Money is the #1 Cause of Stress in Relationships

Have you ever had a fight with your partner about money problems?

I’m guessing the answer is yes. If not with your partner, then with your parents, friends, or children. It happens to most of us- but it doesn’t have to.

“Money arguments never have anything to do with money.” -Gay Hendricks

couple arguing over money problems

Money = Values

When you’re arguing about money, you’re really arguing about what that money stands for. When your husband gets mad at you for buying another pair of heels, he doesn’t see any value in those shoes. It’s money wasted that could have been spent on your beach trip this summer. But to you, these shoes are the key to feeling confident in that work presentation next month!

And sure, those shoes aren’t the only way to boost your confidence. But the point is, when you focus on the money problems, you totally miss the real problems. When you focus on what you’re experiencing from spending the money (that boost of confidence), then you can talk about what truly matters.

How to Prevent the Money Fights

Did you know that 20% of Americans are hiding debts from their partners? What?! And how would you ever know if unless you starting talking openly about finances?

What if… you talked with your partner about your values around money? (Or your parents, your roommate, or whoever you have a close financial relationship with.) It’s so understandable to feel intimidated by this. But I promise you can do it!

75% of Americans are experiencing financial stress. So even if your partner is initially defensive, there’s a huge benefit to both of you for being on the same page and supporting each other. Arguing and resentment will only increase the stress you both feel.

Talk BEFORE the drama starts

If you’re in a new relationship or moving in with a new roommate, you have a great opportunity to bring up money before it becomes a sore subject.

Time your conversation right

Choose a time when you both have nothing else to focus on and when you’re calm. Think about when your partner would be most open to having this talk. My boyfriend knows not to bring up important issues in the morning, because I am incredibly grumpy when I first wake up!

Be curious

Your goal is to understand your partner, his values around money, and what he spends money on. Go ahead and tell him that up front- it will help ease any tension you both may feel. This is not about judging his spending habits or him judging yours. Agree to be honest, respectful, and open to learning.

If you’ve already bickered over receipts for years…

You can still save yourself a lot of trouble by opening up a conversation! DON’T beat yourself up for all the conflict you’ve already been through- it’s only going to hold you back from making amends.

Keep learning

This isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime conversation; it’s a continuous process. If you don’t understand why he spends so much money on the Comcast sports package, ask what it means to him. If he is frustrated that you want to him to help you , ask what’s going on. There’s always more to it than we assume. Stay open, honest, and curious.

What to Talk About

You don’t need to use all of these, but here are some great starting points.

Savings

  • Retirement– Do you want to retire early? What options does your workplace give you?
  • House Down Payment– Do you want to buy a house? If so, when? How much do you want to put down?
  • Kids/College Funds– How many kids do you want? How much do you want to save for them?
  • Investments– Do you have a brokerage account? What investments do you already have, and what investments are you interested in pursuing?
  • Emergency Fund– How much do you want to have saved? What qualifies as an “emergency”?

Bills

  • Rent– What are you comfortable paying? How will you split rent- 50/50, whoever makes more pays more, whoever has the biggest room pays more? How long are you planning on renting together?
  • Mortgage– What are you comfortable paying per month? What kind of loan can you get based on your credit?
  • Cable– What experience do you want to have? Is it worth paying for?
  • Any other bills you pay monthly– Can you pay less? Do you want to pay less?

Debt

  • Student loans– Do you have any? What’s your plan for paying them off?
  • Other Debt– Do you have credit card debt? A mortgage? What’s your plan for paying it off?
  • Credit scores– What’s your credit score? What has impacted it?

Accounts

  • Will you have all your money in joint accounts? Or yours, mine, and ours buckets?
  • If you decide to have separate accounts, who pays for what?

This is mainly for married couples, but it’s important if one of you makes significantly more than the other.

Spending

  • Shopping– How often are you planning on shopping? How much will you spend on clothes? Do you shop online when you’re bored? Who pays for the shopping?
  • Food– How often will you eat out? How often will you cook at home? Do you prefer the hot new brunch restaurant or the hole in the wall BBQ place?
  • Presents– Who will you give presents to, and in what situations? How much will you spend? Will you pay for presents together or separately?

Travel

  • How often do you want to travel?
  • What kind of trips do you want to take? Where do you want to go?

Some people love driving to a nearby beach every summer; some people love going to Thailand or Greece. How you like to travel can say a lot about you, your values, and your spending habits.

Check out my guest post on MustardSeedMoney.com to learn how to plan and budget for your next trip!

Don’t Get Discouraged

If you and your partner have totally different ideas about money, that’s ok! The important thing is that you’ve started to communicate and be aware of what matters to you.

