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Personal Finance
Gaining Control of Your Relationship With Money

Bruce Guzman -- If you are involved in a longer term relationship and are considering making it a permanent thing, or if you are married and have never discussed your spending habits, you'll want to take some time to discuss them.

You'll find that in both cases, you'll be able to cut down on current or future arguments about money if you both are able to work together on identifying your spending habit differences. In addition, this will be a great place to start in forming a united front when it comes to working towards a common financial goal.

The best way to start this process is to simply sit down and share details about the aspects of your personal money style. If you are already married, take this opportunity to reevaluate your current financial situation. A great way to go through this exercise is to answer the following question separately, then compare your answers afterwards.

1. Do I carry credit cards?
How many do I carry, and what types? Do I pay them off each month, or do I just make the minimum payments?

2. Do I carry cash with me?
If so, how much? What's it used for? Do I keep any records for the cash I spend?

3. What does my credit history look like?
Do I pull my free credit reports each year? What does my credit look like? any debt problems, overdue bills, repos, or bankruptcies?

4. What kind of insurance do I have?
Am I protected from extensive medical expenses or other emergencies?

5. What is my system for paying bills on time?

6. How do I keep track of receipts and tax related items?

7. Do I buy lunch at work every day, or do I bring it from home>?

8. Is shopping a hobby of mine? What kind of limits do I place on myself -- if any?

9. What is the process I use to decide when to buy a new car, furniture or other major purchase?

10. How do I feel about helping elderly, disabled, or cash strapped relatives?

11. Do I want to stay home, or have my spouse stay home after we have children?

12. What are my feelings on donating to worthy causes?

13. How far in debt can I go and still feel comfortable?

After you compare answers to these questions you may find that you are a spendaholic and your spouse to be is a miser. You know that they say, opposites attract. It's been said the reason for this is that subconsciously people are aware of their shortcomings and know instinctively what they need to do to "complete" themselves. If you find that you have trouble sticking to a budget you've laid out, why not have your partner/spouse who loves to keep detailed records [do so] on all of your purchases? This could be what you need to keep your spending habits under control.

If one of you realizes that they are a spendaholic, and they are already convinced they need to change, that's 90% of the battle in a lot of cases. Just as it is with other addictions. Unfortunately, if you are the one that is miserly and your partner doesn't get that he or she needs to reign their spending in, you could be in for a rough road ahead. Reforming a spendaholic can a difficult process and is one that requires a lot of sensitivity and tact. Don't fall into an adversarial position with them. Try to be reasonable and show them that by adopting more frugal ways you will both be able to reduce debt, free up money for enjoyable activities such as vacations, and help finance future large expenses such as a house or paying college tuition.

Bruce has been writing personal finance issues since 2008. In addition to his writing, Bruce also operates a number of informative Web sites. You can check out his latest Web site at Black Leather Ottoman featuring the Storage Ottoman Bench.

© 2010 Bruce Guzman

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