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household finances

Celebrity money expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade has helped many budget-challenged Canadians put their bank accounts back in order on national television.

Now, with her new series "Money Moron" (premiering Friday on Slice), the frank-talking financial guru comes to the aid of those who feel they are victims of such over-spenders — from spouses and friends, to parents and their children.

In each episode, Vaz-Oxlade helps a "tattler" confront a "money moron" in hopes of saving their ailing relationship. If they follow through on the tasks she assigns, which include a spending journal and a cash-flow budget, she gives them up to $10,000.

"People at home will watch this and all to learn how to tell the truth, how to lovingly tell the person that they're genuinely interested in helping, 'This is not working, we have to do something,"' says Vaz-Oxlade, who previously hosted the series "Til Debt Do Us Part" and "Princess."

Telling the truth is also the key to avoid fighting with a spouse about money, says Vaz-Oxlade, who recently spoke with The Canadian Press about that very topic.

Here are Vaz-Oxlade's five tips for preventing money meltdowns in relationships:

1. Simply fess up about your financial issues, whether they concern your own money or your partner's.
"The majority of people fight about money because they're not honest, so rule No. 1 for not fighting about money is to be honest with each other," says the author of over a dozen books, the latest of which is "Money Rules."

"Tell each other what you're thinking. Don't expect the other person to know what you're thinking. Please, we don't read minds, OK?"

2. Don't deceive each other in money matters.
"Don't do things like bring home stuff and take the tags off or stuff in bags and bring it into the house and hide it in the laundry hamper," says Vaz-Oxlade, who also has a weekly radio show on Toronto's Newstalk 1010.

"That kind of deception, you may think it's not a big deal but it is fundamentally saying you don't trust your partner and you're telling your partner not to trust you."

There is one exception to the rule: If you're married to a money moron, you may have to keep financial information from your partner, she notes.

3. Have constructive — not confrontational — cash chats. And communicate your longer-term financial goals to find a common ground.
"Talking about the money outside of just, 'The bills need to be paid,"' says the straight-talking Jamaican native.

"Have conversations about what it is you're trying to achieve. Don't just assume you both want to buy a house, and even if you say you want to buy a house, do you want to buy the same kind of house? You have to have the conversations and you can't just assume that the other person is on track with you if you don't ask the question."

4. Choose when you talk about finances carefully.
"If you do this at the end of a busy day, if you do this just when you've found out somebody overdrew the account, if you do it during heightened emotional times, what you're going to do is set yourself up for a fight," says Vaz-Oxlade.

"If you get into a fight over the money, call a time out. Say, 'This is not working for us anymore, this is too emotionally inflated. We'll stop now but set the date for the next meeting,' so you don't just walk away from it."

5. Don't let one person take all control over the money.
"You need to have both people in the game if you want to have both people committed to the game plan," she says.

"So yes, one person may have more time and may be better attuned to doing things like paying the bills. But you still have to sit down and show your partner, 'These are the bills I paid this week, this is how much money we put in savings."'

Vaz-Oxlade recommends a "mine, yours, ours" approach to managing household finances.

"So, 'Together we decide what our joint expenses are, we open a joint account, we contribute to that joint account proportionate to our income,"' she said. "Fifty-50 isn't always fair. If one person makes three times as much as the other person, 50-50 definitely isn't fair.

"Contribute proportionate to your income so you're each paying proportionate on the joint expenses, and then everything else you do as individuals: You have your own credit, you have your own savings, you have your own insurance."

In the case of a stay-at-home mom or dad, the couple still has to make allowance for the fact that both parties need their own money to manage, she adds.

"Which means that you handle the joint expenses and whatever else is left over, you divvy it up and you share it so that you can build your own savings and you can build your own emergency fund and you can manage your own credit."

"Money Moron" premieres with back-to-back episodes on Friday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Slice. A special sneak peek presentation will air Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.

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