Good luck!!!

Let me know below- What can you do to prevent future arguments about money?

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Sources

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/04/money-is-the-leading-cause-of-stress-in-relationships.html 

https://havenlife.com/blog/when-did-you-and-your-better-half-discuss-finances/

 

How to Save Money for Your Dream Vacation

Where would you rather be today: Italy or your office?

Do you have a dream vacation that you want to save for? Knowing how much you need is the first big step towards making your dream a reality. I used this plan to save for a backpacking trip in Europe, and I’m currently using it to save for a six month sabbatical. Once you know how much you need to save, you will have leverage and motivation to meet your savings goals on time.

The Dream Vacation

The minute I came back from studying abroad during college, I started planning my next trip to Europe. I convinced my best friend that we should do a six week backpacking trip through Italy, Austria, Germany, the UK, and Ireland. I love spreadsheets and planning, so we started our research right away.

Choose Your Experience

Our first step was to determine what kind of travel experience we were looking for. Since we were backpacking and still in college, we went for a low budget trip. Safety and cleanliness were important, but we wanted to experience hostels, street food, and public transportation.

There are a lot of steps on the “luxury” scale, from hostel life to five star hotels, and each option has its pros and cons. The experience you want to have will determine how much you need to save. Take a minute and write down how you picture your travel experience. What three words would you use to describe your trip? For my backpacking trip, I would have chosen safe, cheap, and local. In other words, I wanted to be in a safe neighborhood and experience local life for the lowest price possible.

Once you have an idea of the experience you want, you can start your price research.

Want to Read More?

Head over to MustardSeedMoney.com to find the rest!

Transform Your Goals

The Power of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking can be SUCH a powerful tool. It has been shown to reduce stress, lower depression rates, and increase cardiovascular and physiological health. So why not use this simple technique to help you transform your goals?

use positive thinking to transform your goals

Focus on What You Want to Do Instead of What You Want to Avoid

Say you want to stop eating out at work so much because it’s draining your budget and making you feel like crap. If you constantly think “I need to stop eating out”, what are you thinking about? All the restaurants you could be eating at and how much fun your coworkers are having!

Instead, try this- “I want to bring my lunch from home more often.” Now, when you see your goal written down or think about it, you are focusing on what you WANT to do. You already have bringing your lunch from home on your mind, so it’s that much easier to follow through.

You can do this with your reasoning behind the goal, too- instead of worrying about draining your budget and having a food coma, you can focus on saving more money and having energy. Because guess what? If your mind hears the words “feeling like crap” all day, that’s exactly what you’re going to get!

Why Does This Help?

First, you’re in a better mood when you’re thinking good thoughts instead of negative thoughts. When I focus on what I can’t have, I find myself wanting it even more. Not helpful, plus it makes me grumpy.

Second, like attracts like. Have you ever had one bad thing happen that snowballed into a really sucky day? Or you get one piece of good news, like a job offer, and suddenly get the good news starts rolling in? When you’re thinking positive thoughts intentionally, you attract more positive thoughts and eventually positive action.

Finally, studies have shown that our brains can’t process negatives as easily- meaning they don’t distinguish between “Do not spend money” and “spend money”. That’s why when you decide to break your shopping habit, suddenly new clothes are all you can think of.

Turn Your Goals and Intentions into Positive Statements

Think of a goal you are working on now. How can you reword it into a positive statement?

Here are a few examples to help you out:

  • Don’t overspend -> Stay within my budget
  • Eat fewer sweets -> Eat more whole foods
  • Don’t pick fights with my boyfriend -> take time to talk with my boyfriend and understand why he makes the decisions he does
  • Decrease stress -> Take time to relax each day

You may also find that when you rewrite your goal into a positive statement, you spend more time thinking about what you actually want to achieve. For instance, when rewriting “eat fewer sweets”, I could have chosen several alternatives: eat more whole foods, start counting calories, losing weight, etc. I decided that eating more healthy food was my real focus, which says a lot about how I value food and my weight.

Now It’s Your Turn

What goals can you rephrase? Let me know in the comments?

Are you having trouble rewriting your goals?

My guide to setting goals can help.

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Mayo Clinic Report on Positive Thinking

Photo Credit- DeathToTheStockPhoto (Meticulous Package)

Psychological Science Report on Processing Negative Statements 

April Favorite Five

Here are my favorite five things from April!

Favorite Splurge: Massage

Everyone has that super luxurious but slightly guilty hobby… I LOVE massages. And I’ve stopped feeling guilty about getting them! I feel invigorated yet relaxed for several days after I get one. I’m a huge fan of Future Perfect Massage, but I really recommend trying out a local massage therapist wherever you are located.

