smart spending

Fight fair about money with your honey

Consider your differences in money styles to be an asset, not a liability. Your differences may actually work to your advantage because you can avoid the "feast or famine" approach that some take to their golden years. "Seek a balance between spending now and later, taking risk and being safe. A couple with these different attitudes can be very good for each other," says Tessina.

But what if you simply can't find common ground? If you want to stay married, there's another solution. "You may have to set up two different retirement accounts with each spouse managing their own portfolio," says Schreiber. This may not be as ideal as building wealth within one portfolio, but it's a way to reconcile differences so you can stay together.

Sticky situation No. 3:

You and your spouse have a lot of credit card debt. Your spouse wants to open a new account and consolidate the amount on one card at a lower interest rate. But you'd rather set up a strict budget and make monthly payments on the cards you have.

How to resolve: Credit card debt is an emotionally complicated issue because sometimes one spouse uses the credit card to a much greater extent than the other person. But regardless of how the debt occurred, you need to first assess how bad it is.

If your debt is keeping the two of you from meeting your monthly financial commitments, then seek help. An outside expert offers objectivity to the situation and this helps diffuse the emotions involved.

"Debt counseling (be sure it's a nonprofit organization) is highly recommended. What works best for any couple depends on their finances, age, outlook and the laws of the state they live in. But find an expert and follow the advice. Don't get into right/wrong arguments based on your own opinions," says Tessina.

But if you think your debt is manageable and you agree to consolidate the debt, you both have to be disciplined to make it work. "If one member of the couple has had a tendency in the past to roll onto a new card and continue to ring up new charges, then that's not the way to go," says Rowley.


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