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Love, Sex & Money: How Debt Makes a Mess of It

We all know the drill: We go out and buy something—maybe something expensive—just praying that our partner isn’t spending too. Then, we he comes home with whatever new credit-purchased toy he’s bought, the spitting match begins.

“What are your doing? We don’t need that!” You yell at him. “And who said you need three new cashmere sweaters for $500.00? Give me a break!” he yells back at you. And worse yet, neither one of you knows what you’re spending on groceries, dry cleaning, lunches and coffee out—all of the daily stuff—or whether or not you can really afford $27.00 shampoo or $19.00 a pound shrimp for dinner. But you’re spending anyway.

No clarity. No idea who’s spending what. Lots of purchases on credit cards. No accountability between you two, and no one’s minding the checkbook. Or one of you handles the money and is holding it over the head of the other. And guess what? All of that is a recipe for disaster.

More than any other thing in a relationship, debt-pressure will kill your sex life. It will beat out of you all the respect you have for yourself and your partner, and in short order, will have you both treating each other like petulant children.

And that won’t, by a longshot, make you hot for each other. It will block the door to your bedroom like the elephant that unaddressed debt is, and kill your longing and your desire in the process.

Here’s what will work:

Have a spending plan—meaning you need to PLAN what you have to spend each month before your spend it. Decide who pays which bills and be accountable to pay them on time. Then set aside a bit of cash for some savings—we use multiple savings accounts at a credit union, so we have accounts for car repairs, vacation, new computer, medical, CD recording fund, and more. (They’re free at a credit union, but not at regular banks.)

Next, create an amount for each of your Daily Needs, and hand over that money to each partner. In our house, we keep two separate checking accounts which keeps us on track with our own money each month. We don’t go our spending hoping the other person isn’t.

Then, get a small notebook or use your notes app and create a page for each category of your daily spending. For instance, Food $400.00, Lunches, $200.00, Fuel $260.00, etc. Keep the categories simple. No more than 10-12. Deduct each time you spend.

You go over in one category, adjust from another category. Be accountable.

By doing this, we took the money stress out of our relationship for good. In eight years we’ve never had a fight about money. Money decisions, yes—but no money drama. That’s the pay0ff for getting a spending plan. And, at the end of the month, if my husband has $30 extra bucks in his fuel category, it’s his to spend. If I didn’t spend all my dry cleaning money, I can spend it on whatever I like. It’s mine to manage.

This simple adjustment in the way we spend cash as couples has the power to revolutionize the way we feel about each other. We look at our partner with more respect, more warmth, and no angst.

And that, all by itself, can blaze a path to the bedroom with not one damn thing in the way.

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