MMS069: How to Talk About Finances When Your Partner has Different Priorities

MMS069: How to Talk About Finances When Your Partner has Different Priorities

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Executive Summary

Navigating money issues in a relationship can be tricky. How can you accommodate different spending priorities with your partners? How do you discuss your finances, and how can you compromise with your choices?

Join us as Talaat and Tai McNeeley of His And Her Money join us to provide tips for how to talk about finances with your partner.

talk about finances



Click to read full transcript

[0:00:02] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Let’s Talk Money.
[0:00:18] GC: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Money can be the destroyer of relationships. When two people aren’t on the same page financially, it causes a level of stress that many couples can’t survive through. Tonight, we have Tai and Talaat of His & Her Money to help us discuss how to talk to finances with your partner when you have different priorities financially. Welcome to our show.
[0:00:42] TM: Hey, we’re happy to be here, thanks for having us.
[0:00:45] GC: Glad to have you and the members of our Money Mastermind Show as most people are aware, we have Kyle Prevost of, Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds, Peter Anderson of Bible Money Matters, Tom Drake of the Canadian Finance Blog and I’m Glen Craig of Free from Broke.
If you are out there watching us and you head over to our event page, there is an app there so you can ask live questions. So if you have questions about talking to your partner about financial priorities, ask it. We would love to answer them.
So, let’s just throw it out there. Why is it so hard for couples who otherwise are going to share every secret and desire and everything about themselves, why is it so hard for them to all of a sudden talk when it comes to money?
[0:01:38] TM: Money is emotional, whether that emotion is positive or negative and it’s a tough conversation to have. I mean we’ve even talked to a husband and wife who have a background in therapy, in family and relational therapy and they have a tough time talking about money because money just evokes a different level of emotion.
It could come from your upbringing, some of the things that you saw growing up in relation to money that may have left some scars or may have developed some habits that don’t mix and mesh with your partner and so therefore, the topic of money because of our various different
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styles, our various different upbringings, our various different backgrounds when it comes to money makes it a tough topic to navigate especially in the context of marriage.
[0:02:35] GC: So what is it about money though that gets so emotional about it? Like why is it that we clam up when we start talking about that? I mean we could talk about all sorts of other craziness. You fall for that person, it’s like you are talking at four in the morning and all your hopes and dreams, but all of a sudden, this comes up and we’re just done.
[0:02:35] TM: I mean if you think about it, just think about the fact that money has a direct correlation with how you feel, either you’re stressed or you’re at peace and that can be completely tied to the balance in your checking and savings account and because of that, because of how you feel when it comes to your money even if you’re not intentionally trying to feel a certain way in regards to money, you do.
When bills come in and you don’t have enough, you can’t help that emotion or when a bill comes in and it’s no big deal, that peace that you feel is not something that you strive or seek out, it is something that happens. And so now, like in our case, naturally I’m a spender and naturally she’s the saver and then we get married and now we look at money, we use money very differently.
Now, when she’s talking to me about money from her vantage point, it’s as if she’s speaking Chinese like, “I don’t know what you’re saying. What do you mean savings account? What is a savings account? Why would I save the money? I would rather go and get a shirt,” but it’s just the language can be different. It could be like you speaking a different language if you’re not careful.
[0:04:08] TM: Right and then too, I think when it comes to especially talking about money with your spouse, you don’t really want to be accountable and money causes you to be accountable to your spouse. Whether you are spending it the wrong way or spending it the right way or whether you are saving it or you’re not.
I think sometimes especially in our marriage we’re like, “Wait a minute, you’re not my mother. You’re not my father so I shouldn’t have to explain to you what I’m going to do with my money,”
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and because it causes us to be accountable and I don’t think that a lot of relationships or I don’t think that people like to be accountable at all times.
[0:04:40] GC: That’s interesting because is it that people don’t want to put those restrictions on themselves because this sounds like something that is very similar to why a lot of people don’t want to budget, right? And we always hear how great it is to budget, it is so important to budget, you could easy control your finances by budgeting but I think a lot of people don’t want to put a limitation. Like, “Look, if I want to spend $50 on movies, I’m going to spend it. I don’t want to have to move it to the letter of some other law.”
[0:05:06] TM: Absolutely.
[0:05:06] KP: It’s bad enough making your own budget, now you got someone else making your budget for you. Talk about emotion on that. Yeah, certainly that can come into play I think especially when people are just so feeling out, living with each other and combining bank accounts for the first time.
[0:05:24] PA: Yeah, you guys made a point too how, when you’re getting together as a couple for the first time, you can really be coming at the whole thing from a different perspective. Money means different things to different people. For the husband, it might mean freedom or along those lines.
For the wife, maybe it means security and when you’re coming at it from a different viewpoints to start with, a lot of times you’re not even in the middle of the mill because you’re not speaking the same language like you guys are saying.
[0:05:52] GC: Do you think some of the problem though is okay, we’re saying how maybe it’s a different language, maybe we’re on different pages but that part of the problem is we wait a long time before we even start talking about it? Like I imagine a lot of couples don’t necessarily go into deep financial conversations early on. Then you think everything is fine, you get married and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Okay, let’s talk about this”, “Whoa, wait a minute, who is this Jekyll and Hyde person I’m talking about now?”
