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Sharon Levin

Marriage and Money – Can we talk about this without stressing?

Let’s start off by saying that money isn’t an easy topic to discuss. Managing a family budget is a task that needs effort and is usually stressful. Especially when the decision to deal with it is because of debts or financial distress. The difficulty highlights the challenge not only to reflect on our financial habits but also how we, as a couple, make financial decisions and how it effects our family.

To build a family budget and manage finances, we, as a couple, need to discuss this. Pa’amonim recommends how to do this successfully:

Talk about it – Have an open dialogue, include all the financial aspects, listen to each other and make sure the individual needs of all members of the family are met. Decide what is more or less important to you and discuss this together, as you will have to decide how much to budget each expense in accordance with your values and your way of life. If you have children, do the same, so that you can decide how much to budget for their various activities.  If they are old enough, include them in the process.

Take personal responsibility for your expenses and not for your spouses’ ones. Do the best you can to be smart in places where you know you are prone to spend.

Live by your means – Adjust your way of life and standards to your means. Check that your income covers all your expenses. Pa’amonim has a detailed excel on their website to help you do this.

Divide assignments clearly. Using each ones’ strengths can help joint decision-making.

Set family goals and mutual dreams that you want to achieve.

Decide how to manage your bank accounts – Decide together which of these three options are best for you, as there are pros and cons for each choice:  Owning a private account each, a joint one or having a joint one for joint expenses with a personal one for each spouse.

Be realistic – Make sure you aren’t hard or too lenient on yourselves. Making tough or easy financial decisions can be disappointing, as they can be non-realistic in the end. So, with each decision to cut back on expenses or to increase income, make sure you can implement them.

Be active and keep learning – our life evolves and changes over the years and with that so do our financial commitments and priorities. Adjust the budget as you go, so that it matches your changing needs.

Creating a family budget will bring a new reality. Many times it may take one, more time to adjust and digest the decision making process to lead the family to financial independence.

For further guidance and money management tools visit Paamonims’ website where if needed you can apply for personal financial counselling or take a course together.

About the Author
Sharon Levin has an M.A. in Public Policy and is a certified Group Facilitator. She has worked for Paamonim since 2009, lead roles include Regional Director responsible for Paamonim's volunteers who provide free one-on-one financial counseling. As Director of Group Activities, she headed the establishment of Paamonim College for Financial Education, offering courses, programs, and lectures teaching financial fundamentals to participants, all geared towards helping people acquire financial education for better living.
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