Monthly Archives: January 2016

Jan 19

6 Tips for Creating a Household Budget

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

6 Tips for Creating a Household BudgetThey say opposites attract, but opposite views on finances can lead to dangerous territory in a marriage.

Many couples run into issues when they realize that one is a saver and the other is a spender.

One of the best ways to help lower financial stress in your marriage is to create a household budget.

Examine All Your Spending Habits

The first step to creating a household budget is to figure out exactly where you and your family are spending money.

When you’re writing down the categories you spend money on, don’t forget to include regular necessities that occur every month, such as groceries, mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, and other loans.

Next, count in variable expenses such as emergency savings, vacations, and money for dining out. Once you’ve accounted for every expense you can think of, subtract the expenses from your household income.

It’s very possible that you’ll end up with a negative number at this point.

Find Categories Where You Can Cut Spending

If you do come up with a negative number, that means you’re spending more than you’re making. While it’s hard to do, you have to go back through your categories and figure out where you can cut spending.

The first categories you need to work with are the recreational ones.

While it’s not enjoyable, cutting back on money spent for vacations and meals out during the short term will help you reach stability in your budget for the long term.

Create a Weekly Budget

After you’ve decided where you can cut expenses, it’s time to create a weekly budget. Weekly budgets are better than monthly ones because they’re easier to create and they leave less room for error.

While you’re creating your weekly budget, don’t forget to plan for emergencies and put aside money for special occasions such as holidays and birthdays.

Make a Plan for Leftover Money

As your budget starts to become firmer, you should start to have some money remaining every month.

While you can certainly spend this money on the recreation categories that you had to cut from earlier, you should plan to save some of that money as well. After all, while one reason for setting a budget is to help you stay in the black, it’s also supposed to help you create a healthy savings.

Whether you invest this money in a mutual fund, add to your savings account, or make an additional contribution to your retirement fund, it’s important to create a plan and stick with it.

If you just let this money sit around, you’re less likely to save it and more likely to spend it.

Pay With Cash

One great way to stick with a budget is to prevent small expenses from adding up.

To do so, figure out how much you spend every week and take out just enough cash to cover those expenses. When you use cash to cover discretionary expenses, it’s easier to prevent overspending than with a debit card or credit card, where small expenses can add up before you even realize it.

When you see that you won’t have much cash left if you get that extra cup of coffee in the morning, you’re more likely to skip buying items that you don’t really need.

Sign Up With a Budget Website

If you’d like an online tool to help you create and balance your household budget, consider signing up for a website like or You Need A Budget.

To begin on this free money-management website, simply use a device like one of the best 2-in-1 laptops from Lenovo to link all your financial accounts. Since these PCs can convert into a laptop, tent, stand, or tablet, it’s easy to use these powerful tools to help you manage your money, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Simply add your expenses in typical categories, including gas, groceries, and credit card payments and create a budget around your spending patterns.

To help prevent financial issues from entering your marriage and causing stress, it’s important to work together to create and follow a budget.

Use these tips to make your own household budget and see how you can change your spending and saving habits.


(photo credit)

Jan 18

When Did You Stop Nurturing Sex in Your Marriage?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

lack of sexRecently, there was a big fire in a treasured old building in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

I wrote a blog post about it here (I used the fire as an illustration for vital lessons for marriages struggling sexually).

Today I again want to use the fire as an illustration.

As is the case with most fires, the investigation after the recent Omaha fire primarily was about figuring out how and where it first started.

Fire investigators try, often successfully, to trace everything back to a source. A starting point. A trigger.

By working backward, they can figure out how to move forward – either to make sure whatever went wrong doesn’t happen again OR to solve mysteries that are hidden way back at the source.

“Uh, what exactly does this have to do with sex?!” you’re probably wondering.

Quite a bit, actually.

The longer I speak and write about sex and hear countless stories about marriages struggling sexually, the more intrigued I am about how and where the struggles began.

I used to want to jump quicker into talking solution, but not so much now.

Now I want to know the back story.

When did these sexual problems start? Why do you think they started? I dig through the rubble for the source, the starting point, the trigger.

Sure, in the headline, I ask, “When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?” But I just as easily could have asked…

“When did you start refusing sex?”

“Why did sex become boring?”

“When did you start disagreeing about sexual frequency?”

“Why is sex always a battle ground now?”

Anyway. You get the picture, right?

It’s really hard to find solutions to sexual struggles if we don’t at least have some framework to look closer at the problem in the beginning.

Truth be told, a lot of people just don’t want to do that.

Because it is exhausting and tedious work – to lift and sift through the boulders and shards of relational turmoil.

Sometimes, what’s going on couldn’t even be classified as turmoil. It often goes by it’s more common name – “life.”