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[0:06:22] KP: Yeah and I know at least amongst, I think I can still call myself young safely, much to my students’ chagrin maybe. I think amongst younger people even younger professionals that build up student debt, I’ve heard the phrase toss around and I’m not sure who came up with it. So I’m copyright plagiarizing someone here. But the phrase “sexually transmitted debt”, the STD talk that you have to have with your partner and it is super taboo amongst young people.
Again, I think it’s easier for young people to be straight up with different partner baggage that they have in their past than it is about their financial past. It is a conversation that I think a lot of people dread. There may be only put a bit of these by the fact that we’re all sort of in debt, it seems with young professionals and so yeah, it’s definitely an awkward sort of first date. It’s not romantic and so when and at what point do you sort of break down that wall? I don’t know what the best answer is but I know that it does affect your compatibility.
[0:07:28] MM: Right, anyways that was a Madam Money. [0:07:33] KP: Nice, thanks Miranda.
[0:07:34] MM: It’s the truth.
[0:07:36] KP: Just so we don’t get sued here.
[0:07:38] MM: Yeah, well I want to make sure we get out of that, that’s charge after. That’s Terry Jackson that was super fun. Our financial STD’s so yes.
[0:07:47] TM: That is really very funny but yeah, I think that conversation is definitely lacking in the pre-marital stage but even if you do have the conversations like for us, we have money talks, we have money conversations but we didn’t have transparency like 100% transparent ones. As a matter of fact, I hid the fact that I had so much debt from my soon to be wife out of fear.
So again, everybody bring different baggage when it comes to finances and so for me, I had made a bunch of financial mistakes and I was trying to recover and then I fell in love with
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somebody who was in the financial services industry, had a degree in finance, had no debt, had perfect credit.
[0:08:33] TM: Total opposite.
[0:08:33] TM: And that’s who I fall in love with, right? So now, how do I tell that person that I have tens of thousands of dollars of debt because of all the financial mistakes that I’ve made? That’s a tough conversation to have. She’s going to run away if I tell her, at least that’s what I thought in my mind. And so I tried to figure out a way to do it on my own. To try and fix it before the marriage, which was a completely failure and we have to have that tough talk.
And the problem is with most couples, they just ignore the topic. They just see that, “Oh, he pays for dinner all the time so he must be doing alright,” right? We make a lot of assumptions, we don’t have a lot of discussions and so you get engaged, you get married, you go to the honeymoon, you come home and here we go, let the fun time begin! Because now, you get to see what’s really real and what really isn’t.
Then a lot of times, that’s when the trouble starts because of that lack of preparation ahead of time. I mean it’s not like you’ve got to come to your first date with credit reports and credit scores. But there should be some little small discussions that happen here and there and just slowly build it up and then when you’re at the point when you felt that this could be the one, then the conversation needs to be a little deeper.
[0:09:57] GC: Do you think it’s like, I mean you talked about fear. It’s like exposing maybe your self-worth and just all source of confidence? You come in and you’re confident about all these other things and now it’s like, “Wait a minute but maybe here I’m imperfect, maybe here I am a little bit of a failure,” and maybe you’re afraid to share that?
[0:10:18] TM: Yeah, it wasn’t a little bit. I felt like a complete failure. Complete and utter, okay? And that drove me to silence and it drives a lot of people to silence because when it comes to money, you either feel like a failure or a hero. You do because there is so much emotion invoked.
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If you didn’t come from the background of having been taught or trained in the area of personal finance which is the testimony of most people, then you go out there and you try to figure things out on your own. If you figure out things on your own by falling flat on your face, you do. You feel like a failure in that area. I don’t care what it is that you feel like you feel that you don’t want to talk about it.
[0:11:02] GC: It’s like a major measure of who we are, isn’t it? Money is always that big score card in the game and we always hold it, I don’t know if we hold it over each other but we certainly use this as a measurement of who we are. Right? You make more money, you’re a better person somehow.
So yeah, I can see that if you’re in debt and then somehow, maybe you’re a less of a person. It’s like a crime I lost and I wouldn’t be surprised if some couples or partners are more apt to talk about their prison sentences than their debt.
[0:11:37] TM: Yeah that’s a bad [inaudible].
[0:11:41] GC: And you’ve got to find it out easier I think than somebody’s debt.
[0:11:45] KP: The debt doesn’t leave tattoos on your arms Glen, so really that’s the lead in there but yeah.
[0:11:51] GC: Yeah. I mean it is a crazy thing though that there is that much of a fear and that much of a blockage in that conversation that we would talk about prison maybe before we would talk about this student loan debt maybe. I guess the big question is, how do we open up that conversation? How do we get people to start doing that? How do we make people understand that, “You know what? It’s kind of okay that we talk about these things?”
[0:12:22] TM: I think for us, we just had to be honest and open with each other and our faith is strong in God. We knew, “Hey, I’m either going to trust God or I’m not,” and with Talaat, he was afraid to come to me and to talk to me about his finances out of fear and you should’ve been afraid.
