Marriage and Money: Expert Advice

5) Each of you should volunteer to make a certain number of phone calls to shop for better deals on your telephone phone rates, electric and gas rates (are you really on the lowest cost plans?), insurance, bank accounts and any other fixed monthly costs. Also, evaluate whether you might be able to adjust coverages to cut your rates. (i.e. increase your car insurance deductible). Also, consider adjusting your usage of these services to take advantage lower rates, you might get a cheaper phone rate after 7pm and on weekends). Again, tally up the savings you realize monthly through this process and put away that amount of money in your account to pay off bills.

6) Take turns brainstorming how you might boost your income to overcome this debt. Can you take second jobs for a while, rent out a room, downsize your apartment or house, sell your home for a profit? Again, any extra money you bring in, immediately put in your account toward paying off your debts.

If you are unable to do all this, you might visit the non-profit agency, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (Phone: 1-800-388-2227 to locate one near you). This agency is likely to work with you doing similar things, and might be able to negotiate lower rates for you through some of your credit card issuers. There could be a slight fee for the service.

You are right to realize that having a child, while a blessed event, can put a stress on a marriage. It would be great if you both could take the bull by the horns and lay your debt -- evidently another major stress -- to rest first. By the way, an excellent and inspirational book for you to read is How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously" by Jerrold Mundis (Bantam Books).

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