Working as a Team
by Shelly Burke
Money can cause serious problems within a marriage. If your families had very different financial situations as you were growing up, you and your husband are likely to have different outlooks as adults. If your husband saves every possible cent and knows to the penny how much is in your checking account, while you purchase something at every sale, it's possible (probably!) that you'll eventually have problems.
Decide together, according to your abilities and schedules, who will pay the bills and take care of financial matters. Maybe you'll handle the bills and maybe your husband will, or perhaps you'll do it together. You might decide to have one joint checking account, two separate accounts, or separate accounts for each of you for personal spending, and a joint account from which you pay bills. Both you and your husband should have some of your own "fun money" to spend however you want, every month. Even if you only "give" yourself $10 each month, it's important to have it to do with what you want, no questions asked.
You must work together to come to some sort of understanding on handling family finances, even if you don't completely agree with each other. You must have some sort of system, and you must both work together to get into the habit of keeping good financial order. Look at your monthly budget and make short and long-term goals for paying off bills. Keep track of every check you write. Record all withdraws from the ATM. Balance your checkbook.
Pay your bills on time. If one of you becomes unhappy with the method you've chosen, or it's just not working, analyze what's wrong and try something else. Money can be a source of dissension and serious trouble within a marriage, so it's very important to work together on this issue. Eventually, you'll find a solution you both can live with.
Money matters will be with you throughout your marriage. If you and your husband have very different attitudes towards money, or find you cannot compromise, seek a counselor to help you resolve issues related to money. Facing financial issues and straightening out problems takes time, effort, and sometimes tears. But it's vital to your marriage and the well-being of your family to do so.
Shelly Burke, RN, is the author of Home is Where the Mom Is. Home is Where the Mom Is is the most comprehensive resource for all moms, especially at-home moms. The above article is an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is. Shelly believes moms need to care for themselves first so they can better care for those around them. Shelly's next book, What Should I Say? is also available.
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