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MMS 69 Transcript [0:12:42] TM: Nah.
[0:12:42] TM: You know because I was a rock star when it came to my finances and things like that but actually, I did the opposite of what Talaat thought that I was going to do. When I saw that he was being open and honest and being truthful, I was able then to receive him a lot better. I was like, “Okay, wow this is somebody that I can trust,” and you know what? You’re not a failure because of this and because of your past, we can work past this.
But if you hold secrets from your spouse, I don’t care if it’s for good reasons or not, that’s not a good thing. It’s going to do nothing but chip away at the trust foundation and trust is huge in a marriage. So I didn’t want to enter our marriage with lies. So we tell a lot of couples that we consult with, we tell them, “Lay your cards on the table. You must be transparent regardless of whatever might come out of it, how your spouse might receive you or what not, you must be honest and do not do it for yourselves.”
[0:13:43] MM: What I think though, one of the things that you said was you were open to him and you weren’t mean to him and I think that’s important too because a lot of the time, we’re inclined to judge. When somebody comes to you and says, “Hey, I made this huge money mistake.” Your first reaction is, “How could you be such an idiot?”
Really, when you’re dealing with your significant other, you cannot be like that especially if you want to promote a good relationship. You do have to be willing to take that initial reaction down a notch and like you said, be open to them and be kind.
[0:14:20] TM: Yep.
[0:14:20] TM: You’ve got to understand that marriage is a union of two imperfect people and if you come into it with that understanding, you’re able to receive your spouse’s imperfections because you understand that you have some on your own.
[0:14:40] GC: I wonder also... Go ahead Peter.
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[0:14:41] PA: When you’re coming into that marriage and if you’re coming into the marriage as two selfish individual people that have their own wants and needs and desires. And in order for that marriage to work, you have to be able to create some sense of unity in that marriage. I was listening to one of your podcast with Kevin Bullard of Marriage Works. In that podcast, he was talking about how selfishness is such a huge problem in creating unity in marriage and in your finances. Do you think that really is one of the big things that’s keeping people apart and probably not transparent?
[0:15:14] TM: Yeah.
[0:15:14] TM: Probably number one, because you’re putting yourself on stage and putting your spouse down at the same time. Again, you are taking the view point of “this is your mess, you have these issues, you need to fix this.” and you’re not following the Biblical mandate that says, “Remove the log out of your own eye first,” right?
What happens is, you spent so much time pointing the finger at your spouse that you don’t realize that there’s three pointing back at you that you need to address and that is a huge divisive of trait of many marriages, unfortunately of many marriages and it is bigger than finance. That’s a fundamental core foundational issue.
That was what I was saying. It is so important to put all your cards on the table because you’ve got to lay the right foundation. Everything you build has the potential to fall down so yes, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be hard but you are laying a solid foundation. You are much more able to build a solid house if you do the hard work at the foundation level.
[0:16:29] GC: Do you think some part of it is, I think ideally when you talk to somebody it’s like saying, “Oh you know what? I have done this in the past, this is what I’m doing, this is where I am trying to go.” But do you think some part of it is maybe one partner is really not willing to change their finances and they don’t want to hear about it?
So, “You know what? I know I spend a lot, I know I put a lot of my credit card, I don’t want to be told, you know I am not willing to make that change and I’m not willing to clean it up and I’m not
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willing to maybe meet you at that point in my finances yet.” Do you think there is some part of that in some couples?
[0:17:04] TM: Oh yeah, I’m sure.
[0:17:06] TM: Absolutely.
[0:17:06] TM: Yeah, there we go with the selfish part in it, you know? Then you shouldn’t have gotten married because when you’re married, you should be accountable to your spouse. You should be in partnership with your spouse so yes, absolutely.
[0:17:22] TM: When we were facing or especially when I was single and deep at the apex of my debt, it was much easier to not open those letters than it was to face the situation. Like, “If I didn’t know what the balance was then no big deal,” right?
[0:17:41] KP: It couldn’t hurt you.
[0:17:43] GC: It wasn’t even like you were lying to your spouse or anything, you were lying to
[0:17:48] TM: Yeah because it’s more comfortable, it’s more, “It’s not that bad, I mean everybody’s got debt you know? No big deal.” But then, when you actually crack that letter open, it hits you right on the face and things get really real at that point. But what happens is, just like that in marriage, if you don’t deal with it, then it’s no big deal. And so a lot of people just chose to not deal with it, take the head in the sand mentality and think that they can just “la-la- la-la” and everything will be alright. That doesn’t work.
[0:18:22] GC: It’s like being a toddler, if you just cover your eyes nobody can see you. [0:18:24] TM: Yeah, exactly.
[0:18:27] GC: You know mind over matter, if I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
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MMS 69 Transcript [0:18:30] TM: Exactly.
[0:18:31] PA: I think another from that same episode with Kevin Bullard was, he gave the thing where marriage is like you’re in boat and you’re drifting. You are drifting due to neglect or busyness and you’re not really paying attention to things and if we aren’t paddling together the same way towards the common goals, you could end up going the waterfall, ending up in divorce or whatever the case may be. You do have to put in that hard work, paddling that boat so you don’t end up going over the waterfall.
