How to Work Together as a Couple to Get Out Of Debt

They say two heads are better than one. Well, not if those heads are butting over financial decisions like when and how to pay off debt.

Indeed, being on the same financial page as your partner is crucial. But when it comes to paying off your debt, this isn’t so easy. Take it from me. When my husband and I first started our financial journey, we had different ideas about how to approach debt. This created frustration on both ends and slowed down our progress. Eventually, we started working together and paying down debt aggressively.

To help you get on the same page as your partner right away, take a look at these 5 tried-and-true tips. Hopefully, this will save you time, money and frustration.

Be Open About Money

If you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important to talk openly and honestly about money. Plain and simple.

If you have skeletons in the closet when it comes to your finances or debt, it’s time to come clean. Financial infidelity and miscommunication can lead to money fights and often make the situation worse. Instead, plan money dates and lay it all out on the table. What accounts do you have? How much do you owe independently and as a couple? Although you don’t have to combine debt totals, this is recommended if you’re married or already living together.

It’s also important to discuss how your debt makes each of you feel. From there, you can work on steps to get out of debt and develop better money habits.

Work Together to Make Lifestyle Changes

When you work together as a couple to pay off debt, you shouldn’t view it as his debt or her issue that is hindering you from making progress. Remember: you’re in this together.

If you feel like your partner is a spender, talk to him or her respectfully and suggest some changes you can make as a couple. Maybe you can encourage him or her to start packing lunches to take to work, and you can do the same. Or, instead of going out to dinner and a movie every Friday night, maybe you can get into the habit of cooking dinner at home and going for a bike ride or to a free concert in the park. Odds are, you both may need to improve your money management habits. Why not work on it as a team and support each other?

Jen Hayes, who runs the blog Frugal-Millennial, says it takes teamwork and dedication to pay off debt as a couple. Hayes and her husband started out with $117,000 of debt in 2013 and they’ve already paid off $88,000.

“We both reduced our expenses and increased our income. We cut back on expenses by renting a room from my parents, driving an 18-year-old car, and finding free things to do for fun,” she says.

Hold Each Other Accountable

Paying off debt often takes time and requires sacrifice.

To this end, knowing that you’re not alone can be motivating. For this reason, think of each other as an accountability partner. My husband and I, for example, commit to weekly finance dates. This is a time when we talk about money in our household and discuss our debt repayment progress report. Checking in often reminds us that we need to stay on top of our goals – together.

Find Flexible Ways to Make More Money

When you put your debt balances together, you may be in for sticker shock. But, here’s the good news: your double income can help you pay off this debt faster.

You can also boost your earnings and improve your financial habits. For starters, if you and your partner both work, you’ll already have two incomes to consider when budgeting for debt payments. Then, if one or both of you start bringing in extra money on the side, you’ll likely be able to pay off your accounts even faster. Case in point: both my husband and I have side hustles to generate more money. You can do this too! Whether it’s babysitting, walking dogs, freelancing, or driving for a rideshare company, you just need a few hours each week to earn extra money on the side. You can then throw all of this toward paying off your collective debt.

Do What Works Best for You as a Couple

When asked how she and her husband paid off so much debt in just a few years, Hayes answered with this: “Do what works best for you as a couple.”

For some couples, this may mean moving back in with parents to save money. For others, it may mean cutting out gym memberships or swapping out expensive hobbies for more frugal ones.

While some people insist that all couples have joint bank accounts or weekly budget meetings, every couple is different. At the end of the day, you and your partner have to come up with a money action plan that you can both stick to.

 

4 Side Hustles You Can Do with Your Family

When you’re faced with budget difficulties, other well-meaning people suggest cutting expenses. But sometimes that simply isn’t enough of a solution.

The next common piece of advice you’ll likely get is to start a side hustle and earn more money. Unfortunately making that choice can really cut into family time. It may also be tough to do when you already feel like there isn’t enough of it.

So what’s the best solution? A side hustle you can do with your family, of course.

Taking on a side hustle you can do with your family has advantages. You can earn more money and still spend time with them. It also gives you the opportunity to teach them the value of money and hard work. Here are a couple of side hustles you could choose to do with your family.

1. Grow a Lawn Care Service

Not all side hustles are family friendly, so finding one a spouse or kids can help with may be tricky. One side hustle you can do with your family is to grow a lawn care service.

There are positives to choosing this type of business. For one, you get to spend time outdoors. Another is advertising through happy customers with great looking lawns who will refer you to others.

