Don't just live from month to month, making money and paying bills. Make money management interesting by setting financial goals and reaching them together. "An airplane without a destination is going to run out of fuel and crash. So will a family," Ballou says.
And the goals should be attainable. One couple Honeck counseled lived from paycheck to paycheck with no plan or hope for change. The wife was despondent, believing things would never get better.
"Looking for some relief from this desperation and lack of focus, breakout spending would erupt, offering a temporary high that would only bring them back to desperation and their dysfunctional money behavior," Honeck says.
She instructed the couple to focus on a short-term financial goal that would shift this pattern and learned they had dreamed of a family trip to Florida. With Honeck, the couple came up with an attainable savings plan to make the trip happen within nine months. "Forgoing McDonald's or a movie night out was easy once they knew where they were going," Honeck says.