[0:19:00] TM: Absolutely.
[0:19:01] TM: The way you broke it down was a really point about that drift is that it’s slow and subtle and you don’t even recognize it. It’s like, if you’re not putting in the effort into moving forward, you’re not standing still, you’re drifting apart. You’re drifting apart slowly but surely.
[0:19:18] KP: So if you don’t mind me asking Tai, I mean when you guys first have that conversation where you are laying all your cards on the table, did you feel obviously you’re going to listen and be compassionate. Did you feel that you had to educate your partner? Is that maybe too pedantic or I don’t know? How did you go about talking that out and maybe revealing some of the things that you knew about money?
[0:19:42] TM: Sure, well I don’t want to sound all pretty and everything at first but I was hurt. I was hurt at first because I felt like here it is, here is the man that I’m about to walk down the aisle to before God and everything and I found myself being as transparent and he was holding back. At first, after the initial hurt and everything wore off a little bit, I said, “Okay, we can do this”.
Because you have to keep in mind, I saw Talaat, he had a full time job. He was in the military but he was also delivering pizzas. I thought in my mind, “You couldn’t have told Talaat had any debt,” because he wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, was in the military, getting that check and living expenses and everything. So I thought he was just a hard hustle. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m about to marry somebody that’s on the grind.” You know what I mean? Like he’s delivering pizzas and yeah.
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[0:20:26] KP: He was a hustle. [0:20:28] MM: He is a hustle.
[0:20:29] TM: I had no idea that he was hustling to pay off his debt really quickly before we got married so I had no idea. So once all the cards are laid out on the table, I was able to then sit back and say, “Wow okay, now I see why he was doing what he was doing.” He’s no lazy. He didn’t physically or verbally abuse me, he was a great man. A great man of God, a great man to be and I was like, “Okay, you know we could do this”.
So like I said, we did a lot of praying but then we started to educate ourselves together. That’s what was the fun part about it. When I saw that my soon to be spouse was willing to change and willing to do whatever he had to do in order to free himself on his debt, I said “Okay, we can do this. Let’s do this together.”
We would watch episodes of Suze Orman, cause she was big back then, we would e-mail each other, like I’ll be at work and I’d find an article on MSN or whatever and I’ll e-mail it to him. I’m like, “Check this out.” We would get books together from the library or whatever and we would read them together. We were excited about our future financially.
[0:21:33] TM: Yeah man.
[0:21:35] KP: That’s such a cool story.
[0:21:37] TM: Yeah, I don’t think there’s no harm in saying that she did help educate me because again, this is something she went and studied in college, this is something that she did for a living and all I did for a living was spend money it seemed like. So I needed some education but like she said, she came in the trenches with me and we grew together.
[0:21:58] TM: And I never once, ever, we’ve almost been married for 10 years, never once ever round him back up.
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MMS 69 Transcript [0:22:05] MM: Except storytelling here of course. I know what you mean.
[0:22:07] TM: Exactly and except storytelling, you know but I never throw it in his face. I never said, “Well you did this,” or whatever and even if we had a disagreement or argument I never brought up his past financially because I know that that’s not who he is as a person.
[0:22:21] TM: And here’s another controversial approach that we took in 2015. At no point was it ever my debt after June 3rd, 2006. She never approached it, verbalized and treated it as my debt. It was always “our debt”, we have “our plan” and “we” worked together to destroy and eliminate “our debt” to become debt free together.
[0:22:44] MM: One of the things too that I notice about when you’re talking about it, you both seem to be very humble. Talaat is like, he’s like, “I am totally willing to learn. I’m going to do this.” And Tai is very humble about, well, she’s not lording it over him, willing to get in there. You both seem very humble together and I really like that because it means that you’re both teachable and you’re both willing to learn moving forward and I think that’s really a great thing and probably very helpful in your marriage.
[0:23:11] TM: Absolutely and let me tell you, I was the one with the better credit score then, paid off my card in cash and things like that but I have learned so much from this man over the past almost 10 years financially. As a matter of fact, his credit scores are a little bit better than mine now, go figure.
[0:23:25] KP: That’s awesome.
[0:23:26] TM: You know? But he inspires me to do better financially and to reach for the stars
so yeah, we’re both in it together.
[0:23:36] TM: I think that in marriage, it’s usually two different people come together to complete each other. I bring something that Tai doesn’t bring and Tai brings something that I don’t bring and that’s what marriage is. It’s two imperfect people, they’re going to remain imperfect because there is only one perfect person who’s ever been here but what you do is you steady strive in for perfection together and that’s the cool part about marriage.
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[0:24:04] GC: What you’re saying sounds really awesome and I think we don’t have a lot of couple, that’s almost as unique that you’re both coming into this with equal, “we’re both part of the same team and we’re going to make this better”. Which is certainly refreshing. I think a lot of couples don’t always come to that and even at this stage.
[0:24:24] TM: They don’t. [0:24:24] TM: Yep, that’s a fact.
