Jean Chatzky
One of the keys to making your marriage work is seeing eye-to-eye on money issues. Jean counsels Kathleen and Bill, a couple struggling to stick to the Debt Diet and pay down nearly $30,000 in debt. Married three years, Kathleen and Bill say they have a hard time sticking to a budget, and end up spending about $300 more than they earn each month. So where is the money going? Kathleen says Bill's ever-growing comic book and toy collections are sinking them into the red. Bill defends his hobbies, saying he only spends about $80 each month on them.

To get to the bottom of Kathleen and Bill's disappearing cash, Jean offers the following advice:

  • Figure out how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Kathleen and Bill have a monthly income of $3,722, but discover they are spending between $3,900 and $4,000 each month.
  • Switch to a cash-only system and track your spending—honestly—by writing down every dollar you spend. Then, Jean says Kathleen and Bill need to regroup once or twice a week and compare notes.
  • Find ways to spend less. Bill comes up with three ways he can limit his spending right off-the-bat: quit smoking, buy less beer and cut back on junk food.
  • Work together as a team. Jean says Kathleen and Bill need to get on the same page if they want what's best for their marriage and their financial future.
The information provided here is general advice and you should always consult your own financial adviser before making major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.

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