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.