marriage partners need equal input into money decisions.  If one partner is better with details and budgeting it’s OK for them to create and maintain the budget.  The critical practice is that both partners have the freedom to discuss how money is spent.  It all comes down to communication.  How does money get managed in your marriage?

The other 5 money mistakes are: 1) Keeping money secrets; 2) Not having a budget; 3) Dragging debt down the aisle; 4) Sweating the small stuff; 5) Failing to plan for an emergency’

Online Bill Payments..What works?

March 28, 2009

I recently discovered that I did not make an online payment for 2 consecutive months.  While I have paid this bill online for a couple years, I did not make the time to go to the website and make the payment.  I used to get an email reminder to pay it but haven’t received one that I can remember.  This was a humbling lesson.  While I like to think I’ve got it all together, little slip ups like this remind me that managing money is a journey not a destination.  What about you?  How do you make sure all online payments get paid?

Wants vs. Needs

February 9, 2009

We  have a lot of choices about what we do with our money.  How much of what you buy every week is a need?  How much is a want?  What about your credit card purchases? What return value are you getting on these items?  In looking back over the choices that you made with money this past month did those choices benefit you long term?  We all have 3 basic needs: Food, Clothing, Shelter.  Transportation is probably a close 4th.  Let’s look at the number of choices you have in these 3 areas.

Food – What do you spend on groceries every month? Do you shop for bargains? Do you keep a sharp eye for items on sale?  Do you use coupons? While food is a basic need, there are many ways to shop wisely and keep costs down.  What do you spend a month on Eating Out?  Is this a need or a want? I say want.  How much money could you save if you only ate out 1/2 as much as you do now?

Clothing – There are lots of choices in regards to clothing.  Does what you buy have to be new? Consignment sales and yard sales can offer slightly used, good clothing at much lower prices.  My two brothers and I spent most of our early years in garage sale clothes and we don’t have any negative repercussions.  You can also get good sales as clothes are going out of season if you keep your eyes open.

Shelter – We all need a place to protect us from the elements.  As I write this my wife and I are building our first home.  The costs of this are coming apparent as we approach the last 6 weeks of this process.  We do want to stay ‘in budget.’  There are lots of choices inthe amount you can spend on your home.  Look at appliances.  TV, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Oven, Computers, Sound systems. The list could go on.  Before you replace that next appliance, ask yourself, “Is there anything wrong with the one I have?”  “Can I repair it cheaper than buying a new one?” “Can I pay cash for the new one?”  “Can I find a good one that is slightly used?” Can you say, Craigslist? 

We all have lots of choices in how we buy the things we need and want.  If you find yourself cash strapped and stretched with your money, it could be time for you to address needs vs. wants.  Distinguishing a need from a want is a valuable skill if you want to move ahead financially.

His Money? Her Money? What Gives?

January 29, 2009

I’m interested in this ever complex issue of how couples manage their money.  When a couple marries they must decide how to manage the money.  Will they have combined accounts, separate accounts, a spending allowance? 

Bottom Line: It is Your Financial Future (what benefits one benefits the other).  Who spends what isn’t as important as whether you agree on a system that works.  Mutual agreement is the main issue.

Agreement on Goals: It’s important that you both discuss your short-term and long-term financial goals.  Maybe you both agree on eliminating debt but you differ on the timelines to accomplish these goals.  You need to be on the same page.  There are times when compromising is necessary. 

What is the Payoff?  How much arguing about money does it take to finally agree on your finances?  Is one of you or both being selfish?  Are you resentful over the debt your spouse brought into the marriage?  Have one or both of you made big purchases without discussing it with the other?  It doesn’t take long before the money fights begin to take their toll.  If you want marital peace, you must work together on your financial picture

It’s about Respect.  Making financial decisions independently can put stress on your marriage.  Asking the opinion of your spouse on an upcoming decision communicates that you value and respect their input.  Respect is a 2 way street.  If you give it, you will get it back. 

The power of Teamwork.  You and your spouse are a team.  While you may feel like you’re competing against each other at times, the fact remains that working together toward a goal makes marriage more fun. You may have heard the acronym: TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.  The more you work as a team on finances, the more peace you’ll find in your marriage.

Do you and your spouse have a good plan that works in your day to day finances?  Please share your comments so others can gain more from this post.  Thanks

Marriage Talk: A Shared Vision

January 23, 2009

What do you as a couple want to accomplish financially this year?  Save for the future?  Eliminate debt?  Start a part time job?  Being able to agree on your vision is a good first step toward getting what you want.

