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Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt Book Review
by Mary Hunt is a wonderful book for couples that are in debt, wanting to avoid debt, or want to get a better handle on the financial aspect of marriage. As everyone knows, marriage is a partnership. It is also a partnership in money, although many people do not treat it as such. This book will help all couples work together better. Debt-Proof Your Marriage
One of the reasons I like this book is because Mary Hunt has been through major financial hardship and gotten herself and family into a lot of debt - and then gotten her family back out of it. She talks about how it was 12 years before they hit rock bottom - 12 years of digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt. After her family hit bottom it took them 13 years to dig out of the debt. Paying back over $100,000 in debt and having it take that long takes a lot of perseverance. Having experienced so much herself, Mary Hunt has a lot of good things to say about finances.
Debt-Proof Your Marriage talks about the steps to take when getting control of your finances. Coming clean with your spouse is of course the first step. Coming up with a plan is second. Hunt talks about the different stages of marriage. Stage 1 is Magnetic Attraction, stage 2 is Reality's Rude Awakening, stage 3 is I Love You: Now Change, stage 4 is Surrender and Acceptance, stage 5 is Peace, Harmony and Romantic Love. I found the descriptions of these stages to be rather accurate and somewhat humorous.
The book goes on to talk about how men and women handle money differently and she even devotes a whole chapter to each sex, discussing how the opposite sex thinks and what they need. She talks about intimacy in marriage and how dealing with financial matters will bring couples closer together and to a level of intimacy that they could not reach without really dealing with finances together. I found this to be interesting and something that I had not thought of before. I do agree that when something is going wrong in a marriage, working through it together will definitely bring you closer together, and this includes finances.
Debt-Proof Your Marriage talks about six principles to getting you there.
- Principal #1 - God is the source. Hunt talks about how God has provided everything for you, the talents to have a job, the pay from the job, etc. She wants people to realize that everything comes from God, not us.
- Principal #2 - Money is not for spending. Hunt states that you need to manage your money first before you spend it. This means being a wise steward of the gifts God has given you.
- Principal #3 - Never keep it all. Hunt advocates that before you do anything at all you give back 10% in tithe.
- Principal #4 - Never spend it all. Pay yourself first and save something from every paycheck.
- Principal #5 - No more new debt. I definitely agree with this principal. The first thing any couple should do when trying to get their finances back on track is to agree on no more new debt.
- Principal #6 - More money is not the solution. Most people think, at some time or another, that if they only made a few thousand more a year that all their problems would be solved. But the truth is, most people make plenty of money, they just don't spend it wisely. Living within your means is key to financial success.
According to Mary Hunt you need to debt-proof your marriage to insure your relationship, to survive lean times, to reduce your stress, to teach your children, and to allow God to care for you. Hunt is a firm believer in the 10-10-80 plan. When you get paid any income the first 10% goes towards your tithe, the next 10% is yours to save and the last 80% is what you live on. Even when you are deep in dept, she advocates tithing and saving. While I think that saving something each paycheck is essential, I have to question this plan. Tithing is definitely a personal thing, but the saving makes me wonder. When you have a lot of debt and are struggling to make ends meet, how are you going to start saving 10%? How are you going to start living on only 80% of your salary? I do think that a lot of people have plenty of room in their budget to cut things out and reduce spending, but 20%? I just don't know if that would work for most people.
Another key element to Mary Hunt's book is the rapid debt repayment plan. Hunt wants you to write down all of your debts in order starting with the shortest term all the way through to the longest term. Don't worry about percentage rates or monthly payments, go in order of how long it will take you to pay off each debt. List your minimum payments next to each debt. Add up all your minimum payments and this is what you will pay on your debts until they are all paid off. If the total of your minimum payments is $682, that is what you will pay every month regardless of how many debts you have left. The problem I see with this is that it will take a very long time to pay off that first debt, only making the minimum payments. If you can scrape up extra money each month to put towards the principal of your debts, you will be out of debt much faster. Once the debts start getting paid off you will put all the minimum payments of the debts you have paid off towards the next debt on your list. It is similar to a debt snowball really.
Also in this book, Mary Hunt talks about freedom accounts and contingency funds,both of which I think are essential for anyone wanting to be in control of their finances. A contingency fund is essentially an emergency fund. A freedom account is an account set up to cover those periodic expenses that you know will crop up, but are not regular - i.e. new tires for the car, the quarterly sewer bill, etc. While I see the necessity of both of these accounts, I don't think they should be fully funded before completing your debt repayment plan. I do think everyone should have an emergency fund. However if you are deep into debt, you do not need to have $10,000 or more sitting in the bank collecting 1% interest while you are paying 15% to your credit cards. In my opinion, a small contingency fund will usually suffice while you contribute as much as possible towards your debt repayment.
Mary Hunt goes on to talk about making a spending plan (budget) and tracking your spending. She devotes a whole chapter to ways that will help you to reduce your spending. She even talks about credit cards and your credit report. She gives information about credit counseling and negotiating with credit card companies. She even goes into detail about how to close a credit card account for good. This is harder to do than most people think!
This book contains a wealth of information for someone wanting to get a good handle on their finances. Mary Hunt has definitely "been there, done that" when it comes to financial struggles. She shares her knowledge in this great book Debt-Proof Your Marriage.