Debt is definitely a bad four-letter-word!  Statistics published by NerdWallet, Inc. suggest that the average household has credit card balances of $16,748.  The average household with any kind of debt owes $134,643, including mortgages.

The strain of debt puts an inordinate amount of strmoney-and-marriage.jpgess on a marriage, especially when coupled with the everyday stressors of marriage such as raising children, caring for elderly parents, career changes, occupational stress, and retirement planning.  As a result, many marriages end in divorce, exacerbated by family debt.

Many couples have discovered that by following some proactive steps, they have eliminated much of the problems associated with being in debt.

Suggestions for proactive financial responsibility:

  • Both parties must be active participants in the ongoing financial process.
  • Discuss finances with your spouse frequently (at least weekly).
  • Agree upon ground rules for credit and debit card usage.
  • Create a system for tracking your purchases.
  • Inform spouse of large purchases and increasing balances.
  • Monitor your balance frequently (at least weekly).
  • Elect to have your credit card company send you phone notification after someone makes a purchase.
  • Close credit cards that are rarely used.
  • When closing an account, do so in writing, and get a closing confirmation notice
  • Monitor you credit rating.imgres.jpg
  • Pay your bills in a timely manner.

Never ignore a credit card bill!

Suggestions for attacking debt:

  • Using cash makes you more aware of what you are spending.
  • Cut all necessary spending.
  • Stop expensive hobbies, habits and travel.
  • Learn to cook, plan budget meals, take your lunch to work, eat at home.
  • Consider a 2nd
  • Sell unnecessary possessions – boats, campers, club memberships…
  • Consign rarely worn clothes and household items.
  • Pay off smallest credit cards first.
  • Don’t buy new cars or new furniture….
  • Repair what you can before considering replacing.
  • Check your account for electronic withdrawals (phone bills, online memberships…)
  • Stop all unnecessary automatic withdrawals.
  • Consider TV options- cable vs. digital receiver; public radio vs. satellite radio
  • Control your thermometer (heating and cooling).
  • Unplug any appliances that you do not use regularly. (printers, computers…)
  • If you must shop for clothing, shop consignment stores.
  • Shop off-brands and wholesale grocery stores.
  • Clip coupons, watch sale papers, and accept free samples.
  • Resist shopping online, watching digital shopping networks, and window shopping.
  • Take good care of what you have, it needs to last!
  • Before you buy, determine if it is a want or a NEED.money-bag-clip-art-bag_of_money.png

Keep some money for an emergency fund.

Extra funds are to be paid toward credit card bills.

There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from paying all of your debt.

Karen Diane Reed, LPCC

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