Combat Money Madness
Most couples, when asked if they argue about money will reply, “Well, we really don’t fight about money, we just have some occasional disagreements.”
When Bob and I were newly married, we more than disagreed about finances — we went to our respective corners and came out fighting! We tried to mesh two vastly different views of money, especially since he was a born spender and I was a born saver. No wonder “money issues” are cited as the No. 1 reason for the majority of divorces!
There is good news. You can get on the same team and head toward financial harmony. Sometimes one of the biggest keys to solving money problems is recognizing what triggers the financial disputes that can lead to more issues or keep you from reaching your goals.
Problem: A Spender Bender?
This is an age-old problem that began when Eve was willing to pay the price for that piece of fruit and convince her husband to ante in also. If one spouse is a born saver, then get ready for the sparks to fly when the born spender goes on a buying binge.
Solution: The Balanced Budget
The best way to begin to curb a spender’s buying habits is to sit down and work out a family budget. If you’ve “been there, done that” and it still isn’t working, then do it again — in front of a family counselor who is familiar with principles of household budgeting.
Problem: The Done Deal
This is when one person opens the credit card bill and — surprise! — sees the tab for the drum set, the new suit or the day your mate took the entire office out for lunch. The fantasy here is that because it’s a fait accompli, your better half will let it go. Oh, but she won’t!
Solution: The Return Deal
With the average American couple in $8,500 of credit card debt, we find that this “done deal” policy only leads to more debt — and more problems. If you still have the receipt and can take the item back for a refund, this is the quickest fix to this problem. Additionally, make it a family policy to always consult each other for purchases over $_____ (you fill in the blank). Sometimes, just the idea of calling to ask what your spouse thinks about buying that $300 purse is enough to forgo the impulse buy.
Problem: Where’s The Money, Honey?
?This is where you (or your honey) hits the ATM machine on Friday and by Monday you have no idea where that money went. You have nothing to show for it. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
Solution: Target Practice
The old saying “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time” is particularly true in your family’s finances. The solution lies in tracking the money. Keep a list in your purse or car to record when you got that $200 from the ATM and where it went. This takes two minutes to document and makes you think twice about spending carelessly.
Problem: Too Many Chefs Spoil the Soup
Many financial problems arise when too many participants try to control available resources. If you’re not careful, one partner or the other — or even the kids — can grab a large part of the control with all their needs and especially their wants.
Solution: Checks and Balances
In most families, one partner is better with money than the other. It’s natural to put this person in charge of paying the bills and administering the household budget. But it’s also crucial that the other partner knows where the money goes and how it is spent. I’m the better “money handler” in our family (big surprise), but we establish our budget together. Bob writes the checks and I balance the checkbook so that we have built-in accountability.
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