Unity is key in money, marriage

Dear Dave,

Does it matter whether it’s the husband or the wife who keeps the checkbook and pays the bills? Lots of people say that kind of thing is the man’s job, but I was curious about what you think.

Daniel Dear Daniel,

I don’t think it matters one bit, and here’s why.

In each family there’s a nerd and a free spirit. The nerd is good at keeping track of things and putting everything in its place. The free spirit is just the opposite. They are not detail-oriented. Now, this doesn’t make them irresponsible or mean that they don’t care. It’s just that they aren’t blessed with a gift for administration. They want things to be good and right just as much as the nerd, but they don’t necessarily get a rush when the checkbook balances out.

Just because the nerd keeps the checkbook doesn’t mean he or she gets to make all the financial decisions, either. In a marriage, those decisions should be made together with input from both the husband and wife. Remember, God didn’t unite some kind of joint business venture. He made you as one — together. When you do a budget each month, you should both sit down and come to a mature, reasonable and respectful agreement on where the money’s going.

So, when it comes down to the act of keeping the checkbook, I think whoever is the more organized of the two should handle this duty. But if you include these other principles, you’ll experience more unity in your daily lives together and have better communication in your marriage!

—Dave

Downsizing house to get out of debt?

Dear Dave,

Is it ever a good idea to sell your home and buy a smaller, less expensive one in order to get out of debt more quickly?

Autumn Dear Autumn,

It’s a good idea in some situations. If you don’t really like the house, or maybe you were thinking about selling it anyway, then I’d say go for it. It would also be a smart move if you simply have too much house and the payments are eating you alive.

I usually recommend that your monthly mor tgage payment or rent be no more than 25 percent of your take-home pay. If your house payments are taking 40 to 50 percent of this figure, then it’s time to unload the house.

But selling your home can be a tough thing emotionally. I’d never advise someone to sell the place they love and move down in house if their payment is reasonable. In these situations there are usually other areas where you can cut back, keep your home, and still get out of debt in a reasonable amount of time.

—Dave


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