“Life got crazy busy. We had soccer practice. And that job promotion. And the furnace went out. And then our teenagers had to study for the ACT. And don’t even get me started about the problems we had with the car.”

I meet and hear from so many people whose sexual intimacy is anything but intimate (and certainly not frequent), and they drifted to that reality long ago.

That sexual drift – away from intimacy – likely was trigged by something.

Maybe that something was  intense on the relationship Richter scale, like a porn addiction or adultery.

Or maybe that something was less dramatic, like a rogue calendar or added responsibilities at work or slowly mounting financial struggles.

Something, though, began sabotaging the sexual relationship.

If that describes your marriage, I pose the question again:

When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?  Think for a moment.  Can you find the how and where?

When you find the how and wherethe source, the starting point, the trigger — it is easier to find a solution.  (Notice I said easier, not easy, because solving sexual struggles takes hard work and heart work).

But your marriage is worth it.  It is so worth it. And nurtured sexual intimacy is worth it.  When we learn why destructive fires start, we are better equipped to keep them from doing more damage in the future.

For more reading, consider the insight found in the post Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

Jan 05

How I Fought To Save My Marriage and Won

By Dustin | Help

How I Fought To Save My Marriage...And WonIf you and your husband decide to a trial separation, just be prepared for comments from others.

They will assume.

They will worry.

Most of all, they will not know the right things to say.

They will think of only two no-no words: marriage problems.

Not that it’s any of their business.

You’re simply telling them so they won’t have to hear it from someone else, or figure it out, or for there to be an awkward situation later.

If you do have a separation, just make sure to coach the people you tell; you can tell them it’s temporary, and that you still love each other.

Separating to Save Your Marriage?

You don’t know where it will lead, but you do know it’s right for you and your relationship.

Because what you’re really doing is giving each other space so you can come together in a new and better way.

You’re not giving up, but instead giving each other a chance.

No matter how it appears to other people, don’t let that deter you from the ultimate goal—saving your marriage.

When Being Apart Helps You Come Together

Annie and her husband agreed to a separation.

It was mostly his idea, and a time for him to really explore who he was and get through some personal issues. Sometimes, as Annie learned, separation isn’t 100% because you don’t want to be married, but rather that you need to relearn how to be yourself.

So that’s what they did.

With big things looming on the horizons—financial issues, the possibility of having children—for them the break was worthwhile. They could think.

It was lonely at times, and confusing at times. That is to be expected. But Annie said being apart made them come together.

Keep Dating While Apart?

One thing they did right: they kept dating.

They’d eat out together and talk. And this is when they would blurt it all out.

Their lists. What they loved about each other, and what they hated about each other.

They laid it all out on the table, so to speak. Those sorts of things are always hard to hear, but sometimes very necessary in order to get unstuck.

They had been stuck, but now they had the beginnings of saving the marriage.

When Marriage Separation Should Be An Option

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how strong your marriage was in the past, all marriages go through ups and downs. If your marriage is in a continual down, then maybe marriage separation could be the option that helps you get past it.

It worked for Annie and her husband. They went to couples therapy, and they each spent alone time in therapy.

Having a third party experienced in this sort of thing really helps to reassure and propel each spouse into realizing that things like this happen. No, you’re not the only one who feels this way. And it doesn’t have to end for you to be happy.

Annie was scared that her husband did or would have an affair, since he knew there was a woman he worked with who really got along well with him, and was everything she wasn’t.

But he was willing to work on things. He was trying and not hiding anything. So she let those thoughts go.

Sometimes, however, when they met to talk he would change his story. He’d talk about how he loved her and wanted to get back together; other times he’d say that they weren’t meant to be and it was time to break things off for good.

Really, deep inside he was hurting and confused himself. What he needed to know was how much she wanted it, too.

So Annie did what any woman in love would do—she fought for her marriage…. and won.

Happily Ever After?

They started to cuddle, hold hands, and be intimate more. It was less mechanic and more loving.

They started being less selfish by focusing on themselves, and putting more stock into the other person instead. It worked wonders.

By doing that, they unconditionally loved each other, faults and all, and expected less of each other. In the same breath, they each worked harder on what they could control—themselves.

Annie worked on her faults, and her husband worked on his.

The only thing that couples who separate truly regret is not trying harder to save the marriage sooner.

It seems as if marriage is just there, and it should sustain itself. But that’s not true.

It takes constant effort of nurturing love. Both parties must focus on what is truly important—each other.

Finally, Annie’s husband moved back in. It wasn’t easy, but things were definitely better. They kept going to couples therapy, and now they appreciated each other more. They realized what they could have lost, but were willing to fight for.

In this case, it was worth the fight for both of them. Because in the end, they won each other.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).