Is there anything sexier than talking about budgets, compound interest, and debt? I get it … at face value money sounds like a really dull topic at best and a really prickly one to discuss with your partner at worst. But trust me: Talking about money, especially when you do it on a regular basis, can and will create intimacy in your relationship.
A couple years ago, my husband and I decided to buy a new TV. Ours was on the fritz and it was approaching the Super Bowl so TVs were on deep discount at Costco. While we hadn’t planned on this expense, between the cushion in our budget and some savings, we were able to pay for the TV out of pocket. But what if we had put this amount on a credit card?
What motivates you more, time or money? For me, it’s time all the way. I long for more concentrated time with my spouse, more time to spend with my family and friends, and more time off from work to go on adventures. Making my budget work with my salary has never been an issue — but having control over my time? That’s vitally important to me. I keep a detailed spreadsheet of how I’m spending my PTO. And flexible scheduling (like half-day Fridays in the summer) and the ability to work from home are two of the things I like best about my current job.
I have to admit that I didn’t give my student loans very much thought until I graduated from graduate school. By that point, I had been accruing debt for nearly six years. In college, even though I knew there was debt involved, I lived blissfully unaware of how much I was really racking up in the background between tuition and living expenses. By the time I got to graduate school, and had the reality check that most college seniors get during their final month before graduation, I was paying a little more attention and tried very hard to be extra careful about my budget so I added as little as possible to my college debt. But still most days, it didn’t register on my financial radar screen.
About five years ago, I was able to surprise my husband with a little getaway adventure to a historic B&B in Stillwater, MN, about a half-hour from our home. As we got off the highway and caught a glimpse of the river and quaint main street downtown, it felt like we’d traveled to another world. After an amazing dinner at a wine bar, a relaxing night at the B&B, a multi-course breakfast in bed (delivered by picnic basket), and a morning walking around the shops downtown, we felt rested, refreshed, and reconnected to one another. We were back home by Saturday afternoon feeling like we’d fit an entire vacation into one 24-hour period.
About a year after I finished graduate school, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. My husband and I were exactly a year out from our wedding. I still remember getting the call as my mother-in-law and I were driving home from wedding dress shopping. I was working hard to save up for my contribution to the wedding and pay off at least one of my student loans before I said “I do.” It seemed like every dollar that came through my bank account was already earmarked and accounted for. My mom asked: “Can you come home for the funeral?”
There was a time in my life when it seemed like the only appropriate gift for me (or any of my girlfriends) was body lotion. Every Christmas, every birthday, every graduation always seemed to bring me Peony lotion from Bath & Body Works. The funniest part for me: I hated the smell of it! But isn’t “fancy” body lotion what every teenage girl wanted?
I remember the first time I tasted financial freedom. I was a year or so into my first full-time job and I had finally gotten the hang of budgeting and covering all of my needs. I had a plan to repay my student loans and build my emergency fund, so I could finally save toward something I wanted with what was left over. That was the moment when money became not just frugal but fun to me. Because all of my bases were covered, I had the freedom to choose and pursue my next goal.
When my husband and I first met, I was a graduate student working about 15 hours/week and living as frugally as I could. He was an art student who also worked full-time at the front desk of a hotel. I kid you not, when we met I thought my husband was rich. He lived in a 1-bedroom apartment — by himself, with laundry in unit! He even had cable TV. Seriously, what more could you want? I was living in an apartment near my school with a roommate, uneven floors, and laundry a parking lot away. To me, he was the paragon of adult living.
Have you ever heard someone say “money is just a piece of paper”? I get where they are coming from – it really is just a piece of paper. But what it represents and the power that we give to money can make it so much more (or so much less). Much of how we view and use money is forged in our early years by watching the people we love handle it. We take on the positive behaviors they taught us, but we may also bring with it their fears, anxieties, and blind spots about money as well.
After my husband Tyler’s accident last year, one of my first thoughts was: We don’t have a will. We’re both young and healthy, so it had never risen to the top of our to-do list. As I contemplated how quickly things could have turned out differently, the questions started to pop up. Like, all of our joint-owned property would come to me, but what about the things my spouse owned separately? And, what if we were both killed in a car accident — then what would happen?
Whenever I see the popular hashtag #relationshipgoals on Facebook or Instagram the first thing that comes to mind for me isn’t a celebrity relationship, a beautiful wedding, or even a couple on a dream vacation, it’s my grandparents. Maybe it’s because my grandfather still insists on calling my grandmother his “girlfriend” even after 68 years together? Maybe it’s because they wrote each other EVERY DAY for two years while my grandfather was away for his army service during the Korean war – talk about the definition of old world romance? Maybe it’s because I’ve watched them consistently stand by each other in sickness and in health? There are too many reasons to count.
It’s common for people to think they need to be nearing a specific age threshold or making a certain amount of money to contact a financial planner, but that’s just not true. Financial planners can help you at every stage in life, no matter your income. And the best news? Many employers are now offering a financial planning benefit as part of their benefit suite allowing you to use these services for free or a reduced fee.
A year ago today I woke up in a hospital room. It was the first night where I’d been able to get some sleep for stretches of more than an hour since my husband’s car accident, and despite being woken up multiple times by nurses checking my husband and IV machines that wouldn’t stop beeping, I was grateful.
When money comes your way — whether that’s a paycheck, side hustle income, or an unexpected tax refund — what’s your first instinct? How you answer may say a lot about your money personality. Are you a saver, spender, giver, or acquirer? You may be just one, or a combination of two. No money personality is better than the other; each has strengths and growth areas.
It may help to think back to how you handled money growing up. As a kid, I can still remember the joy I experienced as I gave part or all of my babysitting money away. I know — I was a pretty odd kid! But it always came back to already having all of my needs met and wanting to use my money to help others.
A few weeks ago my husband said, “I’d really like to move. What would you think about moving to Portland?” I’ll admit this announcement did not take me by surprise. When my husband and I visited Portland last year, we fell in love with the landscape and the culture. For the past year we’ve dreamed about what it might look like to retire on the Oregon coast. Seriously, if you’ve never been there, just take a quick gander on Google and I’m guessing you’ll be joining us there, too.
Before I moved in with my husband, I never had cable TV. When I was younger, I only got to watch cable when I went over to a friend’s house or my grandparents’ house — it was such a treat. When I was first out on my own, I couldn’t afford to even think about getting cable, and later on when I had my first job and could afford it, it just wasn’t all that important to me.