Money Management for Couples

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Money Management for Couples
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Do opposites attract, or do you look for a person who handles money like you in a relationship?

How to handle money in a relationship

Clark and his wife have long called themselves ‘the MasterCard logo couple.’ The consumer champ came into the marriage with ‘cheap’ stitched across his forehead. His wife Lane, meanwhile, was the exact opposite, ‘preferring taste over budget pricing’ in his words.

They’ve each had to learn to tone down their natural inclinations a bit over the years, and overlap their circles to have a successful marriage.

While Clark often speaks about money in relationships, I wanted to get another perspective on the same issues. Reverend Ron Dauphin, a pastor in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, was happy to share his insights from the pre-marital counseling he does for couples.

There are two issues that Ron sees popping up continually: Dealing with credit card/student loan debt that both parties bring to the marriage, and managing differences in personal money-management style.

‘The first issue seems to be resolving a bit since couples are getting married later in life,’ Reverend Ron says. ‘Most couples I’ve married in the past few years seem to have a handle on debt, with some delaying the wedding until debts are reduced. Maturity and experience seem to help tremendously.’

The pastor admits that finding common ground can be a bit ‘a little trickier’ when partners bring different money management styles to the marriage.

‘Relationships can suffer when the two styles clash. I’ve found some helpful blogs and websites that I refer folks to (TheSimpleDollar.com, Fool.com), and we talk about blending styles and building trust in the relationship,’ he says. ‘I think open communication is key, and regular conversations about financial issues—no matter how difficult—are important.’

As for himself, Reverend Ron strives to live below his means by limiting what he buys on credit and maximizing contribution to his 403(b) through his denomination, the United Church of Christ.

‘When I was ordained, one of the questions asked of new ministers was, ‘Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your ministry?’ The question dates to the late 1700s when [preacher] John Wesley was ordaining pastors to serve in the New World. He recognized that heavy debt can be soul-crushing and is a hindrance to a full and productive life.’

It’s a lesson Reverend Ron tries to teach his own young adult children too.

‘The jury’s still out on that one!’

With wedding season almost here, here are 6 pieces of advice from Clark you can put to work in your relationship:

BEFORE YOU GET HITCHED

ON THE BIG DAY

AFTER YOU’RE MARRIED

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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