How Couples Can Improve Their Finances For 2012

Money is the #1 reason for strife in any relationship. With the economy stalled and many hurting in the financial department, this strife can quickly intensify and ruin personal relationships. While the year is new, couples need to sit down and take time to help improve their finances for the short and long-term.

First, always know where your money is going. This is where a budget comes in. A budget doesn’t need to be anything complex or extravagant. You simply need to have a written record of what you earn each week/month and what you spend it on. Doing this will help you better understand what you spend money on and how you can improve. Note what expenses are vital and/or unavoidable, such as mortgages, utility bills, loan payments and so on. Then, note what you’ve put into savings or other investments, and finally, what your discretionary income is. This will help you see where you can trim spending to better pay your bills and reduce debt.

Second, you should have goals in mind for your finances. You have goals for everything from your career to your fitness, so why not for money? This is especially important for younger couples. Having goals will help keep you on track with your budget, since you’ll have a concrete reason to stick to your budget and add to your savings account. Sit down with your partner and define your goals for saving money. Are you looking to make a large purchase soon, such as a new car or a house? Do you want to open a college fund for your children? Are you planning for possible medical emergencies?

Lastly, be a team about your finances. Everyone has different spending habits and different concepts about money, so it’s important to be upfront about those and not to play the blame game when things go wrong. You should be completely honest about what you spend and where, about your past debts and about what you expect from living a combined financial life. Don’t leave these discussions just to the times when things are dire; instead, have them regularly.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you need it. Support groups and couple’s counseling can do wonders for issues with communication, while a professional debt counselor can help you do the most with your money. Talk to others who have been in the same situation and have improved their finances. It’s never too late to begin working for a better fiscal future.