How long have you been married?
We have been married for an awesome 5 and a half years.
On a scale of 1-10, how important are finances in a marriage? (1 being of little importance, and 10 being extremely important.)
We would say it is a 10. Financial issues can act as a negative catalyst to magnify other issues that can weigh heavily on a relationship. When you are in financial agreement with your partner, it can be a gateway to increased intimacy and strengthen marital bonds.
What are some common obstacles that hinder couples financially? (In general, and personally.)
Debt and poor credit are usually the biggest obstacles. Setting financial goals can help with getting out of debt. Overspending is another obstacle that impacts a lot of relationships. Having a monthly budget can help control spending behaviors and help with getting bills paid on time. Over time, reducing your debt to income ratio and paying your bills on time will have a positive impact on your credit score.
It is important to remember that having poor credit causes everything to be more expensive. Car payments are higher. Car, Home, and Rental insurance cost more. Getting a mortgage for a home is more costly from higher interest rates. Improving your credit score can save you thousands of dollars a year, that you can be redirected and put to work for you and your household.
Share how you make financial matters a priority?
For many, personal finance is something that is not discussed. It is not talked about between husband and wife. It’s not shared with children. It is not discussed in social circles with family and friends or coworkers. Financial Matters are taboo. We make financial matters a priority by taking the taboo out of talking about money. We have open honest and regular discussions about our money, financial goals, and monthly budget. And whenever possible we socialize behaviors and best practices for managing our personal finances. Everything we do plays a role, directly or indirectly, in us achieving our financial goals. Having financial goals helps make financial matters a priority.
What is your favorite financial resource?
Of course, The Wealth Culture Academy and our flagship e-course Budgeting is BAE. The Wealth Culture Academy is an online resource we created to help grow financial literacy in the African American Community and beyond. Budgeting is BAE is an e-course we designed to help African American women learn how to master their money by budgeting. We wanted to share the things that we have learned during our journey to financial freedom. We have uncovered a lot of nuggets along the way that we wish we learned years ago. We feel obligated to share as much as we can with as many people as we can. Financial success is possible for everyone, as long as they know the behaviors to foster it.
For us, our financial enlightenment began as we read the book, The Richest Man in Babylon. We also follow other personal finance educators like His and Her Money and Tiffany The Budgetnista.
What is the greatest financial advice you ever received?
One of the most impactful pieces of financial advice we have received was to start an emergency savings account. Once we set aside money for emergencies, we found that the emergencies seemed to stop happening. And it wasn’t so much that emergencies didn’t happen to us anymore. We were just more prepared when they occurred. The panic and the need to rush and make a financial decision was removed. And we began to see that often, things that became emergencies because we were unprepared weren’t really emergencies. They were just unexpected situations. We then decided that we needed to give our emergency saving a more defined purpose so it is to only be used in a real emergency. We created a separate savings for unexpected situations. We want our emergency savings to stand alone and be available to cover things like loss of income and the need to cover household expenses for a designated amount of time.
Share something you wished every couple knew about finances before getting married.
We wish every couple understood the power of bringing their money together as one. Far too often we hear couple share about keeping their money separate. And when they get into the reason for keeping their money separate it usually is more of a trust issue than an actual money issue. And when that is the case. The couple really needs to work to resolve the trust issue. Once that is done, concerns about bringing money together are pretty much all but eliminated. There are some behaviors that all couples should practice so that bringing money together becomes fruitful. Being open and honest about all financial situations with one another is key. You can create a safe place discussion with your partner to ensure the other person is comfortable putting it all out there on the table. The only way to fix things that are broken is to know it is broken. This will also allow both people to know the financial strengths and weaknesses of the other. And bringing money together doesn’t mean you lose the ability to spend money individually. This is one of the biggest fears many couples have about bringing money together. Once the money is placed in the same pot, it can be planfully distributed. Each person can have an “allowance” to cover their personal spending needs. By first bringing all of the money together, the couple can ensure that their financial goals have priority over individual spending.
Do you believe couples should have joint accounts?
YES! Two is always better than one. Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. More importantly, every couple should have financial goals and budget to meet those goals. Having financial goals along with a budget naturally puts in place a money management system or process that evolves over time.
What advice would you like to give couples concerning the importance of estate planning?
Make it a priority! Every now and then we see someone share gofundme accounts on social media to help cover expenses related to an unexpected death. Estate planning can help prevent the need for that. Also, a lot of wealth is lost to taxes when you are forced to go through probate because there is no legal will to express the sentiments of the deceased party.
We also need to look more at creating trusts. Some benefits of having a trust: You can put conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die; You reduce estate and gift taxes; You can distribute assets to heirs efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate court. A trust also allows you to better protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits.
When you go from one spouse working to both working should the spouse who just started working pick up bills, pay off debt or invest?
This goes back to having financial goals and a budget. Anytime there is a sustained change to income you will need to revisit your financial goals and monthly budget. If paying off debt is already a financial goal, it’s natural for the new income to be directed towards debt repayment. If investing is a priority, then the new income is directed towards investments.
It is also good to have a plan for unexpected money. Every now and then we all get unexpected money. For instance, let’s say you are meeting a friend for lunch and they pick up the tab. You were expecting to pay for the meal but your friend paid. The cost of the meal is unexpected money. You can use the money you would have spent on lunch to go towards emergency savings or an investment. Having a plan allows that money to be put to work.
What does being “Beautifully Bound: Financially Secure” look like to you?
It means that your money looks good on the outside and inside. You never want to be the couple with a nice house who can’t afford to put furniture in it. It means you have a financial plan in place, with a budget acting as a roadmap to help you follow your plan. It means you have savings to cover emergencies and unexpected situations as well as savings to help secure your future. It means you have money directed towards investments to grow your legacy and wealth as well as create security for future generations. It means you are working well financially as a couple. With financial security, you foster a bond that strengthens your love for one another and your marriage.
Connect with the Myhands on social media.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples stay in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Poplar via our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.