Power of Agreement.    At his website www.marriagebuilders.com  Dr. Harley has a link for The Policy of Joint Agreement.  To sum it up, he says that no couple should make a decision unless they both enthusiastically agree on it.  Whether it’s funding retirement or talking more like adults, you both must agree to move forward.  Whatever your vision is, you must agree on it to get traction toward your goal.  What areas of your finances would you both agree should be priority one?  Decide together on this and you are ready to move forward. 

Example:  We agree to get our budget in writing this month. 

Follow Through.  Having your priority defined is half of the battle.  The second half is following through on that priority.  What time or money is required to fulfill this priority? Discuss what changes this will require of each of you and make the changes. 

Previous Example:  Follow through by recording every purchase you and your spouse make for the next 30 days.

While this task can seem daunting, it will give you an accurate picture of where your money is going.  You don’t put a budget on paper before you first identify where the money is going.    At the end of the month get all of the receipts out and begin categorizing under headings like Housing, Groceries, Insurance and Eating Out, Clothing Utilities, etc.  Every dollar in your budget needs a designation and a destination.

Execute the Plan.  Before the first bill gets paid, create that budget on a spreadsheet or a software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money.  I use Microsoft Money and find it very user friendly.  After month 1 on your written budget sit down and review how it went.  Did the allocations work out alright?  Did any unexpected expenses arise?   How can you account for them in the future?  See my previous post on emergency funds.    

Evaluate and Adjust.  Mastering a monthly budget is about evaluating what works and what doesn’t.  The rise in the cost of items can cause you to allot for more in certain areas.  Grocery and gas costs are a couple items that have been impacted in our budget lately.  A good budget is a work in progress.  It takes time, attention and focus.

While I chose a written budget as an example for shared vision, you can address other areas such as date nights, clearer communication, or conflict resolution.  The ability to both agree is powerful in marriage.  It’s easy to fuss over differences.  A couple that can agree on something is on their way to a more enjoyable marriage.

Money & Marriage: Let’s Talk It Out

January 16, 2009

One of the biggest challenges facing marriages today is the issue of money.  Couples today struggle talking peacefully about money.  It’s pretty well documented that money fights are among the top reasons for divorce in America.  Couples find the only way to discuss money is to fight about it.  This doesn’t have to continue.  I suggest there are 3 ways to handle talking about money.  Please read on and I hope you’ll find some advice that helps your marriage.

TALK EARLY.  There are present money decisions and future money decisions.  Couples need to discuss future expenses long before they get there.  To talk early is about planning.  Oftentimes couples may see a future expense coming (putting tires on car, going on vacation, buying those new outfits) but never sit down to decide how to afford these expenses.  “We’ll get to it” seems to be the attitude.  Instead of setting aside money each month, couples get right up to the event then let VISA take care of the need.  Several months after that vacation they view that larger VISA bill and say, “Why can’t we get ahead?”  You’re not talking early.  You’re not looking at your short-term and long-term goals.  If you don’t talk about it, how can you plan for it?  Talking early will prevent such financial landmines from destroying the peace in your marriage.

2) TALK OFTEN.  Money decisions happen many times a day.  For a couple to have peace, they must be able to discuss money issues freely.  Maybe you and your partner set a limit on what you can purchase without consulting the other.  Needs can change in your family.  Adjustments are necessary in your budget.  My wife is respectful enough to call me when she’s making a purchase that wasn’t in our plan.  Because of her accountability we will oftentimes make the purchase if it’s reasonable and doesn’t bust our budget.  It’s better to discuss these things as they occur rather than one of you learning about it later.  I can promise you that NOT talking about money will NOT work.  Spending decisions are something we make everyday.  Being able to talk often about money will ensure a better relationship.

3) TALK PEACEFULLY.  This one is the kicker.  How can you talk peacefully about money?  You and your spouse have to define how this will work.  Think about the times and places you have talked peacefully about money issues.  Continue to visit those places and times.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  You may be among those that hasn’t experienced peace in discussing money.  My first suggestion is for you both to agree that handling money right is a foundation for your marriage.  If you can agree on that issue, you can begin to make the atmosphere for healthier money talk.  You and your spouse need to block off uninterrupted time to discuss the finances of your daily life.  If you have no children, finding the place and time shouldn’t be that difficult.  Those with children may have to wait until the little ones are off to bed.  You need some ground rules for these money talks.  Here are a few suggestion: Use normal tone of voice; no blaming allowed; discuss finances only; and time outs are allowed.  Adults need time to cool down.  It’ OK to agree to discuss some items later.  Note: Discussing it “later” doesn’t mean 6 months from now.  Agree on a time no less than 2 weeks away.  Issues that linger undiscussed can become explosive landmines for your marriage.

Make the choice.  Talk about money.  Discussing it early, often and peacefully will put you on the path to a happier marriage. 

Thanks for your time.