By building up a client base you’ll have repeat customers every week or so. You can use your calendar to keep a schedule so all family members can follow along. Use it to schedule as many jobs as you’d like according to everyone’s availability.

Obviously you’ll need an invoicing system as well as a little equipment. But family members can help pull weeds, sweep, use a leaf blower, and perform other small tasks. Older kids may be able to mow and use a trimmer too. Having help allows you to complete lawn care quickly and make more money.

2. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking

Having a side hustle you can do with your family may be easy if you like pets. Try pet sitting, dog walking, or both to get your family involved and making money along with you.

Not a lot of skills are required most of the time. Still, liking and being good with animals makes it much easier and more fun.

Young children will love helping with this job. It will give them an idea of what it’s like to start their own business while they’re still young.

3. Baking and Catering

An additional side hustle you can do with your family is baking and catering for others. To get started, try some recipes out on family and friends. Ask for referrals and advertise on social media to build repeat business.

To include your family, have them help do the tasks they can for their age. For instance, small children can carry non-food items that are not overly heavy or help with clean-up. Older children can probably do more of the actual cooking and baking.

4. Rent Rooms in Your Home

Need another idea for a side hustle you can do with your family? Try renting rooms in your home to travelers through Airbnb. Signing up is easy and your family can help out.

Have youngsters assist by stocking small toiletry items and towels. Older kids can clean and do other needed tasks.

Taking on a side hustle doesn’t have to mean sacrificing all of your family time. Choose a side hustle you can do with your family and you can have both while boosting your budget.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

Financial Infidelity: Do You Keep Money Secrets from Your Spouse?

Financial infidelity means keeping a money secret from your spouse. With a divorce rate today of about 50 percent, any form of infidelity could easily lead to a relationship breakdown. And while a little white lie about money may seem like no big deal, but financial infidelity is as serious as any relationship secret. Let’s take a look at how money and relationships intersect and what you can do to make your relationship as open, honest, and fair as possible with a focus on long-term relationship success.

Is financial infidelity a big problem?

Before we dive into how to solve money troubles with a significant other, it is important to understand the problem. If you fight with your significant other about money, you are not alone. A study last year found that 48 percent of American couples argue about finances. That is huge! Nearly half of all couples argue about money.

study from SunTrust found that money is the leading cause of relationship stress. The survey found that 1 in 5 Americans has made a purchase of $500 or more secretly without telling their spouse. Six percent of respondents go as far as to keep a secret bank account! If you don’t trust your spouse so much that you need to secretly keep money without their knowledge, you probably have bigger relationship and trust issues than just money, but money is clearly the big symptom of the discord.

How to avoid money fights in a relationship

There are a few specific personality traits and money disagreements that tend to percolate to the top. According to Elite Daily, here are the four biggest causes of money friction in a relationship:

  1. Spending versus saving – If you have a saver mentality and are dating or married to a spender, you know how frustrating it can be when your SO (significant other) splurges on even the smallest purchases. From a daily lunch at the local burrito or sandwich shop to a big dollar purchase online or at the store, watching money fly out the window can push you to the edge! If this is an issue in your relationship, consider the other’s perspective and try to calmly explain yours. Finding middle ground and creating fun money budgets for each half of the couple can help smooth things out.
  2. Expectations that one partner pays more – The battle over who pays goes far beyond the first date. Even long-time couples often have different views on who should be bringing what to the table. In many cases, the male is expected to pay for the majority of costs, even if both partners have similar earnings. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. Open communication and setting clear expectations can help avoid this little argument turning into a blowout.
  3. One partner earns a lot more – If you earn a lot more than your partner, or they earn a lot more than you, stress and double standards are probably not far behind. It is easy for the lower earner to expect the higher earner to pay more. But when income in a relationship is not distributed equally or distributed as earned, it can lead to resentment.
  4. Wants versus needs – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One partner’s need is another partner’s frivolous purchase. What one of you thinks is a need versus a want may differ. It is okay to have different values, as long as they don’t bust the budget. This is where a fun money budget comes into play. If you have a certain amount to spend guilt-free, you don’t have to fight over it.

Set shared goals but allow for individual freedom

In real life, things don’t always look like a movie. After the honeymoon period wears off, real-life goals, stresses, and obligations remain. Never go into a relationship expecting your partner to change. If you don’t like their money habits, it may be better to cut things off from the start. (Credit score dating anyone?)

