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Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples Paperback – March 15, 2011
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From the Back Cover
Financial expert Matt Bell shows you the way. This book will help you make the most of each other’s financial strengths, teaching you how to work together to build a solid financial future. Through a ten-step action plan, you’ll learn how to prioritize goals, get out of debt, build savings, invest wisely, buy a house, and much more—all in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes unity. With this essential guide, you’ll avoid the pitfalls and place yourselves on the path to financial success.
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This book is essentially Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University summarized and targeted more to those who are engaged or newlywed. Bell includes the same essential "baby steps" of building an emergency fund, doing a debt snowball (smallest to largest), instead calling it an "accelerator," the envelope system, and the same allocated spending plan. Many of the quotes and stats in the book are also cited by Ramsey, but Bell gives Ramsey no credit, claiming he learned most of it third-hand from mentors in the afterword. For that, I ding him a star. But practically speaking, I recommend this book over the Ramsey course itself as it's cheaper and takes less time to go through.
One difference is he includes a chapter on identifying your temperament, filling out a personality survey (choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy) and giving some general advice on dealing with a spouse of a particular type. The end of the book he recommends Emerson Eggerich's Love and Respect to married couples, and I concur.
I mostly liked how he talked about being generous in giving to a local church. I do not agree with one of the reviews on Amazon that this is "prosperity gospel" teaching, Bell simply writes:
"there is an unmistakable promise seen throughout the pages of Scripture that blessings flow from generosity motivated by a grateful heart. Some people trace material blessings to their generosity. Others have experienced a closer relationship with God...The Bible teaches that the main reason God enables us to prosper is so that we will grow in generosity: 'You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11)'" (loc. 1083). Bell doesn't promise prosperity as a result of generosity.
His approach to budgeting are summed here:
"Use a plan to guide your finances; work as if working for the Lord; give generously to help spread the gospel, alleviate the suffering of the poor, and support those who teach God’s Word; save adequately; avoid the bondage of debt; maintain a good name by managing your credit score; invest patiently; anticipate danger by building walls of protection; and spend wisely" (loc. 2627).
3.5 stars out of 5.
The book goes in depth talking about money and marriage, discussing all of the things that young couples and those who have been married for years should know, and talk about, when it comes to money. Some of the things you'll find:
- How we come to our views of money: How we've been influenced by family, by culture, by our experiences and how that can skew our thinking about money.
- How our individual personalities can affect how we view, spend and interact with money and our spouse.
- It talks about the importance of having goals, and a financial plan together as a couple.
- It goes over budgeting and creating a cash flow plan, and includes links to the author's website where you can download updated versions of budget spreadsheets.
- The book is meant to be read along with your spouse, and at the end of each chapter there are action points, and several questions to talk about together. I've found it's very helpful for getting the discussion going.
- Discussions of debt, how to avoid it, how to get rid of it, and how to manage your credit.
- Examines other key issues including housing, planning ahead for a rainy day, spending smart and getting organized.
There is a lot more in the book that I can't cover here, but it really is a great book to pickup, especially if you're having money troubles, are soon to be married, or if you're an old married couple and you want a refresher course on budgeting and setting up a cash flow plan.
Money and marriage can be a minefield, but this book will help you to identify and defuse any potential landmines, before it's too late.
p.s. Some here have complained that the book comes from a Christian viewpoint, or that the author quotes scripture in the book. I didn't find that to be a problem as the book isn't preachy, and the verses that were included were common sense bible verses that are applicable to anyone both Christians and non-Christians alike. Also, you would think the fact that the book is categorized in the Christian Living > Stewardship and Personal Finance > Money & Values sections may have been a clue that the author has a Christian viewpoint. In any event, it doesn't detract from the sound financial advice included in the book, and I don't think it should keep anyone from buying.
I would highly recommend this book to all engaged couples, and any married couple that needs a fresh start on their finances. I have read about, and even taught many of the principles in this book, and I still found the presentation fresh and helpful. The section on estate planning was especially useful personally, as my husband and I need to do that!
As far as the Bible quotes being an attempt to 'convert,' if you don't find them helpful, don't read them. Focus on the principles and not the quotes. If you prefer to support secular (non-religious) organizations, by all means, support them. But, would you be as offended by someone suggesting you support a secular cause that you don't choose to support as some of you have been over the author recommending 'religious' causes? Just a thought...
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