Tag Archives: financial goals

The Realty of Financial Stress in Relationships

Not only can financial stress affect your health, it can affect your relationships. Financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorce and strain among many family relationships. Financial problems may lead to other problems such as domestic violence, poverty, and homelessness. Many people think, “it won’t happen to me.”

I’m writing this post as a witness of how financial problems can cause great stress in relationships, especially in marriage. It’s important to talk about finances and expectations before you get married. I know, we often get caught up in the feelings and excitement of our new-found love. However, it’s important to be open and honest with one another.

I’ve come up with some questions/suggestions, mostly related to finances, that should be discussed before marriage. Some of these questions should be discussed continuously, even after marriage, because people grow and change.

Get to Know One Another
Seems simple enough, right? For some people it is, for others it’s difficult. Ask a variety of questions, sit down and talk over a cup of coffee. Ask simple questions about what they wanted to do when they were a child or about previous pets. Get to know where they’ve been and what made them who they are now.

I’ve found that one great way to learn more about your significant other is to play board games with them. See how they react and treat the other players (especially if the other players are children.) It’ll show their true character and they won’t be filtered.

Why Are You Getting Married?
It may feel strange but ask your significant other why he/she wants to get married. If there’s a hesitation, maybe it’s time to dig deeper. Ask them if they feel lonely, and if they think that they are financially secure.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you’re planning on spending the rest of your life with this person, why should you be afraid?

What do you want out of life as a couple?
Do you want to grow together spiritually? Do you want a traveling companion? Or as you grow older, someone who can be your best friend? Ask one another. Each of us is looking for different characteristics in someone… but it’s important that this person meets your expectations and that you’re not settling.

What are your plans in the next 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?
Maybe one of you wants to travel abroad, or go back to school. It’s important to know what your significant other’s goals and expectations are and how you fit into those goals. It’s important for you to know that they’ve thought about how you fit in. For example, if they go back to school, what about children? Are you going to be the primary source of income? Although we don’t have all the answers, it’s important to know that the person has thought about it.

What are your personal values?
Do you value giving money to charity? Do you value volunteering?

Make sure that your significant other knows what you value and respects it. They don’t necessarily have to value the same things as you, but they need to be comfortable with what you value.

Are you a saver or a spender?
Neither is a bad thing, unless it is excess. Talk about it. Are you frugal? Do you enjoy clipping coupons? Do you get a thrill out of investing? Or is your thrill from buying a new pair of shoes or going to a broadway show?

Talk about what you do to reward yourself or what you’d do with the money from a bonus check. Some people want to invest that money or put it into savings. Others want to buy a new car or enjoy a “night on the town.” Each one of us constitutes “taking care of ourselves” as something different. Again, as long as it’s not in excess, it’s okay… it’s important that you take care of yourself.

Do you have a budget in place?
Have you each developed a budget while still being single? What do the budgets look like? Have you compared? We each budget and prioritize our needs differently. Comparing budgets is a great way to get to know one another and to discuss priorities. For example, some want a larger house if it means having an older car. Others want a newer car if it means getting a smaller house.

If you don’t have a budget in place, it’s time to make one. If not separately, then together. Not only does it show that you are responsible with your  money, it also shows that you love the other person. Why? You care enough to take the time out to plan your lives together. It makes things more personal and I guarantee it will be a great bonding experience.

It’s important for a couple to compare and prioritize. It’s also important that you two talk about income and expenses. One may still be paying off student loans. How will that fit into both of your budgets? What if there is credit card debt? How will that be payed off?

Currently, where is your money going? Where will it go when you get married?

Who is going to be responsible for paying the bills on time?
It’s important to talk about who is going to be the bookkeeper in the relationship. This person should be responsible for paying the bills and keeping up with the funds. Sometimes, couples work well as a team. They are each able to budget effectively and pay bills on time. It’s something that needs to be discussed because it can help prevent fights about “did you pay the bill?”

Should you have a joint checking account or separate accounts or both?
It’s important to discuss how you want to keep your money. Again, it’s important to be open and honest with one another. Some prefer to have a join account and have all expenses taken out of it. Some people prefer 2 private accounts and a joint account for expenses. It’s up to you as a couple. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, as long as you’re honest.

It wouldn’t be fun to find out about a “secret” account the other person has had open for years, would it?

How much do we owe in debts?
Sit down and talk about your debts with one another. It may be that you’re already paying a mortgage on a house, or you have some student loans. Discuss how you plan on paying for them.