Favorite Meal: RamenRamen Momofuku Favorite Five

I have had ramen only twice, but I’ve loved it both times- once in Nashville at Otaku Ramen and once in DC at Momofuku. Anyone have good recommendations for Ramen in Atlanta? I need to find somewhere in my own city!

 

Favorite App #1: OverDrive

I normally have a favorite book, but I haven’t read anything new this month! That rarely happens for me- reading is one of my favorite hobbies.

I have, however, been using OverDrive to listen to more books while in the car. I’m a huge fan of public libraries, and I rarely buy books. So while idea of Audible sounds cool, I don’t like the costs. OverDrive is linked to my local library account, however, so I can rent audiobooks straight from my phone! You can also rent ebooks on your phone, but I prefer reading ebooks on my Kindle or physical books.

While I haven’t listened to anything new recently, Five Presidents by Clint Hill, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and Lost and Found by Geneen Roth are a few favorites I’ve enjoyed on OverDrive.

Favorite App #2: Insight Timer

Insight is the meditation app that I use every morning. Like OverDrive, it’s a great free alternative to popular paid apps. There are over 5,000 guided meditations, sorted by topic and by rating. There’s also a timer for silent meditation, which is what I use. The timer has the option to set interval bells throughout the meditation to bring you back to the present moment.

Favorite Podcast: The Kate and Mike Show

Kate Northrup, the author of Money: A Love Story, and her husband and business partner, Mike Watts, talk about life, love, and business. I look forward to this podcast every Tuesday morning and have used so many of their tips in my own life and business! Plus they are hilarious and fun to listen to. Definitely worth checking out!

What great finds did you have this month?

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Net Worth Update: April 2017

It’s time for my monthly net worth update!

Asset Total Monthly Change Percent Change
Wells Fargo (401)k $20,407.75 +$948.46 +4.87%
Betterment- Brokerage $13,512.97 +$410.79 +3.14%
Synchrony- High Yield Savings $4,443.57 +$1,217.84 +37.75%
Checking Account $934.82 -$46.47 -4.74%
Total  $39,299.11  $2,530.62 6.88%

I’m so close to hitting the $40,000 mark! I didn’t meet my savings goal for April due to some unexpected car costs this month, but I will definitely reach the $40,000 mark in May. I am setting aside $1,117 in May to put into my brokerage and high yield savings accounts- lower than my usual $1,500, also due to the car costs I mentioned.

Current status = 4.62% of my $850K goal saved.
Net Worth UpdateAgain, I do not include my car (or house, as I am renting) for two reasons: first, I intend to drive my car as long as I can safely hold on to it. Secondly, my main goal for tracking my net worth is to save up enough for early retirement (current goal- $850K, which I was able to bring down after lowering my expenses). For early retirement purposes, I only want to include assets that will continue to produce passive income.

A breakdown of the accounts I have and their progress this month:

Wells Fargo 401(k): +$948.46

This is my retirement account through my company. I contribute 6% of my income and take advantage of my company match, which is up to 6% as well. My Betterment brokerage account is my first priority, not my 401(k), because I don’t want to pay tax penalties for withdrawing money during early retirement. I use Smart401(k) to determine my allocations within the account and maximize returns. This increase is due to my normal contributions plus market increases.

Betterment (Brokerage): +$410.79

Betterment is my main account for my early retirement goal. I contributed $200 this month, and market increases accounted for the rest. While I’m focusing primarily on my sabbatical, I want to keep making regular contributions to Betterment as well. I’d love to have $15K in this account before scheduling my sabbatical so it will still grow while I don’t have a salary.

Synchrony (High Yield Savings): +$1,217.84

I use this as my Emergency Fund and as a place for short term savings. I’m working on replenishing my emergency fund to $15K as well as using this to save for a 6 month sabbatical from my full time job. On days when I’m struggling with my job, it’s nice to look at how much I have in this account already. I now have 29.62% of my goal saved!

Checking Account: -$46.47

A slight dip due to waiting on a reimbursement from work. It would be cool if I could keep this account exactly the same every month- technically, it should be possible, because my income is always equal to my expenses plus what I put it savings. But it doesn’t seem to work out that way in real life 🙂

Income and Expenses

Below is my updated Wall Chart for the month… you can see my income and expenses. The bottom line is income from my investment accounts- once this line crosses my expenses, I will have reached Financial Freedom! For more on Wall Charts, see my recommendations on building a better budget.

Do you track your net worth? Did you reach any milestones this month? Let me know in the comments!