Tag Archives: Personal Finance

Podcast: Communicating Finances with your Spouse

how to talk to your spouse about finances

If you are in a marriage, or have been in a marriage, you know how difficult it can be to communicate about money and finances. Whether it is talking about one partner spending too much or figuring out the benefits or a shared bank account – none of the conversations are ever very easy.

There are keys to making those conversations more productive however, and recently WolfBridge CEO, Michael Kothakota, sat down to discuss them.

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1. Is talking about money with your spouse important?
2. Are there times when you should hide or keep financial information from your spouse?
3. Is it important to have a shared bank account when you’re married?
4. Are there things you shouldn’t talk about with your spouse when it comes to money or spending?
5. What is the most important things you need to understand when it comes to spousal finances?
6. Is there a secret to handling financial issues in a marriage?

Do you have any secrets to share when it comes to talking about money and finances with your spouse or partner? Are there tips you can provide other married couples on how to talk about money? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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?

Financial Games for this Week

On the US Mint website, there are several games for children to play. One is called “Break the Bank” where you answer trivia questions and break the piggy bank.

A very simple counting game for young children is at funbrain.com. It allows the user to make change back.

On PBS kids’ website, there’s a game called “Mad Money,” which is both simple and fun.

Although this may not be the perfect game for “financial education,” it is fun and easy to play. You have to collect fruit for money.

Hope you enjoy your games this week!

Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun for the Movie Lover

Drive-in Movies
I’m a huge fan of drive-in movies. Not only are they historical (in my opinion) they are a lot of fun. Often times, the drive-in will show a double feature (two movies), for one price. The prices are inexpensive. Children may even get in free! Click here to search for drive-in movie theatres in your area.

Some drive-ins even give discounts to people who drive classic cars. In addition, for those of you that are old movie fans like me, some drive-ins have nights where they play the classics. Unfortunately, none that I know of in North Carolina.

It’s a great place for a date and for a night with the family. They’ve usually got inexpensive food, an outdoor area to play, and a great atmosphere. I’d recommend bringing the bug spray though, especially if you live in an area with a lot of mosquitoes.

Theatre in the Park
Another idea to explore is a theatre in the park concept. Many museums and outdoor amphitheaters offer this option in the summer. Here in Raleigh/Cary, the NC Museum of Art and Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheater offer some movies. Last summer I had the opportunity to watch some suspenseful thrillers. What a great way to spend your night!

Make Your Own Drive-In Movie Theater
I’ll break this into two categories. The first, using your backyard or your house for making a movie theatre. Popular Mechanics wrote an article on it as well as several other websites. You have the flexibility of making it however you’d like.

The second category, websites like mobmov.org (mobile movie), offer a way for people to get together and do a mobile drive-in movie theatre. You can sign up for mobmovian in your area, or you can follow the tutorial to make your own. The directions on the website are very detailed and require that the projective is located inside and powered by a car. There is even an option for filmmakers to release their films through MobMov.

Guerilla Drive-In offers something very similar. Santa Cruz has their own, but the website offers a do-it-yourself feature.

Of course, it’s important to follow state and federal laws. You may need a permit or other types of permission.

Movie Exchange
An idea that I had with my friends was to exchange DVDs. We had a little “party”, exchanged DVDs that we both wanted to watch, then return them back when we’re finished. In addition to watching a lot of movies, it gives us something to talk about and give feedback on.

Movie-Themed Parties
I always love it when my friends and I create a movie marathon. My movie marathons probably aren’t as exciting as most, but my friends and I stay up all night and watch movies. For example, we had an Audrey Hepburn marathon, where we had popcorn and sweets, dressed up like Audrey and each brought our favorite Audrey movie to the party. It was a simple, in-expensive way to have fun.

Redbox
I feel like I am falling into the trend here, but I love Redbox. I’ve signed up to receive free one-night rentals. If you sign up for redbox, they send you credits in your email. The rentals are $1.00 plus tax for each day and they’re perfect for a date night, if you return within a day. I’ve gotten to see new releases the day they come out onto DVD.

One problem I’ve had is that I wanted a widescreen version of a movie, but did not have the option to choose and received a fullscreen. Even after adjusting my settings on the DVD player and such, I was still disappointed that it wasn’t widescreen.

Netflix
I am a movie lover, so I’ve signed up for netflix. Typically I use this to get copies of older movies and not new releases. I also hooked up my Nintendo Wii to my netflix account to enjoy movies whenever. My movie recommendations and instant que come up and I just press play. It’s really nice, but not worth the monthly payment if you don’t want movies often. For the movies I cannot get on instant play, I receive them through the mail. There are several other devices available to instantly stream netflix, and they are listed on netflix’s website.

I don’t watch television much, but I do babysit. The benefit of streaming through the wii (or any device through netflix) is the availability of TV shows and children’s movies. I’ve seen nearly every Thomas the Train episode/movie available on Netflix.

Online Streaming
Websites such as hulu.com offer online streaming of some movies along with TV shows.

Used DVDs
Buy used. Simple enough :) There are a lot of great vendors that allow you to buy DVDs for cheap. BlockBuster and other stores often sell used DVDs for cheap… and have a bargain bin. Bargain bins are AWESOME! I saw My Cousin Vinny in one a few weeks ago… what a steal ;)

Discount Movie Theatres

I’ve been to several locations that offer a “discounted” movie price. You can search on websites like moviefone for theatres near you, and in the top right of every theater listed, there should be a price listed. However, as far as I know, there is no easy way to search by price.

Independent Movie Theatres
There are some movie theatres that play independent or cult classic films and are relatively inexpensive. They’re usually around college campuses but are a lot of fun. Typically they’re cash-only (probably how they can keep the ticket prices low) and offer some great incentives.

Movie Festivals
I would recommend doing a search on this one, but there are always movie festivals going on in my area. They have independent movie festivals, horror fest movie festivals, and other types.

Movie Theatres: Free and cheap family movies
I was doing a search for free and cheap movies in my area, and this website came up. So I wondered, what about other states?

As I searched “free movies in (insert state)”, several states came up with links for options to free film festivals or free outdoor movies. It may take a little bit of searching or an effort, but there are a lot of great resources for free movies in your state, especially now, during the summertime.

Working At the Movie Theatre
I also know several people that love movies so much, they’ve picked up a part-time job working at one. They get a certain amount of free or discounted passes a month to watch movies.

How do you avoid paying high ticket prices at movie theatres? Any ideas on how to save money?