Marriage and the Money Blame Game
Blame the banks, blame the credit card companies, blame your employer, blame the economy and even blame your spouse. There’s plenty of blame to go around; you probably blame yourself, too. But the blame game won’t help you and your spouse get out of debt; it just perpetuates ill feelings and intensifies the pressure and anxiety you’ve both been experiencing. Debt and the blame game can ruin your marriage.
Defeating debt should be a group effort. It’s important to make a debt management plan and then stick to it. Think of it as similar to your marriage vows. You are both in it together so stop stressing and start advancing toward a debt free life together.
First off get your finances in order. Find out how much you are bringing in as a family and how much you are paying out. If you are paying out more than you bring in there’s a problem. If that’s the case make a list of what you spend money on and get the red marker and start crossing off expenses. Define your needs and your wants and, as a couple, delete those things that aren’t necessary.
Once you figure that out, create a budget. Make certain that you have enough money to pay off your bills and hopefully bank a little money in your savings account. Remember, your debt management plan is a team project, both of you must share the burden of cutting back and saving. Also, have budgeting meetings at least twice a month; you could even make them special occasions, have a glass of wine and relax while you settle your bills.
Another thing you can do to alleviate your debt and the pressure you’re feeling is to negotiate with your creditors. Call your bank or credit card company and tell them the truth – you’re having difficulty paying off your bills and could use some help. They may offer you a lower interest rate or lower payments, but don’t extend yourself; you don’t want to be paying off a credit card bill for the next five years.
If you are in serious debt and don’t think you can pay it off with your salaries, you may want to get professional help from a credit counselor. They can assist you with a budget and, perhaps, consolidate your debts into one payment with lower finance rates. Be smart though, check their credentials; the counselors must be certified and have your best interests in mind.
While you are taking all these steps to clean up your debt problems remember to be patient. This predicament will not go away quickly; it takes time and it’s frustrating. Regardless of who or what got you into this situation, you’ll both be able to make better decisions in a calm environment. Talk to one another like partners on a mission, clip coupons together, dump your gym membership and get exercise by walking or jogging together, pack lunches for work, stay home and watch a movie together. You’ll not only strengthen your finances, you’ll also reinforce your love for each other.
About the Author
The following post is from Kathryn Katz, a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their non-profit agency helps families through financial crisis using credit counseling, debt consolidation and financial education.