24/7 MOMS Frugal Editor
Love n’ Money: According to a survey by American Express, nine out of ten people avoid discussing money with their mate. Don’t be a statistic! It’s to your advantage to work together, the sooner the better. Whatever circumstances you’re in, they will improve by looking at the facts and creating common goals.
Where to begin? AnnualCreditReport.com is your key to a free credit report, no strings attached. Request a copy, check for errors and evaluate your credit standing. It’s to your benefit to improve your credit score; employment, insurance, housing, and military service are affected by your credit history. A lower score will also save you money. Gather all of your account statements and receipts for the past month to accurately reflect your current financial condition.
Mint.com is a trusted site for creating a whole picture of your financial accounts and goals. Online or on-the-go, you can track your progress. The “Consumer’s Almanac”, from the Federal Citizens Information Center (FCIC at publications.usa.gov) is a free, printable, 32-page resource which provides calendars and helpful financial advice for the entire year.
Have the Talk(s): Once you have the data, sit down with your spouse, in a neutral atmosphere. It might not be the most romantic date, but the conflict you’ll avoid will keep the bliss between you for years. Share your money goals and dreams. Together, choose your top three priorities. Evaluate your current spending and expenses for possible reductions. Whether you use a website like Mint.com, or an “on-paper” system such as the “Consumer’s Almanac”, make sure it works for both of you. Set a date to review your progress and to reward yourselves with a small “milestone” treat.
“It’s His (or Her) Spending that’s the Problem”: The stories that follow are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes an agonizing illustration of how opposites attract. It can be tough if you’re the only one on the “team” that wants to reach long-term goals. My suggestion for the motivated, to the unmotivated, is to define the treats or treasures of interest to your spouse. In couponing, for example, we convert “un-couponers” by affording their luxuries in less-expensive ways. When you’re goal setting, start from their perspective and include some of what inspires them.
“Saving for Life-Term”: Start by trading the “now-wants” for the “later needs and goals”. Forgoing the daily coffee or lunch expenses (by bringing your own), trading a “night out” to boost your emergency fund, and putting off that “got-to-have” purchase – all of these will steadily improve your financial health. Enlist the help of a friend with whom you can share accountability. Commitment, teamwork, and communication will lead to progress with financial priorities (home, debt reduction, emergency fund, vacation, holidays, etc.
“Save with Taste”: For help with those homemade lunches and beverages, visit the website of your favorite products. You’ll find recipes, create-a-meal tools, and more. Invest in a few solid travel containers, exchange surprise love notes in the brown bags and enjoy new foods to keep the novelty fresh.