To keep money from becoming a source of family conflict, consumer reporter Susan Kelliher Ungaro advises making financial matters "a partnership. What you consider a luxury, your spouse may consider a necessity. So it's important to talk out financial goals and make spending decisions together."
She advises taking the following "necessities quiz."
"It's guaranteed to start you thinking and talking about what goods and services are important to you and, if you had to, what items you could eliminate from the family possessions or goals."
Each partner should give one of these categories to each item, and then see how their answers compare: Necessary. Very Useful. Merely Desirable. Luxury. Items: Own a home (if you haven't one already) Family car Second car Third car Savings account Investments (stocks, bonds) Health insurance Life insurance Yearly vacation College for children Dinner out once a week Dinner out once a month Hairdresser once a week Hairdresser once a month New outfit once a month Movie once a week Movie once a month Sporting events tickets Country club membership Other club membership (swim, tennis, etc.) Air conditioning Color TV Washing machine Clothes dryer Dishwasher Stereo system Fine china Fine crystal Swimming pool