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Ask Dave

Lost and overwhelmed

Sometimes saving isn't a budgeting issue. It can also be an income problem.

QUESTION: Adrienne and her fiancé are having trouble saving up for a $1,000 beginner emergency fund. With a little digging, Dave discovers the root of the problem.

ANSWER: First, your finances should be separate until you’re married. There’s shouldn’t be a “we” in terms of money at this point. You can always run a single budget to look at and prepare for after you’re married, but right now he shouldn’t be paying your bills and you shouldn’t be paying his bills.

The biggest problem is that he’s making no money. He needs to get a better job. He can’t pay his bills, and in the process, he’s sucking you dry. He needs to make a serious career shift soon—like now! In the meantime, this guy needs to take on two or three part-time jobs until he gets that career shifted.

It’s not really a budgeting problem you’re looking at. It’s an income issue.