Category Archives: Money

Looking to level up your family’s finances? you came to the right place! Here are all the posts related to personal finance, including money management, financial freedom, and family budgets!

Listener Mailbag: Best Personal Finance Books, CoastFI, and More!

Is pursuing CoastFI a smart move for families? Looking for the best personal finance book for you? We dive into these questions and more in this mailbag episode!

Listener Q&A: CoastFI Questions and More

We’re wrapping up this season of the podcast by focusing on one of my favorite parts of Simplify and Enjoy: our community. 

While I’m happy to share our journey as a family, it’s fun and inspiring to hear your stories, ideas, and questions. 

I usually come away with something to explore and I hope you do too. 

In this episode, we’ll get into

  • Which personal finance books to read
  • Whether or not CoastFI is a good goal to pursue
  • Which numbers should you track

We have so much to cover, so let’s get started! 

Handy Tools to Start Your FI Journey

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family and look at pursuing financial independence, here are some resources to check out:

If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team.

They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Spotify, or Apple.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

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Money Goals: Doing Year End Review

With the year wrapping up soon, now is a wonderful time to do a year-end review of your money goals and set yourself up for an incredible year ahead!

Reviewing Your Money Goals for the Year

It’s that time of year again! 

Besides our monthly money reviews, one of the things we do is a deeper dive year-end review. It’s a way to review the numbers, celebrate wins, and adjust our system as needed to achieve our goals. 

Everyone has their own system, but the bones of the process are usually the same. 

  • We start by pulling up the goals we made for the year.
  • We review all our accounts – top to bottom – to see where we stand. 
  • We discuss what worked and what didn’t for us. 
  • We then take that information and use it to plan out the next year.

On paper, it’s a fairly straightforward process, but believe it or not, it can be fun and empowering, which may sound a bit crazy to you, but I hope to show how you can enjoy it.

In this episode, I want to:

  • take you through a high-level view of how it works
  • point out ways you can make the review run smoothly so you’re not scrambling to see all of your accounts
  • talk about how you can use your review to set things up for big wins next year

I hope you enjoy! 

Resources to Easily Stay on Top of Your Family’s Finances

If you're looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are some resources to check out!

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

Find out more about what Coastal offers here!

2022 Money Goals

 Before we look at the accounts and run the numbers, it's always good to review and discuss your goals. What were some of the things you planned on accomplishing this year? And how close are you to reaching your goals?

During these past two and a half years, something I've noticed that shifted with In terms of how we write our goals is instead of having several goals that we're trying to attack at once.

We'd rather go bigger with a few; then if time or circumstances allow, we can add in a few projects that we have on deck. And work on those. So for this year, we had two major goals and they probably sound familiar if you listen to the podcast.

The first one is pay down our mortgage and the second is invest in our brokerage.

First off, I just want to mention if you checked with us years ago when we were first married or when we were first getting situated with our finances, our goals were completely different.

That's because they should reflect where you are in our financial journey.

To get to this point, we had to make sure we had that financial foundation set So it doesn't sound exciting, but the first. Few years, we're just focused on getting a, a central emergency fund started. And paying off unnecessary debt. The first big one was the car loan and then working on the student loans.

So we're very grateful for where we are now. But to be clear, it did take time to get here.

Because it's just as important to discuss why you have these I'll give a brief overview of what we have planned for the future.

The reason we want to take our mortgage down from paying it in 30 years to 10 years is that we want to have more flexibility with our schedule. We both enjoy doing the work we do but we also have two kids that we want to have more time with.

We also have different projects that we want to do including more volunteer work. Having the mortgage paid off can take a burden off both.

That also ties in with why we're investing in our brokerage account. We are contributing to retirement.

But we also want to take care of those years where maybe we slow down on work but until that traditional retirement age, there has to be some kind of safety net there. So those are the goals that we have, and of course, If you've listened to the podcast for awhile, you know, That we broke them down further. I'm a big fan of smart goals.

If you're unfamiliar with smart goals, here are a few key things to know. You want to make them specific? So I said, pay down the mortgage, but we broke it down year by year. How much that we're going to pay down.

You also want it measurable. So if we want this by the end of the year, each quarter, what numbers are we trying to hit?

And then attainable. I've seen some people change this a for smart and make that ambitious and that's your personal choice? But I feel like if this is your first time working with goals, Just focus on building that habit. It's better to work on a few at a that you have a good chance of achieving rather than being overwhelmed in quitting.

