Let’s Talk Money

Dollars and cents can make for interesting pillow talk and may save your marriage

risk-taker. Asia is careful and reads every line of a contract before she signs. In the early days of their marriage, Joe often invested in small businesses and bought ?properties without consulting Asia. “I didn’t want any input from Asia,” Joe recalls. “I wanted to do it on my own.”

But Joe eventually saw the strain that his Lone Ranger financial style had on his wife and family-14-year-old Damarly, 8-year-old Jomar, 5-year-old Joseph, and 4-year-old Janyia-and began to ask for Asia’s help before making investments and other financial decisions. Together, the Stoddards cleaned up Joe’s credit and made long-term investments in the two businesses.

“I had to realize I couldn’t do this by myself,” Joe says. “I needed her.”

Now the Stoddards have a cheat sheet that lays out all of their investments and accounts so that they can both be involved and informed regarding their finances. They have also advised other couples in a marital money management course they facilitated at their church, opting to put their financial mistakes out there and help others.

“For better or worse, you inherit all of your fianc’s finance issues-the good, the bad, and the ugly,” says credit counselor Glass. “While income generally increases with a marriage, oftentimes expenses increase, too. Take a realistic look at what your new monthly expenses will be as a married couple. Keep in mind that certain bills will increase, such as groceries, commuting costs, and even dry cleaning. Be sure to plan the amount of money you will place into savings each month to create a joint emergency fund, to save for a down payment on a house, or even to build a joint retirement nest egg.”

2. Talk money with your honey regularly.
Communication sparked by finance discussions can increase marital satisfaction and help alleviate other pressures that lead to divorce, marital experts say.

“The most frequent subjects that couples fight about are money, sex, children, and in-laws,” says Mark W. Baker, director of the La Vie Counseling Center in Pasadena, California. “What we typically find is that it is not just about money, but it is about what it represents to each of them. One couple I was working with recently-she was raised in a family where they would spend their last penny buying toys … at Christmas, and he was raised by a family that scrimped and saved to send him to college.” For her, love meant spending money. For him, love meant saving.

Wayne and Tia McCollors attended premarital counseling before they married in suburban Atlanta three years ago. They pulled each other’s credit reports and merged their finances on a spreadsheet, following our experts’ advice. Still, they faced challenges. Wayne, 32, ran his own business-Wayne Anthony Realty and Investments-and always invested more money than he saved. Tia, 34, found comfort in her reliable 9-to-5 job as a public relations professional. They were the classic case of financial opposites attracting: spender meets saver. Wayne wanted to invest their savings in real estate rather than let the money accumulate in a savings

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