Pinings: Dollars and sense
by Sherry Hughes email@example.com
My boyfriend and I suck with money. We are always scraping to find money for rent, bills, car payments. Both of us work full-time jobs and it doesnít seem as if we have enough fun or buy enough stuff to have so many bills. Itís not like we have a huge amount of debt but we are barely keeping our heads above water. This means we fight all the time about little stuff. We love each other, but it feels like this is really stressing us out.
We are both 25 and have student loans. His car is new, mine is sort of a beater. Weíve thought about getting rid of one and sharing Ö but Iím afraid that will just create new problems. I suggested we ask our parents for small loans, just to make things easier for a while, but he doesnít want to do that.
I think itís normal to struggle financially at some point in your life. It builds character. And I donít mean that to sound trite, because I believe itís true. What you need to look at is whether you are truly bringing in enough money to make ends meet. If you are, Iíd say you are just struggling Ö and you may find a way to trim your spending a bit (get rid of cable? stop eating out?) and see if you have more breathing room. If your monthly debt is higher than your monthly income, however, you really need to start thinking of ways to earn more and/or spend less.
Go over all of your bills with your boyfriend and how much you spend each month. When you do the math, try and look at ways you might come up with more cash in your pocket. Can you spend less on groceries? Gas? Can you go to the dump rather than paying for trash removal? All of the little things add up. If you pare down your cable bill (and trust me, Iíd really struggle with that one, so I know how painful it sounds), you might be able to save $25 or $35, which would pay for Ö.well, pizza and a movie one night or half of another bill or you could just put it away for a rainy day. Itís all about planning and execution. You have to be diligent and serious or else youíll stay in the same pattern.
Money stuff is hard on couples.
Once you establish your priorities (yours and his) and talk about your relationship with money (yours and his) youíll be better equipped to handle the issues and stay out of the boxing ring.
Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org
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