• Like a bad penny, debt always turns up…

    unless we change how we interact with money, of course!

    The Bad Penny is dedicated to two pursuits: getting out of debt and staying out of debt! It recognizes that frugality and caring for our planet go hand in hand, and that our unsatiated need for stuff is hurting us in so many ways.

    Easier said than done!


    I am not a finance professional. I write about the world as I know it, and my advice may not be the best course of action for you! Please seek qualified advice for your particular situation.

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Money Marriage

I’ve read that one of the biggest challenges for any marriage or partnership is money. If you are married, that comes as no surprise! After all, money is one of those things that permeates nearly every aspect of our lives.

Even after being married seven-and-a-half years, my husband and I still fight about money – usually when one of us doesn’t like the way the other spent it! In fact, it is because of this that we’ve laid some ground rules I think are important for any couple:

1. Allowances. Each month we each get a portion of the paycheck for our own discretionary spending. We can spend it on anything we want, and the other person isn’t allowed to say a word about it. In the past we haven’t had much money, so it’s been $40 a month. Lately, we’ve had even less, so we are currently getting $20.

It’s not a lot of money, but it’s enough that we don’t feel deprived if we want to buy a soda when we’re out and about or more yarn for me!

2. The $50 rule. Any time we want to buy an item more than $50 out of the household budget, our rule is that we have to talk to the other person. There are some exceptions – if I’m buying a lot of groceries, for example. Or paying bills.

This has been very helpful to make sure both of us know what is being spent! In fact, it has come to the point that we discuss nearly every purchase that comes out of the family budget – groceries being the exception, again.

3. The 24-hour rule. Along with discussing expensive purchases, we buy very little without waiting 24 hours to do it. Many times, by not buying an item on impulse, we’ve saved money – we waited until the item went on sale, or we found a better price elsewhere. We’ve saved the most money when we’ve realized we didn’t really want to buy it after all!

4. Read contracts closely and be picky about wording. In the past couple years, we’ve had several companies who didn’t keep up with their end of the contract. One of these companies gave us a terribly written contract that we signed. When they didn’t do the work, it ended up costing us, although we did get about 60% of our money back. The rest is reflected as about $1000 in credit card debt, plus interest for the past 3 years. If we had refused the shoddy contract for a better one, we may have been able to get it all back.

There are other important considerations, too, that aren’t specifically rules for the household :

1. As young(er) adults, we realize we’re not going to have everything our parents have, and we don’t expect to. We have old appliances, old hand-me-down cars, and Walmart clothes. Our parents have spent years building up a quality wardrobe and maintaining their appliances so they’ll last. Not to mention they’ve been working in their fields for years, so they make a lot more than us!

We can’t expect right off the bat to maintain the same standard of living on well less than half of what one of them makes! (Incidentally, this was very hard for us to understand early in our marriage. Thankfully, we didn’t manage to run up debt then!)

2. We need to continually plan for the future – paying down our debt, saving for big ticket items (instead of charging them) and saving for retirement and college.

I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of them right now. Anyone else have some ideas for this list?