Hi, I'm Jim, and I'm a financial nincompoop.
I make a decent salary. We live in a nice house, have plenty to eat, dress well, and go on vacation every year. We don't live extravagantly. So how come we never get ahead financially? And how come new expenses—such as jacked-up car insurance because our oldest son has started driving—have thrown us into a tailspin?
If you can't relate to any of this, set this magazine aside and light another cigar with a $100 bill. But I suspect our financial life isn't much different from yours. We're average, and though we don't look it, we're basically broke.
My quest to get a handle on our family's finances led me to two money experts: Neil Atkinson, author of The Shrewd Christian: You Can't Have It All, but You Can Have More Than Enough, and Dave Ramsey, syndicated radio talk-show host and author of several best-selling books about mastering money. Both agree that financial pain can be a good thing if it forces you and your spouse to look seriously at your finances for the first time in … how long?
Here are two of their "magic money" secrets revealed. While neither step promises to be pain-free, both will energize your marriage.
Secret 1: Get out of debt
Many couples are financially paralyzed by credit card debt and car loans. They make only minimum payments and have given up the idea that they'll ever crawl out of the hole. They're one missed paycheck or unforeseen expense from disaster.