[0:24:26] TM: They don’t and that’s why we, our message to a lot of couples we try to educate them and tell them that, “You’ve got to come together as one.” This is somebody that I said I want to marry.
[0:24:40] GC: You’re both part of each other’s story now.
[0:24:43] TM: That’s right. He’s good enough to be the father of my children so hey.
[0:24:47] TM: You know what? With personal finance, number one, it is personal and that’s where the emotional part comes in but if you can’t get your mind right, there is no strategy. I don’t care how many episodes of the Money Mastermind Show you watched, if your mind is not right, it is not going to work. And so if you’ve got messed up thinking, if you’ve messed up behavior there’s nothing that — we’ve got all this personal finance people on one show and they won’t be able to help you not one eye older until you get your mind right and so that’s why we take that approach. I mean we are still debt free for nine years now and we’re still willing to learn, we’re still willing to tune in to other people’s material to try to find something that maybe we can do better. That’s the approach that you’ve got to take. You’ve got to always be willing to learn. You’re never there.
[0:25:41] GC: There’s always room for improvement. Right?
[0:25:44] PA: And coming into our culture these days, a lot of people come into marriage
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whatever and they don’t go into that idea that they are going in almost with a servant’s heart to serve this other person, to love them and to always look out for their best.
To me, I think that really is part of the problem. People going with the wrong mindset thinking that marriage is going to make them happy or it’s going to fulfill them in some way. Do you think that is part of that as well?
[0:26:15] KP: And then that’s where that big wedding comes in, right Peter? It’s like, “Yeah, this is going to be fun for me and we’re going to have this huge celebration and then we’ll each keep our own bank accounts,” not that that can never work but it just seems like to me, a bit of a weird mentality toward building a life together, personally.
[0:26:32] TM: I agree.
[0:26:34] TM: Yeah, when we teach or speak, we like to bring up that there’s a big difference between a covenant relationship and a contractual relationship and unfortunately, way too many marriages are acting and operating as if they are business partners contractually instead of covenantal life partners and so it brings a different connotation if you are approaching your marriage as if you’re in a covenant.
Like Peter said, you are coming into it with a servant’s heart from both directions whereas if you’re coming into it and looking at it as a contract, you’re looking at, “Well, I got mine. You got yours,” and can you imagine? We know couples that have sat at the table, they’re out at a restaurant eating dinner and they’re trying to figure out who’s going to pay for dinner.
How is that a conversation that you have with your spouse? Like, “Who’s paying for dinner?” What is that? Does that sound like a marriage or a business partnership? Are y’all roommates or are y’all married?
[0:27:47] KP: My wife and I will often joke because we share the same credit card account. It’s just two cards so we’ll joke, “Who’s paying for dinner tonight?”
[0:27:54] TM: I’ll come and have dinner at your house and say, “Dinner is on me tonight”.
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[0:27:59] MM: That’s kind of interesting because fewer and fewer credit card issuers are even allowing joint accounts anymore.
[0:28:07] TM: Really?
[0:28:08] MM: Yeah.
[0:28:09] KP: Yeah, you have to ask for them.
[0:28:11] MM: Yeah, you have to ask for them. It’s not like an automatic thing anymore and some of them won’t even do it even if you ask.
[0:28:17] TM: Wow.
[0:28:18] MM: That is something so it is kind of interesting. [0:28:21] TM: That’s sad.
[0:28:24] KP: No, you can see why they might do that right? If they’re trying to assess risk and unfortunately, there is a great reason why we have this episode because there is a whole lot of relationships out there that aren’t working cooperatively like this. So you can see how that tug of war can result in putting your own finances in bind and then the credit card company in the bind after.
[0:28:44] TM: Yeah.
[0:28:46] MM: And I can say, to a certain degree as far as the credit cards are concerned, I can see why having them separate would be nice just from this standpoint of — I mean that is the hardest thing for us to do when we finally got divorced, was that joint credit card. The one joint credit card account, that was harder to manage than our joint bank account.
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With the joint bank account, all I had to do was sign something and now it’s just my bank account. But with the credit card account, it was a pain in the butt to get that closed and get that taken care of. It was harder than I thought it should have been.
[0:29:29] GC: It’s interesting how you talked about it like contracts and stuff like that. I mean historically, marriages weren’t always romantic, right? They were arranged. People were, “I’ll trade this for land, I’ll do this for that,” they were somewhat contractual and I think that there’s maybe even some cultural aspects of that even today.
Do you think some of the money problems in couples are locked into this “traditional roles”? Like one spouse should be doing this and the other one should be doing that? Like one shouldn’t be involved with the money, the other one should and that a lot of couples are still in that mindset?
[0:30:11] TM: I don’t know if that’s more prevalent than I think a bigger issue and a more common theme I get is two people who don’t want to relinquish their independence and so they want to both feel as though they’re standing on their own two, you get what I’m saying? It’s not so much of the woman should be home in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. Whereas, “I got mine, you got yours. I’ll take care of the mortgage, you take care of the utilities. I’ll take care of the cars, you take care of the childcare, and we got our own money.”
