When Your Money is No Longer Yours

 


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One of the hardest adjustments for newlyweds revolves around finances. For many couples, there is no longer mine and yours, but it is now “ours. " This can be difficult in many ways.

I know many a person who has walked around their new “married" house and thought that nothing no longer belongs just to them. This often causes panic and thoughts of “what if. . . "

Life comes at you fast. It seems to move even a bit faster once you are married. You go to work, pay the bills and have children. You take on a mortgage, car payments and life insurance premiums. Your priorities are shifting. Your financial picture has changed. You have to start looking at saving for long-term goals, such as retirement and college.

But you may argue that you are still young and that there is plenty of time. There isn't. The more time you have, the more money you will make. Start paying off your debt. Start making your money work for you through investing. Talk with your spouse about your goals. It will take the two of you to get there.

One of the things that my husband and I have struggled with is that we both spend money without knowing what the other has spent. For example, we know that after bills and savings we have $600 in our checking for the rest of the pay period. I splurge on groceries and spend $150. My husband buys a little extra feed for the horses and spends $250. I don't know this, so I take our kids to have their yearly pictures taken and spend $100. He doesn't understand where the money went - he only spent $250.

How do you fix this? Constant communication. In our household, I manage our money on a daily basis. Each night I spend five minutes entering receipts for the day into our checking register. He checks it before he spends any money. I also keep a list of bills paid and expenses still needing attention for the month. We also try to discuss any large spending with each other before the checks are written or ATM withdrawals made.

Budgeting decisions shouldn't be made by only one person. Both partners have to be included in the process. If your spouse doesn't really show interest, you can provide the budget yourself, but allow them to give input. My husband hates the details. In budgeting, I figured up what he needs for gasoline and his miscellaneous costs for the month and added a little extra for cushion. He gets this amount in cash and promises not to use the checking account without letting me know. This works really well, and sometimes he gives me back some money.

One of the biggest mistakes that young people make is that they don't prepare for the unexpected. You should always have an emergency savings account. Try to have at least three months of expenses in this account. You never know when the dishwasher will quit or the car will break down. This account will help protect your monthly budget from any financial emergencies.

Try to avoid the credit card trap. They can really hurt your finances and your marriage. Credit cards can make it hard to buy a home, save for your future and face yourself in the mirror. Yes, it is nice to splurge every once in a while, but don't use a credit card to do it. Most people hide spending from their spouse on a credit card. Eventually, your partner will find out. Believe me, you can't keep something like that a secret forever. Together you can work to pay off your credit card debt and work towards something meaningful, such as your own home or early retirement.

Marriage and money don't always mix well together. So many people fight about money. It is an emotional and stressful topic for most of us. But the key to having a happy marriage and happy finances is in honest and open communication. It may take a while to get to the point where you can talk about money without getting worked up, but keep at it. It important that you work together to manage your money. It is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.

Martin Lukac http://www.MartinLukac.com , represents http://www.RateEmpire.com , an Internet consumer banking marketplace. RateEmpire.com is a destination site of personal finance, investing, taxes and mortgage rates. RateEmpire.com provides mortgage guides and financial rates and information. RateEmpire.com also operates a financial portal #1 American Financial, found at http://www.1AmericanFinancial.com

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