Money problems can ruin the love affair with your spouse. The work of blending two lives in harmony requires certain basic commitments. Itís a fact that many families today are financially troubled.
Most of these are in denial. The rest of them are looking for a quick fix. Even a financial planner canít help unless the couple is willing to make five simple commitments. You can always choose to find something to fight about. But if you are serious about removing the financial obstacles in your love life, you should commit to the following money management rules.
1) First, take the time to provide open accounting to your spouse. Most financial arguments are not about how to spend your moneyĖbut about how the money was actually spent. Just like every publicly traded company is required to give a public accounting of its finances, couples should do the same. In the public sector, itís considered a scandal when a corporation fails to provide its financial information in a timely fashion. The same rules should apply at home. Financial accountability, openness, and honesty are essential in marriage.
2) Next, make saving investment in yourselves your first priority. Pay yourself first. Couples should agree on a savings and an investment rate and should prioritize their savings above all other budget categories. Savings should be automated and protected from impulse spending habits. Iíve come to believe that savings should even be prioritized above debt reduction. Iíve found that couples that are in debt cannot seem to get out of debt because they are using what should be going into savings to service their debt, rather than adjusting their lifestyle so that they are spending less than they make.
3) Set a limit on what you can spend without first getting the approval of your spouse. Each spouse must sign off on spending that might be a budget-buster. If you are young or your finances are in trouble, the amount should be fairly low. As you get more experience and your finances are in harmony, you can raise the amount. Any purchases above that amount should require the agreement of both spouses.
In the same way, any purchases beyond what was budgeted should require the agreement of both spouses as to which budget category is going to be reduced in order to make up the difference. If your spouse asks you to wait before making the purchase, lean toward waiting graciously. Ask what you would do if you did not have the money at all. Then, do that instead. Delaying a large purchase even by a month can significantly increase your financial health.
4) Set rules for the acceptable use of credit. In my experience, the easy use of credit cards ruins much financial harmony. It is better when the use of credit cards is limited to only certain required budget items. Using a credit card for groceries or gasoline may be harmless. But when credit cards are used for clothes or eating out, optional spending is unnecessarily inflated.
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