Keeping Away from Debt’s Door: Nine Steps That Make a Difference

Here are some important things to keep in mind to put your marriage on a good financial footing.

  1. Distinguish between your wants and your needs. The material needs of human beings are simple: food, clothing, and shelter, first. Then, transportation, education, and good medical care.
  2. Substitute thinking for feeling. When our emotions hold our checkbooks and credit cards, we are headed for debt. Will this purchase be the best for your finances?
  3. Avoid emotional financial stress. Like going to places where you could be pushed to buy things you would regret. Or shopping with people who spend in a style that is more than you can afford. Shut off the TV to silence commercials that put emotional stress on your budget.
  4. Enjoy what you already have. I was at a favorite bookstore when it dawned on me. What I wanted was not more books, but the time to sit down and read them. Also, it’s amazing how organizing a shelf, drawer, closet, or corner of the garage extinguishes the “urge to buy”–and makes an apartment or home a happier place to be.
  5. Relieve yourself from the lie that says you are what you own. Salespeople thrive on selling people things they don’t need–often using emotional tricks like the lure of popularity or prestige. A marketing writer said that she could make a person want food even if they had just eaten. It was her job. It is your job to make the best financial decisions for your marriage and your family.
  6. Choose to develop your mind. Overspending actually dulls creativity and inhibits mental growth. That’s because instead of creatively accepting a mental, emotional, or financial challenge, we spend. Without challenges, people become pretty dull things.
  7. Forgive each other’s money mistakes. Marriage is a life-long commitment and over the course of that lifetime, people grow and change–even financially. Discuss mistakes in a nonjudgmental way. Learn from them together.
  8. Realize that sometimes debt happens. Medical emergencies occur that take us beyond our resources. Then it’s time to apply again the strategies for getting out of debt–together.
  9. Face problems together. Even if you and your spouse have different levels of financial ability, don’t cast anyone in the “enemy” role. Sit on the same side of the table as you look at the budget–physically emphasizing your togetherness. This is an opportunity to grow together.

The way people handle money reveals a lot about the emotional role money had in their lives while they were growing up.