Romance & Money
Are Your Current Spending Profiles Destroying Future Financial
T. J. in Portland, Minnesota:
"My boyfriend and I have lived together for three years and are getting
married in February. My parents have planned and paid for a beautiful wedding.
In the last six months or so we have been fighting about our bills. We have
over $12,000.00 in credit card debt and two new cars for which we have monthly
payments. And I have to admit I like to shop.
We canât seem to agree on how best to combat the debt, and every time we sit
down to try, it becomes a fight that spirals into mud slinging about all the
past mistakes either of us has made, from money to old spouses. Help!"
Well, first, congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
I am not a therapist. You may want to refer to our "Relationship Guide" column
expert, Claire Hatch. Consider some common-sense guidelines when
they sit down to talk:
Listen to each other without interrupting and without trying to defend your
Stay focused on the subject at hand without bringing up old hurts.
Understand the other's point of view and be willing to incorporate that person's
perspective into a solution.
As for âcombatingâ the debt: you should get all your bills together and make a
list of which of your credit cards have the highest rates. List them in descending order from
highest to lowest interest rates: 14.75%, 11.98%, 8.0%.
âThe secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting
started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks,
and then starting on the first one.â Mark Twain
Then, keeping yourselves clearly focused on the task at hand, start paying down
the highest rate cards first. Continue your minimum monthly payments on all the
others, of course, but pay extra each month on the card with the highest rate. Then move to
the next highest rate card once youâve finished paying off the first one.
In regard to the subtle way you slipped in, âI like to shop,â that little issue
could be one of the biggest holes in your sinking financial ship.
CLOSE any retail credit cards you may have. If going to the mall is too much
temptation, then donât go. Or at least go empty- pursed.
If you break down and buy something, write down how that made you feel; Was it
exciting? Did it make you feel powerful? Whatever.
Then write down how long that feeling lasted: one hour, two days, or an entire
Then write down what you could have done with that money:
$200.00 jacket. Could you have applied that money to a larger payment on the debt
that has you feeling imprisoned? Could you have bought groceries, or paid a
utility bill? Put money aside for the kids' college fund?
Just think about it. If you find you are consistently choosing frivolous items
to buy over longer-term investments, you may want to get some counseling for
your shopping. Compulsive shopping generally signifies deeper issues
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