Everyone can benefit from money management advice – from the Bridezilla who's way overspent Daddy’s money on the big day to the self-proclaimed penny-pinching coupon cutter. Once you tie the knot, however, if you and your honey don’t start seeing eye-to-eye with respect to personal finances, you are more likely to split up. Practicing a little money management can help your marriage get on the right financial road.
You and your partner need to be on the same page regarding where you spend your hard-earned dollars. If you are serious about getting your finances under control, but your partner is addicted to buying sports memorabilia online, for example, you might be headed for problems. Compulsive spenders sometimes have no idea how much they drop on stuff, according to financial guru Suze Orman. Whoever is the spender in your household, it’s time to grow up and start being more responsible by making better choices. Both of you should sit down and discuss needs versus wants.
While both of you need to have a say in how you spend your money, only one of you should be in charge of paying the bills and controlling the cash flow, says Orman. Typically, the more frugal of the two of you should do this. Discuss any personal debts either of you had while you were single because now you share this debt. Once you figure out how much debt you have, how much your current expenses are and how much income you bring in, you can work out a budget together. Make long-term goals and figure how much you need to save to achieve them. If you or your mate is a compulsive spender, seeing a picture of the dream house you are saving for or envisioning a pile of cash coming to you when you retire can be your motivation to stop making impulse purchases.
A simple approach to making a budget is “The 60 Percent Solution.” This entails putting 60 percent of your money toward essentials – food, shelter and taxes. Divide the rest into 10 percent chunks: retirement savings, emergency savings, short-term savings and fun money. If you have debt that you have to pay down, use 10 percent for that instead of for emergency savings. Once you've paid off your debt, you can then build your emergency fund. Revisit your budget every month or so with your partner. You may need to tweak allocations to make the budget work for you. Managing money is a process of constant negotiation among couples, and you both should be active participants.
More on Emergencies
When you are young, you may think that you are invincible -- that nothing bad is going to happen. That is a tad optimistic for budgeting purposes. Set up an emergency savings fund to get you though any tough times, such as a major health problem or an unexpected job loss. The goal to shoot for here is three to six months' worth of living expenses.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.