Husband, Your Wife Needs Financial Stability.

Gentlemen, please permit me to explore a touchy subject. It has to do with your wife and her job. In terms of providing for the family, I put that responsibility solely on the man in the relationship. Why? Because as MEN, that’s what we do. We ACCOMPLISH things and we BUILD things and we stay on top of things. At least we SHOULD be doing that right?

Your wife looks to you to provide the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, utilities, transportation, and a little excitement and fun. If you can do that, then your wife will be able to make the house into a home, raise happy kids, entertain friends and guests, and enrich the lives of everyone around her including you. However, if your wife has to help provide the basic necessities of life as well, then she cannot do these things.  At best, she may not be able to devote any energy into the home or to your marriage, and at worst, she may resent you BIG TIME.

Consider these scenarios:

1) A husband got laid off from his job and is on unemployment.  Meanwhile his wife is working two part time jobs.  She comes home from her 2nd job, then cooks, cleans, and gives the kids a bath.  Over the weekend she’s got the kids with her as she shops for groceries and runs errands.  On her way home she’s thinking, “Is this all there is??”

2) Another man works 40 hours a week and when he gets home each day, he see his wife for 20 minutes, then she’s off to work.  He puts a TV dinner in the microwave and starts heating it up.  Then he sits down at the home projector screen and watches some TV.  When his wife gets home from her job, he’s fast asleep in the Lazy Boy recliner.

3) Yet another man works 60+ hours a week.  His wife doesn’t work, but she spends her week chauffeuring the kids around to various soccer games and dance recitals.  On the weekends his kids say to him, “Can I have some money?” and his wife is spending time at the salon.  He thinks to himself, “What am I, an ATM?”

All three of the above scenarios have one thing in common: A lack of balance and no focus on what’s important in life.

The first guy is SURE to have some major resentment against him from his wife.  Because he doesn’t do ANYTHING.  If he can’t find a job, the LEAST he could do is help around the house or watch the kids or do the grocery shopping.  He has forgotten that financial stability is something he needs to provide FOR his wife.

The second couple is also in trouble, they both work to pay for their nice house and their awesome furniture and entertainment systems, but they don’t have time for each other.  Stuff does not bring happiness, so having both spouses working to pay for STUFF will not lead to a happy marriage.

The third man is flat out being USED.  He’s done too much of the PROVIDING that there is no QUALITY TIME with anyone.

So where is this balance found?

The balance is found in living below your means.  It is the MAN working to provide the basic necessities of life, plus a little extra to have some family fun.  It is the WOMAN nurturing the relationships and making the home a comfortable place for everyone.  When these things are not in balance, we see the following symptoms:

1) The man loses self esteem because he’s not providing at a level he should be.

2) The woman feels fear because the house and home are vulnerable to financial ups and downs.

3) The woman resents and does not respect a man who cannot provide for her.

4) The man and the woman are chasing happiness by going after material things.

5) The man and the woman have no time for each other.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not against your wife working.  I DO believe, however, that it should be her choice to work because she WANTS to and not because she HAS to.  All the money the man makes should pay for bills, food, and a little fun.  The money a wife makes, if she makes any at all, should be gravy.  The thing to remember is that a wife who works should always have the opportunity to QUIT working and raise children if life calls her to do that.

Did I ruffle any feathers?  Please let me know if you agree or disagree.  I appreciate your comments!

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What the credit card companies don’t want you to know

The following post was written by The Simple Money Blog, and I felt it was particularly relevant for the Debt Free Marriage audience. It is from a fellow personal finance blog that is coauthored by a husband (“KJ”) and wife (“AJ”). Happy reading!

creditcardsAJ: I begged Kirby to write a series on how to use credit cards to your absolute benefit, and I’m so excited about this post. Kirby is an absolute machine at navigating the positive side of credit card and bank account benefits. Heed his advice, the points and cash back benefits are well worth it!

KJ: Beware: the information contained in this post may make you suddenly generate extra cash. This sudden windfall might leave you with a strange feeling of ‘why haven’t I always done this?’

