Marriage and Money: Expert Advice

Problem: Just Married and in Debt

"My marriage is fine when we don't discuss money. We have been married six months and are $100,000 in debt. My husband wants kids but my belief is we can't afford them. Can you advise me on how to get out of debt, not fight about money, adjust to the quirks of marriage, while planning on having kids?" --lorjune0625

Solution:
We're glad you realize early the seriousness of your debt situation. It's the stuff -- if you're not careful -- that can lead to divorce. We urge you to immediately get your hubby to the kitchen table, and sit down with all your financial records. You both need to resolve to get rid of that $100,000 debt ASAP! Once you're sitting together, do the following:

1) Make a pact to stop using all credit cards immediately. You'll automatically spend one-third less.

2) Determine whether there's any way to transfer any of your high-rate debt to lower rates. Sometimes, for example, credit card companies offer special rates if you transfer balances. Make sure that you can pay the particular debt off, though, before that low rate expires.

3) Get your checkbook registers. Write down every single item you have spent money on for the month. Next, write down very item you have laid out cash for -- including coffee, donuts, candy, gum, soda, etc.

4) Once you have everything down on paper, read off each item out loud. Both of you take turns brainstorming on what items you can live without or can reduce the cost of. Do you really need that coffee every day? Any way you can bring your lunch to work? Maybe eat extra meals in, and so on. When you figure that out, add up the monthly amount of money you've just agreed to save and deposit the amount weekly from your paychecks in a special account to go toward added payments on the bills.

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