When you do get into a serious relationship, you have many money questions ahead. As you tackle them one by one, remember that it isn’t reasonable to expect your SO to never spend money. Even if you are the primary income earner with a stay-at-home spouse, you have to expect that they will want to treat themselves every once in a while. And that’s just fine!

To find the right balance between family savings, shared fun money, and individual fun money, work together to create a good budget you can stick with over time. Tweak as necessary until you have it right and both of you are on board with the plan.

Work together for a financial infidelity free lifestyle

Just as you wouldn’t want to find out your significant other had a secret relationship on the side, it can be devastating to land on the wrong end of financial infidelity. If you are keeping financial secrets, it’s time to change that and move to an open and honest relationship with clear, trusted communication about money. If you suspect your spouse is cheating with money, consider confronting them for an honest discussion. Long-term financial success requires an effort on both sides, and with honesty and a team driven focus on your money goals, you can get on track for a long and happy financial future together.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

10 Low Cost Ways to Entertain the Kids This Summer

Ahh, summertime. For you, this may mean warm weather, beach days and lazy nights on the porch. It also may mean you’ve got kids at home to entertain. And this can get expensive.

Between activities, sports, lessons and camps, summertime costs can add up quickly if you aren’t careful.

To keep from overspending, it’s a good idea to create a budget as well as a summer savings fund. Plus, start looking around now for low-cost ways to entertain your kids without breaking the bank. To help you get going, take a look at our top 10 ideas.

1. Go to the public pool

Nothing says summer like long days at the pool. Fortunately, you don’t have to have your own pool to take the kids for a swim. Public pools are a great place to cool off and burn off some energy. Plus, public pools are usually inexpensive. For instance, the city of Los Angeles only charges $1 for a day pass for children under the age of 17. For adults, it costs $3.50.

Depending on where you live, you can often buy a single day pass or purchase a summer pool membership. So, do your research. You’ll be surprised at the array of public pools available.

2. Enroll in local classes and camps

Many clubs, recreation centers, and even schools offer affordable summer activities for kids.

To find activities near you, start by looking on your city’s website. You can also see if your local YMCA, school district, and place of worship offer summertime programs for kids. For instance, the city of Seattle offers a four-day camp for $250. And, the YMCA of Denver offers day camps for children between the ages of five and 12. These camps are four days long and cost $195.

Don’t forget to look around for cost-effective activities run by other local and national organizations. For example, 4-H, a nationwide organization that offers programs for kids ages eight to 18, holds meetings year-round.

3. Assign the kids projects around the house

Got older kids? Assign them projects around the house.

Whether you could use help with regular chores, some basic landscaping, or painting a room, kids are often eager to pitch in. Not only will household projects keep kids busy, but it will help you cross items off your to-do list. Plus, it can help teach children new skills.

Dr. Brittney Schrick, assistant professor-family life specialist at University of Arkansas, created a list of age appropriate chores for children. She stated that when children complete household chores, they gain confidence, life skills, and a sense of accomplishment.

Another perk: having your children help out around the house won’t cost you a dime, unless you choose to pay them an allowance.

4. Schedule playdates

What better way to entertain the kids than to invite other kids over?

Children are usually pretty good at entertaining themselves. So, consider hosting playdates at your house in exchange for sending your kids to your neighbor’s house on another day. You get some time to yourself while your kids are entertained. A win-win!

You may also want to invite other families over to your house for dinner or a BBQ. This way you can enjoy some adult time while the kids play.

5. Visit a local museum

Whether the focus is on science, art, or history, museums are a great way to encourage kids to keep learning even when school is out.

To make a trip to a museum more cost-effective, look for discounts. For example, deal site Groupon offers a 25 percent discount off admission to the Old State Museum in Boston. Speaking of Boston, families there can take advantage of Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Friday program. Every Friday throughout the summer, multiple cultural sites in Boston and Massachusetts open their doors to the community for free!

6. Take advantage of library programs

Libraries often offer summer programs for kids for free. The District of Columbia Public Library, for example, touts a full calendar of kid-friendly events, ranging from art classes to reading programs. Between activities, reading time, and watching videos, the library is a one-stop shop.

7. Go to the beach

The beach promises endless fun. Youngsters can swim, build sand castles, or play recreational sports on the beach. Even for parents, the beach is the perfect place to find solace and relax with a good book while the kids stay entertained.

Depending on where you live, your local beach may be at the ocean, a lake, a pond, or even a reservoir. If you’re lucky enough to live near a coastline, check out TripAdvisor’s 25 best beaches in the country.

