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Laura Hunt

Romance & Money

Creating Financial Health

Stay focused on your share goals

Doreen in Minnesota:
"My husband and I seem to live in different galaxies, with no common language when it comes to our views on finances. Other than the main goals: to own a home, travel, and have children, we can't agree, or even communicate about anything else financial. We've been married for over one year now and are considering combing our finances: bank accounts, health insurance, car insurance, and savings.
But I'm concerned about our financial incompatibility causing arguments. For example, we are saving to buy a house, and yesterday he went out and spent $2000.00 for a new computer to replace the perfectly good one he has. I nearly had a stroke. I love this man, but sometimes I could just wring his neck!
How can I diffuse a potentially difficult situation? Help!"

Oh Doreen, don't wring his neck, it won't do any good. Instead, ask him to use that new computer along with MSN Money Plus, Quicken, or any other financial software he chooses to design a financial chart that will show you both where you are in saving for that new home. Have him calculate in the loss of the $2000.00. Let him show himself what spending $2000.00 when it wasn't necessary has done. Numbers don't lie, and letting the software do the talking will eliminate a few arguments. It's hard to argue with pie charts. That sum of money is a considerable sidestep in your journey to achieving your goals, and there are additional issues if the expenditure was not agreed upon mutually.

No matter what galaxy he's from or what financial language you both speak, you must find a way to communicate about finances. Most importantly you must stay focused on your shared goals: Homeownership? Travel? Family? Whatever they are, they will serve as guiding lights when you feel lost.

As far as joining your financial lives, if one or the other of you is still making independent financial decisions, then you are not ready. You must be a team first! You need a guideline; for example, every purchase over $100.00 requires a mutual agreement, or at least an understanding.

Ease into the joint account system. Start with the car and health insurance. Make this work for some period of time, then open a joint savings account. I would hold the merging of bank accounts and credit cards for much later: a year, maybe two. Most financial experts will tell you to keep bank accounts separate and maintain some financial autonomy. However, you could set up a joint account for shared expenses..

"Set priorities for your goals. A major part of successful living lies in the ability to put first things first. Indeed, the reason most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first."
Robert J. McKain

Financial arguments are one of the leading causes of divorce, so be prepared and follow these tips:

  • Communicate
  • Use financial software
  • Eliminate arguments
  • Stay focused on shared goals
  • Be a team first

Additional information on this topic:


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Important Financial Help Websites and Phone Numbers


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