It’s more of a lack of wanting to be co-dependent and what they want is to have some resemblance or at least in their mind, they want to feel as though they’re still their own person. They don’t want to “get lost” or “lose themselves” in marriage and that leads — there’s no room for that stance of independence in a healthy marriage because it’s going to lead to something worse.
[0:31:18] GC: It sounds like you’ve got one foot in, one foot out and you’re not sure what you want.
[0:31:21] TM: You’ve already got an opt-out clause.
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[0:31:23] PA: It comes back to that trust issue that you were talking about earlier. If you’re not transparent, if you’re not communicating and you’re trying to keep one foot here and one foot there, that trust really isn’t going to be building either.
So here’s a question for you, how do you guys actually structure the finances at your house? I mean do you have monthly budget meetings? Do you sit down and talk about your financial goals together? How is all that structured for you guys?
[0:31:51] TM: Yeah, absolutely. We do that every single month. We sit down, we do our budget together, now I’m the one that’s home majority, more than he is, majority of the time. So I’m the one that actually inputs it into our budget software but we both have a budget meeting. There is no money that is spent or allocated to a certain line category item without the both of us being involved.
[0:32:14] TM: Yeah and we do goals on a regular basis too. We think that that’s foundational. Again, that goes back to building that proper foundation. One of the first things you should be doing as husband and wife is dreaming together. It’s coming up with this plan, this vision for your life, this destination that you are trying to get to.
So every single year, we start the year up by saying what type of goals we have individually, collectively and we sit down, we write it down and we go back to check in on it and see where we stand. It’s fun because you are dreaming together. You are planning, you are living life, you are doing life together. Financial goals and goals in general, not just financial but life goals.
We do our budget every single month, before the month begins, Tai, like she said she lines it up but then we sit and we have discussions about it. We go back and forth but then we both come up with the final conclusion as to what the budget for the month will be.
[0:33:08] GC: It sounds like that’s a great way to actually just incorporate the “couple-ness” of it. When you have those goals, now you have these two things that is usually two separate people but now you’re both going to share in this one thing that you’re striving for.
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MMS 69 Transcript
[0:33:23] TM: It forces you need to communicate about your finances and if you could communicate about your finances, you can communicate about anything in your marriage.
[0:33:29] TM: True.
[0:33:32] GC: And that’s an unfortunate thing too, right? I think too often money and finances are thought of this “other” thing that’s separate from everything else. We can do everything else but then this thing is over there without the realization that really it’s tied into everything we do anyway.
[0:33:49] TM: Foundational. It’s a foundational issue. Peter, correct me if I’m wrong. Number one topic talked about in the Bible is finances.
[0:33:58] PA: Yeah.
[0:33:59] TM: It must have been pretty important. [0:34:02] PA: Yeah. I believe it.
[0:34:06] MM: So one of the things that I think is, you guys have talked about how you have different spending and savings styles and different kind of money priorities but when it comes to the big things like your big goals in life, I assume you guys are on the same page. Even though you might have different immediate priorities or different ways of getting there, I assume that moving forward and looking at the big picture things like what you want your retirement to look like and that sort of thing, I assume you guys are on the same page, is that correct?
[0:34:35] TM: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a topic that we put out and we revisit that. We’ve recently come across all these financial independence people so that’s a conversation we have like, “Hey, they’re our age and they are going across the world and they’re retired. How did they do that?” And so again, that’s just having fun and dreaming together.
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We think about things like that. We talk about, “You know what? When we get that big break, we’re going to get this house and it’s going to have this feature in it. We’re going to have this and that,” and it’s fun to dream together and come up with this goals together.
[0:35:12] MM: Yeah and I think that’s key because one of the things that I realized looking back on stuff is that even though my ex and I had always been like, “Yeah, it’s important to save for retirement,” we never talked about what each of us wanted that retirement to look like. We had completely different ideas of what we want life to be for everything.
So looking back, there are days that I’m just going, “How did we even last as long as we did?” Because some of that stuff was just not — when we started talking about it and I started really thinking about it, it just really wasn’t meshing.
[0:35:53] TM: I think retirement’s a tough talk because in your mind so far away so you don’t take it as serious as opposed to like if you’re saying you know you want to move in the next five years, you’re going to be more concrete and you’re going to be more defined in your conversation but if you’re talking about 30 years from now, it’s like, “Yeah, you know I would love to retire in Florida, that would be nice and play golf.”
But if you haven’t identified your retirement number like you don’t know and then you don’t have a backwards plan to figure out how much you need to be putting away and at what interest rate to get to that retirement number because it’s so far off. So you have to treat it like an immediate, although it’s a long range financial goal, you have to put the same amount of detail and preparation into it because guess what? Retirement is going to happen, it is going to happen.
[0:36:43] GC: And how you want it to look is really going to be depending on what you put into it.
[0:36:45] MM: Oh yeah.
[0:36:46] TM: It’s huge. I’m not trying to pass out stickers and say, “Welcome to Walmart at 65,”
so you got to do something about that.
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MMS 69 Transcript [0:36:51] TM: There is nothing wrong with that.
[0:36:52] TM: But nothing wrong with that. If you are wise to buy a piano and you are a checker at Walmart, it’s all good. It’s all good, but that is just not what I want to do.
