The Kitchen Table
Most couples can’t bring themselves to talk about money. People find it easier to talk about sex than about finances. Indeed the number one cause for divorce in America is money.
With many facing the worst economic crisis in a generation, there is no better time to open up communications with your loved one than now. As politicians remind us daily, kitchen table issues have taken center stage. It’s time to prioritize which financial goals are most important to you and your family both now and down the road. If you have debts to pay off, which ones should be at the top of the pile and how can you get your spending under control? If you have kids, how much should you put aside each month for college? And then there’s the biggest challenge out there of all: saving for retirement. If we struggle to make ends meet now, how are we supposed to put money aside for those golden years? Most people I talk to feel that planning for retirement is a luxury that they’ll think about after the kids have left the nest. But what if your health declines and working until your eighty isn’t an option?
Talking about these issues isn’t easy. But avoidance isn’t the answer. Collectively, we Americans have lived beyond our means for the better part of two decades. And collectively, we can no longer avoid this national conversation. It’s becoming harder to get a mortgage and credit card companies are starting to slash credit lines and tighten lending standards. Across the country, people are being forced to live within their means.
So get ahead of the curve. Sit down with your partner and make a list of your goals, both short and long term. Then talk about the dreaded “b” word: budget. You may want to differentiate between what you need for survival and discretionary spending. One of the first items in your budget should be savings. Even if you can spare only a few dollars a week, put them aside for your future. Couples that learn how to save together are far more likely to stay together.