Relationship Tip #5-Finance 101
How often do you and your partner fight over money?
One of the top five reasons more than half of all marriages end is bad finances. Either the responsibility is not shared because one person dictates them, or one person refuses to take them seriously. A relationship is a partnership. It can’t just be a partnership on some things, it has to be everything from raising the kids, to planning the week, to keeping the finances in check.
The first thing to do is create a budget, and the best way to do that is to hire a Financial Planner. Your Financial Planner can also act as your financial “mediator” if the two of you cannot agree on where the finances should go. S/he will help you set and achieve your goals, and hold you accountable for achieving them. Finances can be scary and overwhelming, and a Financial Planner can simplify the process.
Next, you need to communicate with each other. Make a rule that neither of you will spend more than twenty dollars on something without talking to each other about it first. Another good rule is if you don’t need it, start a fund for it, and save it up. Some times, by the time you have the cash saved up for what you want, you realize that you really didn’t want it in the first place, and that it would have been an impulse buy.
One person can’t make up all the rules and expect the other to be happy. On the other hand, one person can’t completely ignore financial responsibility. At least twice a week, the two of you need to sit down and take a look at the budget, whether you’re on track, and if something needs changing, decide together. Don’t manipulate each other to get your way. Listen to each other, and by listen, I don’t mean think about fifty other things while your partner is speaking to you.
Give yourselves an allowance, and stick to it. You will feel secure as a couple knowing your bills are getting paid, but if you have to scrimp every penny and don’t allow anything for yourselves, the bickering will start.
Cut up your credit cards. Today’s failing market is the result of people overspending and running up credit debt. Keep one with the lowest interest rate, and freeze it in a cube of butter in the freezer. It is for emergencies only, and the time it takes you to thaw it out may be enough time for you to realize that you don’t need it. Credit cards get more people in trouble and start more fights about money than they’re worth.
You may realize that you have to change your lifestyle. Live within your means. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. It may mean that you can’t have that five dollar mocha every day, or that you don’t get to eat out twice a week, but it may mean that your bills will start dwindling down to nothing. Getting a second job should be the last resort. This only causes anguish and animosity from the one that has to work so many more hours.
Couples who save together stay together. Once you start seeing your savings account get fatter, you see your bills getting paid, and your vacation and Christmas gift fund growing, a lot of stress will be eliminated. Instead of having ten new pairs of shoes, your family can go on that trip to Disneyland you’ve been promising your kids for years. Break your savings up into percentages. You know you will have to fork out for things like school clothes, gifts, school supplies, and vacation. Designate a small percentage of your savings to these funds so that when the time comes, you aren’t forced to thaw out the butter covered emergency credit card.
Attack your debt. List your debts from largest to smallest. Pay extra on the smallest one every month until it’s gone. Then, start on the next one, using the money you were paying on the one you just paid off towards the one you’re attacking now, and so on, and so on.
Own your car. Get out from under that shiny little piece of the American dream that you’ve been chasing the Jones’ with. Your car will never be worth more than it was five minutes ago until you own it. Making payments is like giving a snake in a suit money every month just for being a snake. There’s nothing wrong with driving something a little older, and it feels good to get that title in the mail from the DMV saying that it’s yours.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but having financial stress out of the picture can save a marriage. Take steps to ensure that you don’t drown each other in debt, and when you’re old, retired, and living the good life, you’ll be thankful. There’s a famous quote that everyone should live by: Live like nobody so that later you can live like nobody else.