Money Matters: Strengthen Your Marriage by Putting Finances in Order

Did you know that 43% of all married couples argue over money issues, making it the major reason couples fight? If you and your spouse handle money differently, now is the time to talk, establish expectations, and draw up a financial plan.

Money is a very big part of a marriage. Having enough to spend, and to do the things each wants to do, is important to both parties. When couples are not able to do that, then other issues pop up in the relationship. When husband and wife are not on the same page as far as family finances go, other difficulties inevitably arise.

Effective communication often emerges as the most difficult obstacle to establishing goals and expectations, and developing a financial plan. Many of us have been taught during childhood that discussing money is somehow inappropriate. Couples must understand that it is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary to managing finances in a marriage. Just as finances must be planned in a business, they must also be planned in a marriage. You must communicate in spite of any difficulty.

For example, how do you get your spouse to understand that he or she will need to curb their spending habits so that you both can begin putting money away?

There s got to be a viable agreement, because most couples discover that a lack of money, a lack of spending control, or a lack of fall-back savings eventually causes other problems in a marriage. Little things grow into much bigger things. However, as emphasized by Daniel Smith a noted financial expert cited in The Marriage Medics, future arguments over finances can be avoided by simply communicating, creating an understanding of expectations, setting objectives and agreeing on a financial roadmap.

The Marriage Medics outlines the following financial plan of attack for couples of any age:

1. Stop living beyond your means.

2. Treat the household like a business.

3. Create an income-and-expense statement.

4. Create a balance sheet.

5. Create a budget.

6. Figure out how to pay down your debt. Agree on a plan of action in which you both share equally in cutbacks.

7. Find ways to cut expenses.

8. Go on a debt diet starting with the little stuff.

9. Have only one credit card for your entire family.

10. Celebrate when you pay off a debt.

There are many resources for help in creating family budgets and living within them. For instance, Jim Miller, a Registered Investment Advisor, author of Retire Dollar Smart, and the host of a financial advice radio show is an excellent source. Visit his web site at: www.retiredollarsmart.com. In sum, married couples have an important opportunity to plant the seeds for a healthy marriage by simply talking with each other, being realistic about expectations, and making that financial plan. Money matters!

Copyright 2005 Cynthia Cooper

NOTE: You may run this article provided you run it with the bio box intact. Please email a copy of your publication with article in it to [email protected]

Cynthia Cooper, Ph.D., is a clinical psychotherapist and co-author of The Marriage Medics which you can obtain via http://www.themarriagemedics.org

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Reassessing Personal Finances  The New York Times
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