If you are in debt, I would recommend a smaller, starter emergency fund. Somewhere around $1,000 to $1,500. If you are out of debt (not including the mortgage), then I'd recommend putting about six months of household expenses into your emergency fund.
Having an emergency fund in place will give your relationship the security it needs to make it through those difficult down times. You will have enough money to manage those unexpected events that were not included in the budget. It will help you avoid having to borrow money to cover those unexpected costs. But remember: The emergency fund is for emergencies only!
Guys, your girl will love the security of having emergency savings in place. Protect your household. Protect your wife. Make it a priority to save for a rainy day. She will appreciate it.
5. Have a plan to get rid of debt
Like I said earlier, if one of you has debt going into the marriage, it is not a deal-breaker. But you have to understand that as a couple, this is now our debt. Being on the same page as to how you are going to deal with the debt is critical.
If you both decide that you like debt and using credit cards and spending more money than you make — while I don't recommend it and strongly discourage it — at least you are in agreement. You need to agree how you're going to handle debt.
Nobody really wants to be in debt forever. So if your spouse brought debt into the marriage, work together and pay it off. Using the budget, squeeze every extra dollar out of your income possible and apply it to debt reduction.
Use the snowball method to eliminate your debt. Make minimum payments on all your debts except for the one with the smallest balance and attack it with intensity. Once you pay off that debt, roll its minimum payment and all extra money you can find onto the next debt. Continue this process until it is all gone. It'll happen sooner than you think.
Working together using the budget to eliminate debt is going to take some real commitment as a couple. You're going to have to say no to each other a lot. You might have to eat in more, choose Redbox over a multiplex and go out less. But it's only for a short time. Sacrifice now so you can enjoy yourselves more later. You'll be married for a long time. It will be worth it.
6. Have personal spending money and be willing to compromise
When creating a budget, make sure you each have some personal spending money to do the things you enjoy. If your wife likes to shop — and you can afford it — make sure she has some money to do so. Likewise ladies, if your husband has a hobby he enjoys — and you can afford it — allow him some money to enjoy it.
The budget isn't an excuse to control each other. Yes, we use the budget to control and manage our household expenses, but not to restrict and abuse each other. We want to be able to enjoy our money, our lives, our marriages and each other. Give yourself permission to do so. Also be willing to compromise; be willing to give a little ground in one area in order to gain something in another.
7. Set limits on big purchases
If you're setting aside money to make a big purchase, whether it be an individual purchase or a purchase made as a couple, set a limit at which a discussion is required before making the purchase. It doesn't matter what that number is. Anytime either of you is about to spend more than that limit on any particular item, talk about it first. Make sure you both understand what your money is being spent on. This will help with the transparency in your marriage and the overall spirit of how your household money is managed.
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