Step 2: Calculate Your Costs
Put a monthly price tag next to each item under the immediate goals category and a general figure next to each of your long-term goals. Some of these items may be consistent (mortgage, newspaper delivery), whereas others may fluctuate greatly (electricity, dinners). Place a guesstimate figure next to any item that you are unsure about.

Next to your long-term goals, consider a total figure you'd like to get to, and then arrive at a monthly figure that you think will get you there. When it comes to items like retirement, remember that the money you set aside will be earning interest, so your monthly figure multiplied by the years until your retirement does not have to add up to your long-range figure. But do the best you can to come close to that long-range figure.

Add up all the individual figures. This is your monthly budget. Both of you should sign and date the bottom of the budget. Don't duck out of this task because you think it is too time consuming, or figure out some other excuse for not gaining control of your spending and your marital finances. The goal here is to find a healthy way of dealing with money. Resist the urge to just smile and say, "All right, let's just do the best we can to spend a little less." You may as well say, "You know, my emotional issues are a little too intense for me on this money thing so I'd rather pretend it away and risk continuing our dysfunctional way of dealing with it than actually taking responsibility for my actions."

The next step: Write down your purchases


Next Story