What are our financial goals?
Discuss retirement and when you play to retire. Discuss debts and how you plan to pay them off. Maybe one of your goals is getting an education. How will you fund these goals? Are they short-term, or long-term? Are both of you going to fund these goals?

What are future plans for a home?
Talk about whether or not you want to own a home. Think about what is required with owning a home such as how you’re going to come up with the down payment for the house and how to pay for the mortgage.

If you want to rent, talk about prices and what you can and cannot afford.

Do we both know where our important financial documents are located?
It’s extremely important to keep everything in order before you sign the documents to get married.

Do you want to have children? Do we want to have children?
Talk about whether or not you want to have children. If you do, how many do you want to have? It’s really important for couples to talk about this. If one of you wants children and the other does not want any at all, this could potentially cause a lot of problems later.

Of course, our opinions change. Sometimes we don’t want children, then we do. This is where open-mindedness becomes important.

Talking about children is also vital to planning for your future successfully. Children are expensive… and there may be other topics that come up as a result such as college planning or something such as what school district you want to live in for the best academic education.

How will we make decisions together?
What will be the process for making decisions together? Will you set aside “family time” once a week or will you flip a coin? Each couple makes decisions differently, but it’s important that both of you agree on how to do it.

Can we both forgive?
We make mistakes, we’re human. But can both of you forgive mistakes?

Marriage is not a fantasy. Financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorce in the US. Marriage is difficult and it takes a lot of communication and willing to grow closer together. Don’t let something like finances get in the way of a successful marriage.

Are there any suggestions that you’d like to add? How do you and your significant other handle sticky financial situations?

Budgeting for Birthdays

It’s just as important to budget for birthdays, as it is to budget for other holidays. When creating a budget, incorporating holidays and birthdays is just as important as incorporating anything else. Holidays & birthdays should not get in the way of saving for retirement or an education.

Especially if you have children, birthday parties may come up month to month as a surprise, and you find yourself spending money. In your month-to-month budget, it’s important to budget birthdays, even if you don’t “plan” on spending money for that month.

I can offer several suggestions, and if any readers have anymore, please post!

Idea #1: Decide on a monthly amount to save. Make a list of all family members and close friends and write their birthday. Put a desired amount that you would spend on each present, for example: for your parents $50, cousins, $25, etc.  With this list, calculate how much you’ll need per month. It’s important to add an extra $50 or so in there, if any unexpected birthday or dinner comes up.

Idea #2: Budget between $100 – $200 per month for birthdays and whatever you do not spend for that month, goes directly into savings.

Idea #3: Budget a specific amount of money per gift for everyone, and calculate how much that will be for each month.

Idea #4: Add up all the money estimates you think you’d spend on gifts, divide by 12 (months in a year) and that is how much money to save each month. You can keep the additional money in a separate bank account.

As an important reminder, it is always important to save for emergencies; however, purchasing a gift for someone should not be considered an emergency. An emergency could be that you need a new battery in your car or a trip to the emergency room.

Also, try not to spend more than you can afford. I know it’s hard, your mother or sister may want that new mixer for their kitchen that costs $300, but it may not be your job to get it. Consider getting a gift card to go for the larger purchases and write that in the card. I know, I hear giftcards are impersonal… but if you write a little note such as “i hope this helps get that mixer you’ve always wanted!” makes it personal.

As I said in my holiday budgeting post, it’s more important that you give a thoughtful gift, not how much money you spend on a gift.

Kids Birthdays

When I thought about writing this post, my past birthdays came to mind. I remember being in kindergarten and having a huge birthday party. I remember getting around 50 or more gifts (imagine what my parents spent, yikes!)  I’m not much of a hoarder by any means, but I do still have some of those gifts. I received picture frames, a monogrammed locker, and a hand drawn picture with my name on it that a mother did for me. I kept those gifts and still have them in my room. The gifts that gotten thrown away were the trendy toys that fell apart or that I grew out of using.

My point being is this: Yes that picture with my name on it didn’t seem very fun at the time, but here, almost 20 years later, it’s still hanging on my wall. It took some time, and a little bit of  money, but someone made it for me.

Do you have any suggestions on how to budget for birthdays? What works best for you?

Inexpensive Ways for your Children to Have Fun this Summer

Summer is here, and to go with the theme of saving money, I thought it would be great to post a list of workshops that children can attend. Not only are they educational, they involve the family!