While a trip to the beach may only cost you a few bucks in parking or entrance fees, watch out for the snack stand as multiple trips for food and drinks can add up. Instead, bring your own lunch and snacks and enjoy a picnic spread on the beach.

8. Go camping

Need a quick getaway without spending much money? Maybe you should give camping a try.

Camping can be as simple or glamorous as you want. According to the National Park Service, plots usually cost between $20-30 a night, making it an affordable option.

To find a campsite near you, the National Park Service offers a full list of campsites available across the nation. Or, you can make it easy and camp out in your own backyard! Kids love backyard camping and it requires less planning on your part. Simply, pitch a tent out back and let the kids enjoy their outdoor adventure.

9. Keep plenty of indoor games handy

Unfortunately, not every summer day is sunny. Prepare for the rainy days by making sure you have plenty of fun indoor games available.

Board games and toys are always a hit with kids on rainy days. You can also encourage children to learn new skills, such as baking, painting or drawing.

10. Turn your backyard into a recreation center

Your backyard can provide hours upon hours of entertainment for kids if you provide the right set-up. For example, you can set up swing-sets, kiddie pools, sprinklers, a tetherball game, sandboxes, and more.

To lower the cost even more, you can often find backyard toys for cheap on sites like Craigslist or at garage sales. Or, ask around. Many families have children who have outgrown their backyard toys. They may be happy to have you take stuff off their hands.

No backyard? No problem. Find a local playground and let the kids have the run of the place!

Fun in the Sun

With a little creativity, you can give your kids their best summer yet. By following the tips above, saving money in advance and sticking to a budget, you and your kids can have a blast this summer without going broke.

 

How Your Parents Affect Your Relationship with Money

Like it or not, you have a particular relationship with money. This relationship was formed while you were growing up – in part by values instilled in you by your parents. By the time you reached adulthood, you had a concrete set of ideas about money that weren’t quite your own.

In order to make your relationship with money, well, your own, it’s key to take a closer look at how your parents continue to affect your financial decisions. From there, you’ll be in a better place to make changes, create new habits, and take money matters into your own hands.

What’s Your Family Money Story?

Your Family Money Story shapes the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors you bring to your financial life, says Financial Therapist Amanda Clayman.

To further explain, Clayman breaks down the Family Money Story as events, messages, feelings, and meaning. These make up your experiences surrounding money, as well as the beliefs and feelings surrounding what your parents said (or didn’t say) about money. These experiences can create patterns or a set of beliefs that affect your relationship with money in one of two ways:

  • You repeat it
  • Or you reject it

“If you found your parents’ frugal view that “There’s never enough money,” to be restrictive, you might take the opposite, “Money is meant to be enjoyed,” point of view,” she explains.

Millennial Money Report

Common money issues

There’s no doubt your parents can affect your relationship with money. The good news? You’re not alone. Here are some common situations that might ring true for you:

Situation #1: Money was tight growing up

When you were growing up, was money tight? If so, you might have been told “no” many times when asking for something new or perhaps you were frequently reminded that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” If this sounds like your childhood, you may now have frugal habits that can help you rock your savings goals.

On the other hand, you could be dealing with a scarcity mindset when it comes to money. A scarcity mindset around money is characterized by the feeling that there’s never enough. You might be fearful of money — and the lack thereof, causing undue emotional stress.

Situation #2: You got everything you wanted

As a child, maybe your parents doted on you and bought you anything you wanted. While having the latest and greatest toys and technology was awesome while you were a kid, this can lead to unrealistic expectations now that you’re an adult. For example, although your parents afforded you with a certain lifestyle (or relied on credit), you might not have the tools or the money knowledge to maintain a similar lifestyle on your own.

Situation #3: Your parents had a natural distrust of money

Were your parents naturally distrustful about money? Did you hear things like “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” or “Never trust the stock market”? Did your parents hide their cash under the mattress instead of depositing it into a bank account because they thought this was safer? All of these situations can seep into your consciousness and make you distrustful of money and financial institutions, too.

How technology can transform your relationship with money

Now that you have a better idea of why you feel the way you do about money, it’s important to note: You are not your parents. It’s a new era and things are different now than when your parents were coming of age. Growing up with technology certainly changes the way you live your life. It also changes the way you think about and manage your money.

Although millennials get a bad rap for being entitled and tech-obsessed, you can turn this on its head as technology can help you create good financial habits.