I got my first credit card in my first year of college. There were offers around every corner (something quite disgusting for college students who typically have little wherewithal or knowledge on how to properly manage a credit card), so it was (and is) important to pick a credit card that is right for your lifestyle whether that be mileage benefits, cash rewards, or other rewards programs. At the time, I didn’t even have to provide any documentation showing what my income was in order to determine how much credit I could qualify for. Why is that okay? From the get-go, many companies are setting you up for failure. Why wouldn’t a college student with little income per month not say ‘sure, I’ll take $2,000 of credit!’? ‘It’s okay, I’ll just pay it back when I get that great job’…

My view for the only way to optimally use a credit card is to use it for your regular monthly expenses, earn rewards, and pay it in full at the end of the month. If you instead add expenses and simply make the minimum monthly payment, it would take you YEARS (or even DECADES if you are adding anything to the card each month) to pay it off, and that $1,500 tv that was such a ‘steal’ could end up costing you over $2,800! Since the interest rates that most companies charge are exorbitant (the best rates can be around 9% per year while good rates can still be in the mid-teens), it’s easy to fall victim to credit card companies. Few are designed to actually help the consumer from a long-term perspective, and in fact many keep the consumer indebted for years. When used properly though, you can enhance your savings by gaining some attractive rewards.

Here are ten rules and guidelines my wife and I live by:

1) Do not get a credit card you cannot pay off regularly.

    The expenses and interest you will pay will FAR outpace the benefits you would have otherwise received no matter how enticing the card’s initial terms or rewards. Some of the best cards available for rewards I’ve found are Chase’s Freedom card for cash rewards as well as some of the Citi American Airlines cards for airline rewards. As unique as a budget, not all credit cards are for everyone, and one size does not fit all.

2) Get the card that fits your lifestyle to maximize the benefits.

    Shop ’til you drop. Not for purchases though! Do your research upfront Bankrate.com is a great resource to evaluate different credit card offers). For us, our preference is for cash rewards.

3) Save most (or all) of your rewards.

    If cash rewards are your elixir, when you come across ‘sudden’ money in the form of rewards redeemed, try saving it all (or at least save an equal amount to what you plan to spend). You didn’t have the money yesterday, and you don’t have much control of when it will hit next, so why tack it on as an increase in your lifestyle and living expenses? Once you get accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it is tremendously difficult to take a step back.

4) Stick to your guns.

    If you open a credit card for the rewards, and you plan to close it after the initial teaser reward, then stick to your guns. Pay attention to minimum holding periods (six months for some cards) where the rewards are eliminated if closed within that period of time. This is particularly important for some of the glamorous first time card offers. Especially with some of the bonus airline mileage cards, they have a fee after the first year of the card, which may make the card become unattractive after the grace period.

5) Credit is better than debit.(1)

    Compared to the debit card counterparts, you often have more protection against wrongful purchases and product returns in the event that something doesn’t work as the merchant promised.

6) Find ‘foreign travel’ friendly cards for out of country visits.

    Certain credit cards are ‘foreign travel’ friendly with minimum transaction costs and exchange rate fees. In my experience, Schwab and Capital One have been good companies for travel protection, access, low fees, etc. especially since they both typically reimburse all ATM fees. If you’re traveling out of the country, be mindful of charges for foreign transaction fees and conversion charges. Foreigners are particularly susceptible to identity theft/fraud, and watching your accounts regularly to see if something crops up is important.

7) Cash advances can be dangerous.

    They start charging you interest from the day you take the cash out. As such, use only as a last resort!

8) Try something new: LOWER your credit limit.

    Contact the credit card companies to reduce your available credit amount. Hear a pause at the end of the phone followed by a ‘what is that you say?’ and you will know it’s not a common question they receive. It’s so easy to fall into a trap of having several credit cards: the access to a higher credit limit and other rewards can be intriguing, but it can get you into trouble. If you reduce your credit available, you will have to rely more and more on your personal savings and cash before making a large purchase, but you will find yourself in a much stronger financial position long-term. Our grandparents used to pay for everything with cash (cars, larger down payments on a home, appliances, furniture, etc.), so why not bring cash back into style?

9) Do the math.

    If you are applying for a card with an annual fee, calculate if the rewards for what you regularly purchase more than offset the annual fee compared to other rewards cards. In order for the math to work, sometimes it entails increasing your expenses to make the rewards worthwhile, and that’s precisely the last thing you should do!