1. Workshops at Apple
Apple provides two programs, Youth Workshops & Apple Camp. Youth Workshops are more family centered while Apple Camp is focused on the child. Both are great ways to develop Mac skills by using iLife and iWork applications.

2. Michael’s
Michael’s is a great place to take your children for arts & crafts workshops. It’s both a lot of fun and educational. Who knows, you may even get a gift out of it! :)

3. A.C. Moore
A.C. Moore offers arts & crafts workshops as well, and even lists some craft ideas.

4. Lowe’s Home Improvement
Offers some great arts & crafts ideas for the children involving some home improvement techniques.

5. Home Depot
Home Depot offers a lot of workshops and fun activities for the family.

6. Toys R Us
Sometimes Toys R Us offers workshops and fun activities for children.

7. Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble offers a lot of activities for children. They have storytime for children of all ages, online story book readings, and several speakers and events. It’s a great way to meet people and have fun.

8. Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops offer arts & crafts for children

All of these are great ideas for workshops for your children. There are also plenty of local places to check for other types of workshops, such as safety, acting and other sorts of recreational activities. Your local YMCA and Parks & Recreation part of your local government has resources for your children as well as other community organizations.

Another great website to check out for events and speakers is idealist.org. Idealist.org offers a variety of resources including places to volunteer and other ways to get involved in the community.

I’d like to hear about any of the experiences that you’ve had with these workshops, so please comment. Also, if anyone has any additional workshops or activities that they would like to share, that would be appreciated. :)

Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun for the Music Lover

Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun in for the Music Lover (especially while you’re still in college)

1. Get a job at the college radio station / Intern at the Local Radio Station

If your college has a radio station, it may be fun to  volunteer there (or if you can get paid, even better!) There can be several perks to working at a college radio station: you may get free movie passes, free concert passes, and you get to meet bands! Not to mention exposure to a lot of music and culture.

It’s also possible to complete an internship at a local radio station. Even if your major may be finance or social work, there are ways to tie in your skill set. If you’re a social work major, think of current news events or do a public affairs show. You can even tie in journalism.

2.Work at a music venue

This may be more difficult if your college is in a remote area, but music venues need both bartenders, merch people, and bouncers. They also need people to help clean up the venue. The money may not be great (or it may!) but it sure is an experience of a lifetime. You’ll get to meet bands, other music lovers and have stories to tell for years to come.

3.  DJ

I’ve met a lot of people that taught themselves how to be a DJ at events. They’ve had the opportunity to make money playing the music that they love. Remember, each DJ has their own music preference and style and I promise there is an audience that loves yours. I’ve even met DJ’s that only play old tunes such as Elvis and Buddy Holly. Some only play R&B and soul… and classic rock! It’s a great way to meet people and may be a good way to make money.

4. Be a Promoter

Some bands need promotional people. This may include hanging up posters, working the merch table or writing editorial pieces. Although this may be a volunteer job, bands usually put promoters on their guests lists to their shows and sometimes will even allow the promoters to tour with them.

Some music venues and bars also need people to do promotions

5. Scope Out the Flyers Around Campus

There are usually a ton of bands on a college campus that play free shows. Check out flyers and web postings often. I guarantee that they’ll at least be a show every week that you can go to if you do this.

6. Volunteer

There are several nonprofit organizations that help out local musicians or retired musicians. Volunteering for these organizations is a great way to be exposed to music and help out those in need. For example, there is a nonprofit in Asheville, NC http://www.mountainhomemusic.com/ that promotes Appalachian Culture, which includes music and art. This not only will be fun, but it will be great to put on your resume.

7. Write Music Reviews

You can either write for your school paper, create your own blog, or write for a larger organization but a lot of people will pay for your ticket to go to a show if you write a review. If you gain popularity, bands may even request that you be at their show to give them a good review. It’s a great way to network and practice your writing skills. It’s also something great to put on your resume!

8.Work at Music Store

Although I do not know about college campuses world-wide, I do know that on my college campus there were several music stores, both for new and used music. Usually they were more of an “underground scene” but they encouraged their employees to listen to new music and review it for the customers. Some may even have perks such as doing band promotions. It’s a great way to network and meet new people as well as musicians. Besides, it’s a job, right?

Please leave any comments or suggestions.. or inexpensive ways you’ve thought of to have fun.