SOURCE: Take Charge America

June 10, 2008 13:52 ET

Take Charge America Offers Financial Tips for Engaged Couples

Organization's "Budget Doctor" Has Advice for Husbands- and Wives-to-Be

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - June 10, 2008) - Take Charge America, the nation's leading non-profit financial education organization, is offering couples tips on how to successfully merge their money before marriage and is encouraging all fiancés to take a few financial steps before walking down the aisle.

"Before couples wed this summer, they should take a step back and discuss all details of their financial past and future," said Mike Sullivan, director of education and "Budget Doctor" at Take Charge America. "The scary fact is that the number one cause for divorce is money, so determining financial compatibility should be at the top of every busy couple's to-do list."

Sullivan notes that all couples can greatly benefit from delving into the often undisclosed details of spending habits and perspectives on finances. If the outcome is unsettling, it may be beneficial to consult a credit counseling or debt management service before the big day. Take Charge America offers many such programs, and qualified counselors can be reached at 1-800-823-7396. In addition, Sullivan offers the following suggestions for developing -- and maintaining -- a happy and healthy financial marriage:

1.   Exchange credit reports - Couples should order a free copy of their
     credit reports (www.annualcreditreport.com) to share with one another,
     so there are no secrets regarding credit history that may affect big
     purchases they are likely to make in the near future. Be aware that
     one partner's credit report is likely to be better than the other's.
     Each partner should write down expectations and set a date to wed
     after their credit reports meet those expectations. After seeing
     results, go ahead and get hitched! And even after the wedding, couples
     should do a quarterly review of credit reports and expect progress.

2.   Establish financial compatibility - Explore financial likes and
     differences. One partner may be a free spender, while the other is
     frugal. Learn these differences and discuss them openly to try to
     understand your partner's perspective and find a middle ground.

3.   Communicate openly - Clearly and directly express any money concerns
     from day one. Don't be afraid to have an unpleasant discussion now, as
     it may mean avoiding a lifetime of frustration and arguments. A
     marriage should be able to withstand a few honest criticisms, so get
     them out of the way before you say "I do."

4.   Make a reasonable budget together - After you've shared all your
     financials and communicated through your issues, create a livable
     budget. Have a plan for spending and saving and stick to it. Discuss
     your future goals, and how you plan to finance what isn't free. Hold
     regular check-ins to go over your finances and discuss issues openly
     on a regular basis. That way, both partners are on the same page and
     are working toward the same end.

"Deal with money issues just as you would any relationship issue," said Sullivan. "Have a plan, a purpose and a commitment. As long as you communicate your expectations and needs, you can work through issues -- your marriage is worth the investment."

ABOUT TAKE CHARGE AMERICA

Founded in 1987, Take Charge America is currently celebrating more than 20 years of service as one of the country's largest non-profit financial education and consumer debt service organizations. Through education, customized credit counseling and debt management, Take Charge America helps consumers achieve self-reliance, financial stability and financial freedom. Take Charge America is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, a national membership organization established to promote quality and consistent delivery of credit counseling services. In 2006, the organization received the Better Business Bureau Ethics Award in recognition of its business ethics and integrity in the marketplace. To learn more about the organization or its programs, please call 1-800-823-7396 or visit www.takechargeamerica.org.

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