10) Easy isn’t always better.

    Credit cards make access to money easy, but when was the last time the easy route was the best route?

The methods outlined above are really only feasible if you have a good handle on what your income AND expenses are each month (see also our relevant posts: How to build a budget and Budgeting: a very good place to start). Then, you really KNOW what you can and cannot afford. Follow the steps of:

      (1) establish an emergency fund,
      (2) eliminate credit card debt, and
      (3) begin saving for your future goals (vacation or retirement).

You will find you are in a much better position to handle the unexpected that invariably comes up.

For some additional references with comparisons of credit cards versus debit cards:
(1) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57365965/4-reasons-to-use-credit-cards-versus-debit-cards/
(1) http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall09/debit_vs_credit.html

The above post was republished with consent by DebtFreeMarriage.org from TheSimplemoneyBlog.com.

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Financial Infidelity in Marriage

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of FINANCIAL INFIDELITY… do you see mine up? YEP. In some form or fashion, we’ve ALL done it.

Here’s the deal.. Financial Infidelity shows up in BIG ways.. and in some small, subtle ways. See if any of these resonate with you.

- A husband JUST finds out that his wife of 5 years has debts from BEFORE they were married, and he NEVER knew about it.
- A wife tells hers kids, “don’t tell daddy about ____”, as she buys them yet ANOTHER toy after her and her husband agreed that the kids have WAAAY too many.
- A husband eats out with his coworkers daily… but his wife thinks he eats out once a week.
- A wife brings home a free puppy or kitten without talking it over with her husband.. It’s cute, but you gotta FEED it!
- A husband tears up the bathroom on a whim with a sledgehammer and starts a big remodeling project, but it wasn’t a planned expense.
- A wife has a closet full of clothes and shoes she purchased without her husbands knowledge.
- A husband, knowing that money is tight, says yes to a trip across the state because he can’t say NO to his wife. He puts on a facade that “Everythings ok” when he knows that they are behind in the bills.

These were just a few examples.. but all are very REAL circumstances that I’ve either witnessed or been a part of. I’ve also used the terms Husbands and Wives a lot in these examples.. because married partners should be 100% accountable to each other. Each time one spouse tells a little white lie, makes a hidden purchase, or buys something without speaking to the other, it UNDERMINES the relationship. If you’re single.. the only person you’re really accountable to is yourself, however once you tie the knot, your finances and your credit will be co-mingled with your spouse. I don’t mean to scare the engaged couple.. after all, two heads are better than one and when you make decisions together, you do it to benefit the both of you.

If you’re currently committing Financial Infidelity.. you may be closing off the person who can help you the most… your SPOUSE!

The wife, who had debt before she got married, it all blew up when she couldn’t pay those “Hidden” bills. When her husband found out.. was he mad? Absolutely.. but then he asked…”Why didn’t you let me know you were in over your head?”. Now he is working to help her pay down the debt.

Who are you hurting the most? Why… it’s YOU!

If you’re married…sit down with your spouse regularly and go over all your finances. Adopt a policy of FULL DISCLOSURE will all your purchases. Then set some goals and work on them together. Accomplishing goals as a partnership will bond you closer together and it is a beautiful thing.

If you’re engaged…make plans to mingle your finances together after you get married and make sure you are BOTH involved in the decision making process. When one spouse controls all the money… it becomes way to tempting to make a hidden purchase here or there while the other has to ASK for money.. this is not wise. All accounts, passwords, bills, and expenses should be shared.

Should each of you have SOME money that you can spend without being accountable? A small amount is fine.. but be careful.. if it causes resentment in your spouse.. you may want to rethink that. I know someone who always spent HIS money on games… and she was spending HER money on HIM.. does that seem fair?

Best thing to do, right now.. it to start being HONEST with your partner. Don’t make big decisions by yourself. Don’t start new projects that cost money without your confidante’s support. Don’t keep your partner in the dark either… if you know something bad is coming (like a potential layoff), don’t let your partner get blindsided by the news or be told by someone else.

Finally, be honest with yourself.

Your comments are welcome!

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