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finance columnist

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It’s difficult but necessary. Our financial expert shares tips on communicating about finances with your significant other.

 

Whether you are married, engaged, or thinking about the possibility of getting serious with someone, a talk about money should be had sooner rather than later.

Money is a tricky, uncomfortable thing that can break a couple at any stage in life. It does not matter if there is a lot of money or a little bit of money, if it is not managed properly it can be detrimental to a relationship.

In my business, I counsel a lot of couples around increasing their income, paying off their debt, and day-to-day money management. More than not, it is clear not all couples have had an open, honest conversation about their finances. As a result, I want to share some tips to help people at any stage in their relationship navigate a financial talk without feeling embarrassed or awkward.

First make sure it just you and your significant other in a peaceful, relaxed setting.

1. Discuss one another’s financial goals.

It is important to know where you and your significant other want to go financially, especially as it relates to lifestyle goals. This is a great conversation starter and will identify current income and debt levels. Couples should understand how their personal finances will now affect their significant other’s finances. It is best to get on the same footing with a solid financial vision and goals to achieve that vision. The two of you have to be financially great together and the only way to do so is by ironing at all the details when it comes to incomes, businesses, homes, and investments.

2. Determine your significant other’s strengths and opportunities.

Knowing if your significant other is a saver or a spender is HUGE. It will help the two of you determine who is responsible for ensuring bills are paid consistently and on time. Obviously savers and spenders budget differently as well, it will take some work to help the spender stay on track. Just as it might be a challenge to get the saver to spend money. Know how to encourage your partner to be their best selves.

3. To have joint accounts or not, that is the question?

This is absolutely the decision of each couple. There is not one right or wrong answer here. Some couples have their own separate checking accounts and then a joint account for family saving and household bill payments. While other couples have joint checking and saving accounts, all the money goes to one place and they both share a debit or credit card. Still there are other couples that do not have joint accounts at all, one partner is responsible for making all the household payments and each person saves in their own saving accounts. You have to find a balance that works for you and your significant other because finances are like relationships, one size does not fit all.

4. Protect your spouse against the loss of your income.

Your significant other will eventually come to depend on your income to manage the household. It is invaluable to protect against such a loss or disability. Finding the right insurance is imperative. Talk to a trusted professional because your job benefits may not be enough or may not be available upon termination or retirement.

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Our financial expert explains why it’s important to foster a healthy relationship with your finances, and the five steps to get there.

Money has a way of creeping into the majority of situations we encounter as an adult. Therefore, let’s take a moment to treat our money right, let’s wine and dine it, and show it how much we care. This is not an article to tell you to love money or the things that money buys, more than you love your family or ourselves, but just as we are told to foster a healthy relationship with our husband, we have to foster a healthy relationship with our money.

So many times, we want to break up with money, we don’t want to deal with it. I have asked myself many times, ‘Why DOESN’T money grow on trees?’ and ‘Why can’t I just have whatever I want at whatever price I want it to be?’ We, as consumers, have to understand so much about money as it relates to taxes, interest rates, investing, savings, and spending. We go through highs and lows with money. On one hand it makes us feel really awesome when we have it, and then on the other, we let money make us feel really bad when we don’t have it. Either way, I want us to fall in love with our financial situation, no matter the mountain or valley we are facing.

I would like to share some awesome tips I learned along my money journey to love my finances through it all.

1. What Is For You, Is For You
This is cardinal rule number one. No matter what IT is, if it destined for you, you will have it. There have been times I went into a store and could have easily charged whatever I wanted. However, I knew I couldn’t afford it. The purchase would have only made me happy for about 30 minutes and then I would have kicked myself for doing something so stupid and meaningless. Point is, don’t force something that just isn’t there and that will place you in a compromising situation later.

2. Being Content, But Always Striving For Better
Celebrities live a glamorous lifestyle. They have become famous and can afford some really awesome things, but I realized I am no celebrity, no one on this earth cares if I wear the same outfit twice, no one cares if my tag says Target or Givenchy, and no one cares if my shoes have a red bottom or not. I am content where I am and have learned to stop comparing myself to people and putting unnecessary pressure on myself to have THINGS. I am content right where I am, but I am always striving to accomplish my personal and professional goals more so than I am trying to possess the latest and greatest.

