Deciding how you're going to handle money in your marriage is a discussion that needs to take place well before the wedding. Too many couples walk into matrimony without any kind of financial plan in mind. Each will have their own view of how it should be done, and they may be miles apart in their methods, or they may not have any method at all. The sooner the money discussion is had the better. If you're married and still searching for financial unity, this is the time to get serious and make it happen. Too much is at stake not to have a plan.

Here are seven tips to help you master your money

1. Be completely open with each other

Show on paper how much monthly income you have. Be honest and transparent - no hidden accounts. Both partners need to know what money is available for the family.

2. Create a workable budget

. Start with how much money you have coming in each month, allot how much will go to your savings, rent or mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, medical expenses, church, transportation, and other needs. Be specific and realistic. Allot a little money for fun. Couples need to enjoy each other and plan for date nights. These don't have to be expensive - even a few dollars can buy an evening out for ice cream. Put it in the budget.

Also, allow for each partner to have a small amount of cash to do with whatever they please. If one wants to spend it and one wants to save it that's their personal choice. The decision of how much this will be is a joint decision. If your budget is tight it may be as little as $5. Each needs to have some pocket money.

3. Decide who will be the most dependable one to pay the bills

Paying bills on time will save the additional expense of late fees and bad credit. In all money matters, couples must work together as they decide where the money will go.

4. Live on less than you earn

Buy only what you can pay for. If you charge something because you don't have the money for it right now you will end up paying much more for it in the end. Interest never stops robbing you. Save and pay cash.

5. Create savings accounts

Always pay yourself first, then everyone else. One young couple on a limited income said, "I don't know how anyone can not have a savings account. What do they do when their car needs repair or some other unforeseen expense comes along?" It's good to have savings accounts for different purposes: car expenses, medical expenses, household repairs, vacations, etc. Another couple explained their method of saving: "We have several different savings accounts, each with their own purpose. Every month we contribute to these accounts. Sometimes it's only $5 or $10, or more when we can, but always a few dollars go into these accounts. It's amazing how quickly they grow, and then when we need the money it's there."

6. Stay out of debt

There a very few things that warrant going into debt for. It may be a house or a car. Just make sure they are not beyond your income. Buying a large house can be a financial killer. You don't know what the future holds. Buy what you can reasonably afford - same with a car. Many smart buyers purchase good reliable used cars, preferably with a warranty still in force. In these large purchases always take into consideration the cost of insurance and upkeep. Be wise.

If you are in debt we suggest you follow financial guru Dave Ramsey's method of eliminating debt: pay the minimum payment of every debt, adding a few extra dollars (as much as you can) to the principle of the smallest debt. When that is paid off take the amount you've been paying on it monthly and add it to the next smallest debt. When that's paid off, go to the next, then the next, until all are paid off. Too often when people pay off a debt they think, "Hooray, now I have extra money to spend!" With that attitude you will be eaten alive with interest. As soon as possible get rid of all your debt. That's what's worth celebrating. It's called financial freedom.

7. Be trustworthy

Knowing you can trust each other with family money is vital to a happy marriage. There is no place for selfish or secret spending. There is a place for planning together to help each other save for things that matter to your spouse. It's fun to see your mate have something he or she has been wishing for. You just need to make it part of the plan.

Be the joint masters of your money and it can bring peace and security to you and your family. Our philosophy is: Don't spend your future; plan for your future and enjoy security today.

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