When my husband and I got engaged five years ago, one of my biggest concerns was how we would handle money. When it came to finances we never seemed to be on the same page. He enjoyed spending money and I couldn’t wait to give money away. He liked investing money in more expensive items and hobbies, while I enjoyed living frugally and struggled to spend money on myself. We did have common dreams and goals for our marriage — like buying a house and traveling the world — but I wasn’t sure how we’d ever make these dreams a reality when our approach to money seemed so different.
My 31st birthday is coming up this weekend. Even though last year was the big 3-0, I think it took me about a year to come to terms with leaving my 20s and really consider all that I had learned during that decade of my life. Like most people, I experienced mountains of change: I started out my 20s in college, a single woman living with three roommates and a vague notion of what I’d like to do with my life. I began my 30s in my own home, a married woman with a clear sense of what I love to do: help people improve their relationship with money.
Ever since I studied French in school, I always dreamed of visiting Paris. I longed to stroll the streets, sit at a café eating a croissant, visit the market to buy all of the ingredients for dinner, and see the famous art in its many museums. I wanted to drink in the sites, the smells, the taste, the culture. So about three years ago, I started putting together a trip to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday. My husband was quick to get on board – adding that it this would be a good opportunity for him to see the Normandy beaches. As I began telling friends about the idea, we found another couple who was interested in joining us, too.
I have to confess: I’m jealous of people who spend extended time traveling — whether it’s a few months, a year, or more. I constantly see posts on social media related to this topic — Facebook knows me well! — and I can’t help but imagine my husband and I setting off on a fully-funded globe-trotting journey without a care in the world.
You know you have a problem when your husband feels the need to ask your permission every time he wants to make a purchase even if he’s just buying an occasional cup of coffee on the way to work. Don’t worry – it’s not that he’s financially dependent. It’s because I was (and probably still am to some extent) financially controlling. I like to track where each dollar of our income is shared, saved, and spent. I still check our bank account every day even though we have more than enough. After living paycheck to paycheck as a student, I like to be reminded that we are ok. While I never said he should call me when he wants to spend money, I think my behavior implied it.
I get this question a lot and I have to admit that it feels like a trick question. Couples want to know if they should combine their money when they get married, keep it separate, or do a hybrid of both. From my perspective, I don’t think there’s one right way to do it. The most important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of how you want to handle money. Many engaged people I’ve talked to assume they will be taking one approach – either combining their money or keeping it separate – but they’ve never had a conscientious conversation with their partner about it.
Can money really buy you happiness? According to researchers – yes – it can buy you time, which in turn can boost your happiness!
Last summer, a group of researchers published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found when people spend money on time-saving services like a house cleaner, lawn care, or grocery delivery they experience a boost in happiness. In contrast, when they spend money on things, it didn’t boost their happiness in the same way.
Saving money isn’t easy. Most people’s minds go directly to pinching pennies – needing to eat out less, give up buying coffee, or buying used instead of new. While these lifestyle changes can be really helpful, what if you investing a few hours and making a few small changes could have a big impact on your budget and give your savings a large boost?
I don’t know about you but the thought of stepping back sets off my internal alarm bells. I’m a big fan of getting things done, crossing items off my to-do list, and constantly moving forward. But I think this addiction to forward motion can often get us stuck in a hamster wheel. We keep running – thinking we’re moving forward – when in fact we are just spinning our wheels. If we do in fact move forward, we may find ourselves stepping further and further away from our intended destination because we aren’t willing to course correct.
A few weekends ago, I attend the BossedUp Trainer Certification Program with a bunch of other amazing entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and all around boss ladies. During lunch, I sat next to another trainer who asked: “What do you recommend for people with student loan debt? This is a critical issue and it doesn’t seem like many financial advisors are paying attention to it.” I have to agree. While most financial professionals understand that student loan debt is a critical issue not many people in the financial industry have a lot of recommendations for how to handle this debt well.
A few weeks ago, I listened to an amazing podcast on Intersectional Feminism. Prior to listening to this podcast, I never realized how much the traditional feminist movement had done to privilege white, heteronormative voices. I was amazed and ashamed. But I think my biggest takeaway from listening to this podcast was how important it is to be willing to step back, check your privilege, and be “called in” when you unintentionally exclude the experience of others.
What financial milestones are you hoping to achieve over the course of your life? As I’ve said before, I think the cookie cutter milestones of getting married, buying a house, adopting a dog, having 2.5 kids, and retiring are a bit overrated. However, I think the practice of crafting your own financial milestones that really align with your lifestyle, values, and goals – even if it includes some or all of those more conventional milestones – is highly underrated.
In December 2016, right before Christmas, a work colleague of mine’s house and garage burned down taking everything in the house – including his family’s Christmas gifts – with it. Luckily, he, his wife, and three kids were all unharmed. When my office heard about the accident, we were eager to help. His team arranged a company-wide potluck and began accepting donations of money and gift cards to aid his family. When I heard about the tragedy I wanted to help too. But, I took a look at our budget and realized that we didn’t have a lot of money to spare that month. I talked to my husband and we decided to give a small gift card, but it broke my heart that we couldn’t do more.
Have you ever looked at homes online and found that the estimated mortgage was less than the amount you are paying in rent? Maybe you’ve wondered why you’re throwing your money away on a rental when you could be building equity in your own home? In today’s post, I want to take a look at the real cost of buying and owning a home. Wondering whether owning a home is right for you? Check out last week’s post.
The other day I was out for drinks with a friend and he mentioned that he was considering buying a house and he was wondering how much he should spend on it. In other words, what percentage of his budget should go toward a house. For those of you who are curious, conventional wisdom says that you should spend no more than 28% of your budget on a mortgage. But, I found myself wanting to take the conversation a few steps back - as I often do - to ask the question why do you want to buy a house in the first place? Are you sure that buying a house is the next right step for you? That’s the question that I want to get at in today’s “Ask The Classy Frugalist” post.
I’ve heard it said that there are two ways to create more flexibility in your budget – reduce spending or increase your income. Too often we focus on the subtraction side of the equation – what can I cut back on? I think for many of us that’s a fine place to start. But, have you really stopped to consider the other side of the equation – how would you increase your income? Particularly, how might you increase your income from your current employer?
As I mentioned in last week’s post, when my husband and I first got married I was more of the “money” person in our relationship. He was happy to let me just handle the money and I was happy to put my skills into practice. And, if I’m honest, I think I was happy to keep control over at least one area of our relationship. Now, I’d like to share with you a few things that I’ve learned as I’ve relinquished control of our money life and started to listen.
Here are a few valuable lessons that I’ve learned from Mr. Classy Frugalist:
We’ve all heard that money is one of the leading causes of stress in relationships. I’ve seen this stress emerge from talking about money too much, not talking about it at all, and everything in between. So, what can couples do to reduce the stress? I suggest they stop, take a deep breath, and spend time listing to their partner. What are his or her fears? What are his or her goals? What can you learn from him or her?
I’m not saying this is easy. Most of us have different money personalities than our partner – maybe one of you is a spender and one is a saver. In the case of my husband and I, I would really love to give all of our money away and my husband can think of a million ways to spend it. If you have a different money personality than your partner, how do you meet in the middle?