3. Just Because You Have Doesn’t Mean You Have To Spend It
It’s ok to say no. Do things in moderation. So many of my clients tell me they get sidetracked at Target or Sephora and just spend so much money. Boundaries and limitations are the keys to living. Remember, you only have one face; it can only handle one makeup application at a time. Additionally, I am sure the clearance item at Target is not a need because you would have purchased it for regular price if you were in the market to buy it originally.

4. Treat Yourself
If you have done a good deed, accomplished a real goal, and put in some real work, go out and treat yourself good. No this is not an everyday thing nor is this always an expensive item. It could be as simple as a pair of earrings. It does not have to be extravagant. People always think they have to spend hundreds of dollars to treat themselves, which is not true. I love food, so I have treated myself to my favorite lunch restaurant many of times, while only spending $10.

5. Hire A Professional
We, as humans, are created with special strengths and abilities. We all are not blessed with them same strengths; therefore, it is ok if we have to hire professional help with our finances. People are very private with their money, I understand, it is an intimate matter, it is personal. I get it. However, if you are not great with money, you need a teacher. We allow professionals into our lives to cut/color our hair, cut/shape our bikini lines, nails, and toes, fix our iPads and iPhones, etc. But when it comes to money, we hide in a quiet corner and try to figure it out all by ourselves. Why? We struggle in silence for no reason. I have a financial advisor, had one since I was 22 and no matter how smart I am with money, I will never end that relationship.

Whatever your situation, love you finances and they will love you back! I promise. Be good to your money now, so it can be good to you in the future when you really need it.

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The best thing about fall is its fashion, but that retail therapy can also take a toll on your budget. Our finance expert offers tricks to avoid pitfalls while still enjoying a fashionable fall treat.

Shop for fall fashion without busting your budget.
Shop for fall fashion without busting your budget.

I was at lunch with my friend the other day, and of course we could not help but talk about the all the new fall fashion trends.

Each year top fashion magazine release what’s cool this season rather it’s whimsical colors, flare bottom jeans, or chunky collared sweaters. We as consumers are convinced that somehow we have to be cool and trendy, spending our money on these new clothing items. Not true!

For the record, as a self-declared fashionista, I love shopping. I’m weird in a sense because I love touching the fabrics, the smell of new clothes, and sifting through racks of clothing to find that unbelievable deal. The clearance rack is my favorite, of course. So I definitely understand the urge to shop until you drop on the latest trends, but I would recommend only buying one trendy piece this season. As a frugal fashionista, you do not want to get in the habit of spending a lot of money for pieces you will only wear once or twice.

When looking for these trendy pieces, it is easy to go out to an expensive retailer, but let’s start the search at Forever21, H&M, or Macy’s (as they are always having a sale). No one will know that you did not spend an arm and a leg for your piece. I often wait for the end of the season sale to pick up my statement pieces. Season end sales are deeply discounted to at least 65 percent off.

This brings me to my next point of using price points while shopping. Don’t use a sale as an excuse to splurge outside of your budget. Having a spending limit will help with this endeavor. Combining price points with spending limits will definitely ensure your bank account is happy. This real-life concept is used by home buyers when selecting a home. A good realtor will not show you a home that is more than your pre-approval amount; therefore, as a frugal shopper you should not shop outside of your budget.

My plan of attack this fall season is to find the perfect pair of thigh high, suede, high-heeled boots. However, I am only willing to spend $50 for a pair. By setting this price point, I will not get distracted by anything outside of that price range. It will not be easy, but it will be worth when I have extra money for holiday shopping or trip planning.

Trust me you can do it, changing your habits and your priorities is the start to becoming a successful saver. Price pointing and spending limits will be second nature and your bank account will remain intact. It takes patience, but don’t let retailers take you out of the saving game; instead make better decisions when it comes to shopping. This way you will win every time.

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