marital money mantra #2: protect what you can’t afford to lose
August 26, 2007

Sweet cash kitty

We learned a lot from our own cycles of incur-credit-debt-yet-not-build-savings. We still have credit card debt (from mis-calculating last year’s tax payment); yet we’ve for the first time built a cash kitty, four months of expenses, with plans to secure one year’s worth since we function on a single steady income.

It’s tough changing one’s perception of what is or is not a valuable financial habit or philosophy. I heard throughout life about debt-is-bad-pay-it-off but not as much insistence on building cash reserves aka rainy day protection. I realize saving philosophies have certainly been around for ages; cash reserves (and truly reserving them for emergencies vs a Mets game…) — just weren’t emphasized as much in my personal community.

After six years of marriage, four cats, and $6k in pet surgeries it became clear viewing a credit card as an emergency cash plan lacked….prudence. Emotionally we couldn’t afford to lose the various cats & financially, we decided we couldn’t afford to personally finance continual debt cycles.

Thus dedication to building cash reserves began as did researching pet insurance(!).

More from:
-ASPCA offers diverse pet insurance plans & good customer service;
All Financial Matters says it well: Emergencies will come whether we are prepared for them or not.

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marital money mantra #1: overt & unified approach
August 23, 2007

HUSBAND-WIFE ROLE PLAY:

During the first years of marriage, our conversations on spending splurges went down like this:

The husband likes books – admirably. And sure I’m addicted to eating out with friends & travel.

With books though, Sean’s a read-it-once-learn-it type of brain & is a strong visual learner. Books are his friend. It’s a learning style that differs heartily from my own. I love a good Edith Wharton novel & a few graphs from business books. But I just did not appreciate his relationship with books as they related to his well being.

But more than that, his book buying irked me because deep down, I knew our family finances were shaky with our unclear financial philosophy convincingly…unclear.

Once we took actionable steps toward more stability, my emotional freak-outs eased considerably. It helps that my husband owns a really laid-back demeanor toward home finances a.k.a. “That sounds good baby!” — his reply to many suggestions tossed out for discussion.

Our facilitating questions on the topic:
–Do we agree that saving for present & future is worth it? …get mutual buy in first; establish tactics later.

–In what ways does money affect your sense of self? …sounds corny but ask. Do they want 100% control? Do they care if you do? Do you feel like a ‘less-than man or woman’ with someone else handling the bills? In what ways do you crave financial autonomy or partnership?

–How do you like to play? e.g. books, tech, travel, hobbies

–If saving & investing for your overall health is the driving goal, what are you/we willing to financially modify – or not – toward the play stuff?

I’ve heard of spouses going out of town for the weekend with the other spouse staying home. Upon return, there’s a newly purchased car in the driveway. That actually happened with my parents. Yikes that was a cherished family moment in Mustang, Oklahoma; and looking back – there were power struggles & self images at work, all tied up with money.

If at all possible, make all that overt…with some flexible conversation on what’s the healthiest, happiest shared value on money that you can agree on.

Bottom line, if all this becomes open, then spending becomes all the more fun & relaxed. …since you’ve as a team asserted responsibility toward your driving financial goal.

More from:
1) Gerri Willis, clear, straight shooter;
2) Kiplinger & financial unions;
3) Women Today mag & couples (I like what’s said about learning what constitutes a major purchase).

new videoblog, new reality: bringing business home
August 9, 2007

After years in sales and managing teams, I hit ‘the wall’ — that black hole thick fatigue which demands a life change.

Change I say, change!

My husband happens to love his work and agreed his wife needed to change situations. So I resigned last year as sales manager for an HR firm, plunging into online video production. Why? It’s a fun part of Web 2.0 and really just fun period.

Then after some video projects, collaborations, and client work I lost focus big time. Video was still fun but I wasn’t renewing momentum. Was I bored? procrastinating? or my favorite self-esteem ripping comment — just lazy?

It turns out my interests in business planning were crying out to my deaf ear. And it took me a long time to finally listen. I stepped back and observed the life with my husband: we were emotionally awesome yet the remainder of our partnership looked imbalanced e.g. clutter at home, no living will, neither of us knew how to cook or invested the time in learning, and why did that retirement account still look empty despite us philosophically supporting savings, retirement plans, etc?

After answering these questions more directly (…wasn’t pretty learning how much we sank on eating out), I knew that more urgent than learning how to be an expert video tech was learning how to balance my (our) home situation. Our future would have little options without this direction.

With a few months under the belt of analyzing what needs to be done & taking action, it’s clear my liberal arts degree and experience in sales have awesome challenges ahead. It’s really, really a blast.

Asset Management. Communications. Stewardship. Negotiation. Networking. Cooking (yes it’s fun, necessary-duh!, and a preserver of the bottom line). Retirement savings. Retirement savings for parents.

This egotistical-feminist-video-producer has had her reality check of what a strong home life is — and is not.

That’s what this blog is about.