Dave Says Column

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It takes two

Dear Dave,
My husband has an old car that has become a real sticking point between us. He bought it for $2,400, and it needs about $4,000 in repairs and restoration. Together, we bring home $50,000 a year, and I feel like this car is interfering with our ability to save money and pay off $35,000 in debt. We already have two decent cars we drive to work, so what should I do about this?
Stacy

Dear Stacy,
There are lots of guys out there who like shiny toys — especially cars. I get it, because I’m one of them. But these kinds of things are luxuries, and stuff like this should wait until the household and finances are in order. The family should always come first.

Dumping money into this while you two are struggling financially doesn’t make sense. On top of that, it’s causing problems between you two on a deeper level. I’m sure your husband isn’t a bad guy, so try sitting down with him and explaining how it makes you feel. Let him know what it’s doing to your finances and your marriage. You might even write the financial side down, so he can see exactly what kind of shape you two are in and where the money is going.

Once you do this in a kind, but concerned, manner, it may be a real eye-opener for him. On top of that, you might consider giving him a little incentive to get on board with the idea of getting your finances in order. Suggest that once the debt is gone, and you’ve got some savings in place, there might be a little extra cash on hand to help get that car up and running.

Good luck, Stacy!
—Dave

Postpone the marriage?

Dear Dave,
My fiancé and I are planning to be married in less than a year. We’ve both been through your class at church, and the other night we started wondering if we should wait to have the wedding until we’re both completely debt-free. Would you give us your opinion?
Michelle

Dear Michelle,
Congratulations! I hope you two will have long and happy lives together.

To answer your question, I don’t think there’s a reason to wait. When two people know they really love each other, they should get married whenever they feel in their hearts the time is right.

At this point, you shouldn’t be thinking about money as anything except an indicator of where you’re going. It doesn’t matter who got into debt or how, because everyone makes mistakes. But if you’re both serious about getting out of debt, living on less than you make, and are in agreement about how the dollars are going to be handled, then — where money is concerned — you’re ready to be married.

Many relationship experts say if a couple can agree on four important things — kids, money, religion, and how to handle the in-laws — they have a great statistical chance of a happy marriage. I believe this, too. And make sure you meet with your pastor for some good, pre-marital counseling before the big day. With all this going for you, I think you two will be okay.

God bless you both!
—Dave