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Honey, I Stretched The Fiscal Truth

"The fact that you and your partner or spouse don't see eye to eye on how to save, spend and invest is completely normal," said Sheryl D. Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network Inc., a nationwide network of professional fee-only financial advisers. "We are often attracted to people with different characteristics than we have."

However, Garrett said, couples need to realize that they are in a partnership, and that means compromising.

_____Column Archive_____
Be Cautious About Merging Your Money With Your Honey (The Washington Post, Feb 24, 2005)
Embarrassment of Riches (The Washington Post, Feb 20, 2005)
Read Michelle's Past Columns

"People compromise on where they are going to live, take vacations, so they also need to compromise on how to spend, save and invest," she said.

That's advice that could serve the winners of the contest well.

For example, one of the winners of this year's "Honey, I Need Some Money" contest is Marva Hilliard of Jacksonville, Fla. She and her husband of four years are complete money opposites.

"We have separate checking accounts because I learned within the first few months of marriage that my husband cannot save a penny," Hilliard wrote. "I am very frugal."

Teresa Ferguson of Eldersburg, Md., another winner, has a similar issue with her husband of 2 1/2 years.

"I will send him to the store with a list because I know that we are on a budget, and he comes back killing the bank," she wrote in her entry. "I think I am packing his lunch to save money and find out that he is going to Denny's. At the end of the month there are $100, $200 and even $300 items that he forgot to tell me about."

My third pick is Stacy Westbrook of Herndon. Stacy and her husband, Harold, were at odds over the purchase of a motorcycle.

Stacy wanted to put the money toward a bigger house.

"At first, my husband was excited about buying a newer, larger home," she wrote. "That was until his buddies got ahold of him. The majority of his friends ride motorcycles."

Harold got his motorcycle.

"But I'm not thrilled about it," Stacy said.

I chose the winners because I thought each couple could use a mediator to help them find some middle ground to deal with their financial issues. So each winning couple will receive a free financial consultation from an adviser in the Garrett Planning Network.

In addition, courtesy of Dearborn Trade Publishing, other randomly selected contest entrants will receive a free copy of Garrett's "Just Give Me the Answer$," a money guide that offers answers to more than 130 personal finance questions. More information about the book can be found at www.garrettplanningnetwork.com.

Thanks to all who entered the contest, and remember, when it comes to handling your money as a couple, the keys to financial success are the three Cs -- compromise, communication, common goals.

Michelle Singletary discusses personal finance Tuesdays on NPR's "Day to Day" program and online at www.npr.org. Readers can write to her at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or send e-mail to singletarym@washpost.com. Comments and questions are welcome, but because of the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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