[0:37:03] KP: And there is a lot of people that they don’t have that choice, one way or the other, that’s the point. If you chose to do that for any number of reasons, great. You want the social outlet then do it.
[0:37:11] TM: You can do it, if you want to stay active and what not, you know what I’m saying? But I’m trying to be on the beach.
[0:37:15] KP: That’s the point of financial independence. You have the independence to make that choice and if one of you wants to break in.
[0:37:21] TM: You have a choice.
[0:37:23] KP: My wife, it sounds crazy because we’re so young but I would be willing to bet, well my stock market account isn’t as large as some of the people on this show probably. But I would bet my entire balance that my wife would want to work to 65. She loves everyday of teaching young children. I would be willing to bet that there’s nothing that could tear her away from that. On her weekend she wants to do it.
[0:37:45] TM: That’s awesome.
[0:37:45] KP: Yeah, it’s crazy to me but I love it. I’m glad that she loves it that much so it might look different. Financial independence might look different for each of us and we have that conversation all the time about what goals within that that each of us might pursue but it doesn’t have to be one exact template for each couple that will work for everyone.
[0:38:08] TM: The point is that you all talk about it and you all plan a vision and set a destination that you all want to get to and then go for it.
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[0:38:15] TD: One thing that Kyle is getting there was it’s not really our retirement. You obviously have to talk about it as a couple but when it comes to retirement, you have to remember that it really is still your retirement because your spouse could die or you could get divorced but very rarely do couples actually retire on the same date. There is a little thing there where even though you have to talk about it as a couple and head towards that goal, there is sort of a bit of “my retirement” in that too.
[0:38:49] TM: Agreed.
[0:38:50] GC: Yeah, I guess one spouse retires before the other one, it could be a matter of years especially if there is an age difference. You’re not going to be running off to the Bahamas while the other person is still working a nine to five.
[0:39:02] KP: Right. And it seems crazy how few people will talk about that Glen. Like it’s unbelievable to me and then all of a sudden when this gets brought up, there’s this weird jealousy. I don’t know, I just noticed this a lot lately amongst parents of my students at school and it’s weird man. It’s like, “How did you not talk about this until you were both 55? Or 65 or 55. I don’t understand that.”
[0:39:23] GC: And that’s becoming an awkward thing too. Knowing that you’re going to wake up for the grind because somebody happens to be a little older than you or younger than you or whatever and they get to have a little more freedom than you.
[0:39:35] TM: They get to sleep in. [0:39:35] TM: Yeah.
[0:39:37] GC: Yeah, not that everybody didn’t pay their dues but yeah, why make that an awkward conversation when it happens? You know, talk about how you want it to be before then and interesting Miranda, you were talking about how there are these different things you didn’t know about financially necessarily and it seems like if you have those conversations and you include the money part of it.
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Like, “What do want this to look like? Where do we want us to be? Are we on the same page?” You really do find out what you have in common with your other person. You sort of maybe on a superficial level you have it but there might be other deeper things that maybe aren’t in common that you thought were.
[0:40:20] MM: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean part of it too, I love to travel, I like to go do different things but my ex never really cared for traveling much and it was something that we really didn’t think about. But when things were going down and he was asking for the divorce, I started thinking about it more and with the help of therapy and just realizing that looking back I’m like, “Yeah, so we had this thing.” He didn’t want to travel, we know I wanted to travel and what would our retirement years even look like at that point because we had such widely different ideas of what we wanted to do with our lives and when I sat down and started thinking about it and looking back on it, I was like, “This was a big blaring hole that maybe we should have addressed like, I don’t know, maybe 10 years ago?”
[0:41:15] PA: You know really, I wonder if that’s something that needs to be addressed too when you’re first getting together is finding out ways that you are different? Because when you’re getting married, you’re thinking about all the ways that were alike and we love each other and we have our faith in common, we have this in common.
Maybe you need to talk a little bit about the things that you don’t have in common that may arise to be an issue later on. Maybe it’s the one spouse wants to travel a lot and the other doesn’t or one is more of a spender and one is a saver.
[0:41:42] GC: And like you were saying, we are these selfish creatures, right? So what are we actually willing to give up? There’s always going to be that limit. We always say that we’re going to do whatever, but if that’s that thing that you’re not willing to give up, how does that fit into the relationship necessarily? Why is that going to stop you or how are you really going to combine things? Then, that’s your stopping point there on something.
[0:42:13] MM: Yeah for sure. I just think that having those big life goals in common, it’s not just like travel but it’s also things like how many kids do you want? Like I had a friend who was like, “I want,” — we never had that issue because we were both like, “One is good,” but I know I have
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friends who are like one of them wants maybe two kids and the other one is like, “I came from a big family. I want five or six kids.”
That’s a big thing, that’s a big sticking point that you run into. These are big emotional issues that people get hung up on and it’s not just about money. It’s about, well kids too are expensive and that’s money. Kids are money but it’s harder than money can count.
[0:42:58] GC: Or kids are a lack of money.
