Time it takes: An hour
Nine out of 10 married people avoid talking to their partner about money, an American Express poll found.
Sound familiar? Dodging these discussions may help you avoid fights in the present, but you'll pay in the long run, says Mary Claire Allvine, coauthor of "The Family CFO: The Couple's Business Plan for Love and Money." Says Allvine: "Research shows that couples who regularly look at their balance sheets together do better financially." She recommends scheduling one-hour "dollar dates" to get on the same page.Date one:
Crack open a bottle of wine to loosen the nerves, then bring out the laptop and register on money management site Mint.com. Take just 15 minutes to upload your accounts and you'll get a balance sheet (how much you've got and what you owe) and a look at your cash flow (what's coming in and what's going out).
For the rest of the date, divvy up a pack of index cards and separately write down your money-related goals (say, paying off debt or taking a cruise). Then come together to prioritize your top three. Date two:
Spend the first 20 minutes figuring out how much cash each of your three goals will require. Next determine when you want to accomplish each of them and how much you need to save per month to do so. Finally, program the goals into Mint, and the site will track your progress toward them.
NEXT: Get disaster ready
From the editors of Real-Simple and Money. Text by Stephanie AuWerter - Last updated November 30 2011: 6:39 PM ET