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Romance & Money

Creating Financial Health

What is behind your spending habit?

Marianne in West Virginia:
"My husband has a problem with shopping! He lives in fantasy land about our finances. He doesn't understand what's important to our future. We've been married for just six months, and already we have over $15,000.00 in credit card debt. I want to buy a house, have children, and stay home to raise them. He wants to buy another car and take a trip. At this rate, we'll live childless in an apartment forever.
How can we achieve our goals? Help!"


Well, Marianne, are you certain that a home, children, and you raising them instead of working are his goals as well as yours? Is he ready for such commitments, or is does he still want to live foot-loose-and-fancy-free? Those are huge questions for which you must find answers. Remember, foot-loose-and-fancy-free is fine if it is a shared goal.

The first thing to do here is for both of you to write down your goals on separate sheets of paper. Do not discuss them first. Number your goals from most important to least important. Try to list at least ten. For example:

  1. Financial freedom

  2. New car

  3. House

  4. Travel

  5. Children ...

Then compare them. Are your goals similar? Are they polar opposites? They won't be exact; after all you are individuals first. But the top three should be compatible, or you will continue to argue because you value different things.

If your husband loves to shop, what's he shopping for? Clothes, cars, video games? What is it that he values that you don't? Find a happy medium. Then you must develop a game plan for how to achieve your goals.

If he thinks everything will just fall into place somehow, and that you will buy that house someday, even if he continues to incur debt, then you may want to seek some counseling. "Somehow" and "someday" generally have to be planned, and without a plan he is living in a fairy tale land. Learn what's behind his spending if it is in fact out of control. Often when a couple sits down with a counselor, the simple act of hearing from a disinterested third party in regard to their spending habits can be a wake up call.

Or, if he's averse to counseling, but does want to buy a house, then make an appointment with a mortgage banker to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

"Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life."
Simone Weil (1909 - 1943)

That's a real eye opener for someone who uses credit cards. It may well be all it will take to set your husband on the road. Once the broker views your combined credit report and sees the debt, he/she will explain what needs to be done to qualify for a house. If that is your husband's goal, he's very likely to correct his own behavior without you having to nag him. That's a win-win.
Imagination and fiction are wonderful things, but not when applied to ones financial life.

Additional information on this topic:

A. Set realistic financial goals
B. Stay focused on your shared goals

Read Earlier Articles
Editorial Calendar & Monthly Budget Worksheet
Important Financial Help Websites and Phone Numbers
mindy@overcoffeenotary.com


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