For example, mobile banking apps give you access to your money 24/7. That’s not a luxury your parents had growing up. You can effortlessly check your balance or review your spending. Better yet, managing your money doesn’t have to be a chore. For example, you can automate your savings and put your spare change to work to build your rainy day fund. In fact, if you’re a Chime member, the bank account will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit this amount into your savings account. In other words, your small change can make a big impact on your savings.

As you can see, even if you picked up some good and bad habits from the ‘rents, you have far more access to information than they did. Now is the time to take charge of your relationship to money and be in the driver’s seat of your own financial journey.

 

You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

Flashback several years ago to my last relationship. The guy I was dating at the time wasn’t open to discussing his “numbers.” Mind you, this was several years into our relationship. Although I disclosed how much I earned and saved, he was radio silent. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us.

When it comes to talking about money: It’s no big secret: we’d much rather talk about sex and politics than money, according to an article in The Guardian. We despise being defined by our wealth—or our lack thereof. We’re also often taught that talking about money is a faux pas. In fact, 7 out of 10 people think talking about money is rude.

Taking a step back, it’s no surprise that we don’t want to talk about money—a cause of stress for many people. In fact, 90% of Americans are stressed out about money, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Add to this that saving money is hard and many people don’t even have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency Why would they want to discuss finances?

Yet, in order to break through the money taboo, it’s important to learn how to openly talk about money matters. Here are some tips to break the ice when it comes to discussing money with your significant other or spouse.

Get financially naked

We all have different money values. In fact, your perceptions about money were likely formed when you were young. And, since you were raised differently than your partner, you may even have polar opposite money values. For example, you may have the “scarcity mindset,” in which money is hard to come by. This means you may be a penny pincher. Your partner, on the other hand, may be prone to emotional spending and find it challenging to save money.

Regardless of your different relationships to money, it’s important for you and your significant other to get “financially naked” when it comes to talking about money, according to Time Magazine. Financial infidelity, or hiding your financial matters from your partner, can ruin your relationship.

You can start making money discussions fun by setting up a monthly date. You can keep it casual and perhaps schedule it after a relaxing night after a homecooked meal. Topics you’ll want to discuss may include your net worth or outstanding debts, your short- and long-term money goals, creating a budget, and whether you should have a joint bank account. You can also use this time to discuss future job changes and general concerns you have about your finances.

Keep in mind that if you are cohabiting or engaged, it’s important to get your money matters out in the open before you make any major life changes, like uprooting to a new city, getting married, merging investments or raising kids. By starting now, you can lay the foundation for building a life together.

 

You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

 

Talk about your pain points

When it comes to money, it’s no surprise that many turn to personal finance forums on Reddit and Quora. These channels offer a virtual space where you can disclose details about your financial situation and remain anonymous. Although it seems uncomfortable, why not instead discuss these topics with people you know?

I know it seems strange, but sometimes being the first in a group to disclose your money matters can pave the way for others to do the same. This way, you can all support and help each other achieve your financial goals. For instance, I am usually the first one in my circle of friends to discuss my savings goals and the financial resources I’ve stumbled upon. I’m also not afraid to talk about my biggest challenges.

If you don’t want to talk about anything big, start by discussing a small win, like how you saved money at the grocery store last week or earmarked some of your bonus toward your summer vacay. By doing this, you’ll let your social circle know that “hey, I’m comfortable talking about money, and you’re welcome to do it, too.” My friends and I now talk freely about saving for retirement. I also receive texts when someone made a final car payment or paid off his student loan.

Going beyond your immediate social circle, it’s also a good idea to practice discussing money with family members or roomies. This will make it easier to broach topics like splitting a dinner tab or dividing up household bills.

Know your worth

Knowing your worth in the working world and asking for greater compensation is a crucial part of climbing the corporate ladder. When you know the value you’re contributing to the job, and just what it takes to level up to the next rung, you can feel confident asking for a raise. While it still remains taboo to ask your co-workers what they earn, you can still discuss this with your boss. This way you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to earn more, and what it takes to perform to move up the pay scale.
Likewise, in order to net higher rates as a freelancer, it’s important to know what others earn so that you can effectively raise your own rates. As a self-employed writer, rates vary and it can be challenging to determine how much to charge clients. To help me out, I often reach out to other freelancers to talk about what rates I should charge a client.

Regardless of how you decide to get your money matters out in the open, keep in mind that money is a tool. That is, money is a resource to help you achieve your goals so that you can live your preferred lifestyle. By openly discussing money, you’ll be more apt to align your money goals with your values. And that, my friends, is the sweet meat of having heart-to-heart discussions about money.