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In a world where out-of-hand credit led to one the worst financial crisis ever experienced by the global village.

This is the same out-of-hand credit is presently taking the Caribbean by storm, banks in the Caribbean who were once very reluctant in issuing credit cards likewise debit card to just anyone – nowadays anyone with a job is pre-approved for one of these cards.

The fact of the matter is, almost 75% of the people who apply for these credit, debit or charge cards have no clue how these cards work and then after a couple of years find themselves in a debt – trying desperately to keep up with the minimum payments. It’s time for a little personal finance 101.

One of my favorite personal finance weblog ‘The Simple Dollar’ take a beginner’s look at the pros and cons of three kinds of plastic: charge cards, debit cards, and credit cards – explaining the differences between each, including the advantages and disadvantage of each payment method. For example:

Charge cards are often confused with credit cards, but they actually function in a fairly different fashion. Like credit cards, charge cards extend credit to you from the issuer, but you’re required to pay the full balance at the end of the month. Some charge cards also have an annual membership fee. Charge cards are typically associated with American Express; many store chains often issue their own charge cards as well which can only be used at that store.

To be honest, I’ve always assumed charge cards were the same as credit cards, but then I may be behind the curve on this one, and so might be a lots of people. The point of this post is to make people understand each of these cards might work better than another for specific types of purchases, so knowing which to use in any given situation is important. Click the link above to read more about these charge cards and how you can protect yourself.

If you use more that one type of plastic, let’s hear how you divide up your spending among them in the comments.

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If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, especially if you’re married or living together, I can almost be sure that you’ve had a money fight. If you’re one of the lucky few couples who never had a money fight, my advice to you – keep talking to each other and taking into consideration each others financial goals.

When it comes to money, one of the biggest causes of problems in relationship is differences in values, goals and habits, especially when it comes to talking about money issues.

There is a saying – Money can’t buy love, but it sure can tear it apart.

While I can’t say that my fiancée and I are perfect when it comes to money matters and relationships, I can say that we’ve come a long way when it come it handling our money matters, and now we rarely ever have money disagreements. We are in a much more solid relationship these days – we learned how to talk about money, and how to align our financial goals.

Learning how to talk about money and how to align your financial goals is the core of this post. If you can do those two things, there is a stronger chance that your relationship is on solid ground and you’ve accomplish more than most couples.

Sit and talk about each others financial goals and values. It seems obvious and sensical, but many couples often neglect this step, because talking about finances can be uncomfortable – especially in the early stages of a relationship. Many times these important things are left unsaid and often don’t even think about it individually. That’s a mistake, as one person might want to be penny-wise in order to save for future goals, while the other might like to spend and enjoy things now, while the getting is good. The differences often come from different upbringings. But it doesn’t have to be difficult, just tell you partner you would like to sit down and talk about the future – what your goals are and how you can work together, as a team, to achieve them. In the beginning Liuda (my fiancée) and I just started spitting out different things each of us wanted – a house next to the beach, kids, going back to school, traveling around the Caribbean, tech gadgets, and etc.

Then start to prioritize, and see if you can come up with things in common. If you want different things, it is important that you talk about why, and consider the other person’s desires. If that’s what makes the other person happy, you should want to make them happy — that’s the basis of a good relationship, where both individuals are happy within the relationship.

Remove emotions from financial talk. It’s important that the two of you stay calm, from the first meetings about financial goals to your subsequent monthly talks. Try looking at these issues objectively without getting hurt or angry over any of the issues. Often financial issues are tied up in all kinds of emotional issues, from a previous relationship, from childhood or maybe if your way of spending is criticized in any way by your partner. With financial issues these emotional issues most times are tangled together. It’s important that you untangle them and just deal with financial goals and habits.

Don’t go blaming the other person or even be negatively critical. Simply talk about your financial goals, developing a plan for getting to those goals, developing a system for dealing with finances, and so forth. Again, think of this as a team effort, not as a you-vs-me effort.
Come up with a plan to meet your goals. You need a plan to get there. Once you’re able to come up with some common financial goals that already is a huge step (celebrate!). I’m talking about thinks like your joint income, your debt, your savings, how much you can put towards debt and/or saving each month, whether you want to cut back on certain things in order to meet your savings goals, how long you want to give yourself to meet financial goals, and so forth. Having a definite time-frame for each goal is a good start, and figure out how much you will need to pay towards debt and save each month to get to your goals. Don’t be upset that you might need to cut back on some things, or need to earn some extra income-or both.

This plan to meet your goals is how you will align your daily and monthly spending with your long-term goals. It’s also a great way to resolve minor short-term dispute — you should definitely buy fewer shoes, and I should buy fewer video games, so we can buy that house in three years. 🙂

Above all, stay positive and be honest. Remember: you’re a team and you want each other to be happy while working towards common goals. Team members can help each other out and encourage each other, or they can rip the team apart by being negative, by blaming, by working against common goals. Try staying positive and you’ll succeed as a team. Lastly, make sure love is the foundation of everything of you do.

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