[0:43:00] MM: That’s right, or a lack of money but that’s still a big conversation you need to have and it does affect your finances and your life goals and everything else. I think having those conversations and making sure that you have all the same kind of big life goals. You don’t have to be exactly the same like you guys are saying earlier.
I mean part of the fun of getting married or finding that person is that person is a little bit different from you and brings those different strengths and has those different perspectives. But at the same time, on his big major issues, it helps if you guys are on the same page.
[0:43:35] TM: Yeah, I think it’s huge and again, you are different and that’s great. That’s okay, embrace the imperfections. Understand that that’s why you’re with that person, it’s to help make them better and they’re with you to help make you better. But like you said, when you lay out a road map or at least a final destination that you both would like to get to, now you can backwards plan on the steps and the paths and the avenues that it will take to get to that final destination.
If you do that together, if you go through those steps together, naturally you’re going to be on the same page and even if you stray a little bit, you have a common vision to look back on to help recalibrate and get you back on the right path.
[0:44:29] GC: You know it’s interesting Talaat? You talked about how you weren’t so money savvy maybe when you guys met but you certainly sound like somebody who’s on point now.
[0:44:38] TM: And he is, I am telling you.
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[0:44:41] GC: I mean that is so...
[0:44:44] TM: It’s almost 10 years, I should have learned something by now.
[0:44:47] TM: A lot of experience.
[0:44:47] GC: It’s been inspiring to hopefully a lot of people and do that one.
[0:44:51] TM: It is.
[0:44:52] GC: You really can get ahead around what your finances are and really take control of them and I guess when you have a good partner, that helps too.
[0:44:59] TM: Absolutely.
[0:45:01] GC: What I’d like to do is we’ll go around and let’s just get our final word on dealing
with our spouses in financial priorities. Tom, what’s your final word?
[0:45:11] TD: Beyond just couples, money is such a taboo topic. People need to not be afraid to talk about money. Certainly talk with your spouse or your girlfriend/boyfriend at the time and know what each other is about. Don’t leave it taboo just because you learned from from your parents and everything else. You just have to talk about money.
[0:45:35] GC: Peter, your final word?
[0:45:38] PA: My final word is when you’re going into marriage or something along those lines, make sure you’re going in together as a team, that you’re trying to create unity and that you’re working towards goals that you have together. And when you need to, make sure that you’re compromising with each other. Maybe you have to give up something that you wanted to do in order to let your spouse do something that they want to do. So work together, distribute the responsibilities in your finances and make sure you’re talking a lot and communicating.
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MMS 69 Transcript [0:46:08] GC: Miranda, your final word?
[0:46:09] MM: Just going back to make sure that you’re headed in the same direction and you have the same big goals in life so that you can work on this things together. You just really do need to have those discussions and figure out sure, you want to use this money for this stuff but what do we want our life to look like and do we want our life to look like the same thing.
[0:46:38] GC: Kyle, what is your final word?
[0:46:39] KP: As someone young in their marriage, this was a great episode. I love the humble — the humble quality, you can tell, it was like a secret ingredient or maybe a not so secret ingredient that made this all work together and I’m going to blatantly steal or borrow the phrase, “Dream Together”. I just think that’s way more inspiring than like budget together or keep track of expenses together. The idea of dream together, put that carrot on the end of the stick for both of you.
[0:47:07] GC: And Tai and Talaat, what’s your final word on financial priorities in a marriage?
[0:47:14] TM: Just know that people can change. Your spouse can change. Just because they may have had bad money mistakes or financial situation, does not mean that they can’t turn around from that situation.
[0:47:26] TM: And remember, that you want to mix marriage and money in a crockpot not a microwave. It takes time.
[0:47:33] KP: I like that. I like that. [0:47:37] PA: Put that on a bumper sticker.
[0:47:43] GC: So for our viewers out there that are maybe not familiar with His and Her Money, can you tell them a little bit about your site and what you guys do online?
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[0:47:50] TM: Yeah, we’re America’s number one money couple and we teach people how to manage their money, their marriage and everything in between. We have a podcast called The His and Her Money Show on iTunes and Stitcher radio.
We have a YouTube channel, We have almost 11,000 subscribers over there. We have over 150 videos over there just full of practical advice to help people get on the right path financially.
Our podcast is dedicated to personal finance advice and it has tons of debt free stories to help people be inspired to know that debt freedom is a real thing. It’s happening to real people and that they could be next. We could be found at
[0:48:40] GC: If your podcast and your site is any bit as informative and as fun as this episode has been, I’m sure people out there will get a lot of information from it and they’ll enjoy it. So head on over there. Thank you again for joining us and sharing your expertise with us and until next week, be good with your money. Good night.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on the Money Mastermind Show, get more information at Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes and YouTube and follow us on Google Plus.
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Important issues discussed in this episode:

  • Why is money so hard to talk about in a relationship?
  • The importance of understanding individual and shared priorities.
  • How to talk about finances with respect.
  • Tips for encouraging your partner to talk about finances with you.
  • Ideas for setting goals for your money as partners.

Panelists In This Episode:

For a quick bio of each of our show participants, head on over to our panelists page.

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