The R in smart is result focus. So I discuss a bit of my, why. That's where you would put that. What's your motivation for doing and then time base. By having a deadline, it makes it easier to break down the step that you need to take and make sure you're hitting those milestones along the way.

With smart goals you're not just listing what you would like to do. But instead you're framing your goals into a timeline and breaking it down with milestones that you can track and make progress with.  

Review Your Numbers

One of the best ways to make your year end reviews go a lot Is already having your accounts organized. I did an entire episode about choosing the right money app for you.

In short, if you organize your finances with one of these it makes things so much simpler. There are so many great options out there. Some of them free, some paid, but those are low cost, and a great value for you.

I don't want you to stress over which particular budget app is best because it really does depend on how you approach finances.

For some families, they love having a simple high level view. While others want to go into the weeds and want to track every single cent.

I'll make sure to include a few of my favorites and ones that people enjoy in the show So that you can quickly look over them and see which one would be the right fit for you.

To give you an idea of how the process goes with running the numbers in reviewing your accounts, I'll just do a quick overview of how we would approach this.

Even though our two main goals involved, Working on the mortgage and the brokerage account we still look at all of our accounts so it does take longer than a monthly review.

But I feel good about this because then we get a clearer snapshot of where we are. I'll go over our monthly budget and make notes.

Throughout the year, how did the cashflow go? Were there times where it felt like the budget was tight and we need to adjust something or was it something that we could plan a little bit better?

An example was last month, we did a trip to Asheville. It was fantastic and we loved it. Because we planned ahead for it. We had the money in savings and we just made the transfers and things were paid for.

On the other hand I'll look into this more when we do our actual review in a few weeks, but at a glance, I'm noticing that our grocery Our higher than normal. Of course inflation is on the minds of many, and that could be the case. Or it could be a situation where we can make small adjustments that will offset the increased prices with our groceries.

We could do a better job with meal planning. Maybe we could batch cook a few meals, something along those lines.

Having these little notes as I'm going over the numbers makes the discussion go a lot faster.

We have a Google shared spreadsheet. My husband, Rob can then look at the spreadsheet and see what points and I'm trying to highlight. So whatever system works for you with that.

All right. Let's get into our goals. The first one is the mortgage. It's pretty straightforward. We're trying to take our 30 year mortgage and paid off in ten.

We're doing that by sending an additional mortgage payment along with our monthly mortgage payment that is rounded up. If we get any extra income a percentage of that automatically goes to paying down the principal.

Doing the math that comes out to about $20,000 a year going towards the principal.  

Is this a stretch? Yes, but it's doable. Again, it's about finding that balance between hitting all of our goals and still enjoying our time at a sustainable rate.    

Every family's going to have their own definition of what sustainable and what pace they want to go and that's okay.

If you spend any time online you'll see, there's plenty of financial advice where there are those who are absolutely want to be 100% completely debt-free as fast as possible. And then there, there are others who say, well, your mortgage is relatively low Why don't you put all of that money towards investments?

There are merits to both for us. We felt like combining these two goals and allocating a certain percent percentage to each was the right call for us.

We were able to do this because we ran the numbers and talked about it. If you're thinking of paying your mortgage off faster, I definitely would recommend checking out the Maury tree master From family money plan.

Andrew has put together a guide and a phenomenal spreadsheet that allows you to quickly compare and run different scenarios so you can find path and pace that makes sense for your family's particular circumstances and goals.

Let's talk about the brokerage account. This year is a good example of why you don't want to constantly check your investments. Things have definitely been volatile. Most people when checking their accounts to frequently are going to be tempted to make changes to how they invest.

If you look at the data, that's where you make big mistakes. Having an investment strategy means thinking longterm, having a plan. For us, This was focusing not so much on the returns we got, but making sure we had our regular contributions being.

This can be the hard part, especially when you are someone who likes to look at the numbers. But the data shows that while short term investing in the market can be volatile over the longterm it's more stable. Again, having these conversations can help the two of you stay on track.

Looking at the numbers in terms of contributions, we're on track because we have a monthly contribution that gets deducted and it goes straight into the brokerage account.  

There you go. Hopefully you see that if you set up your accounts, Either using an app or a spreadsheet. It makes things go so much smoother when you're doing the year end review.

Look Forward to Next Year

 For me, this is my favorite part. Planning out and brainstorming what we'd like to do over the next year or so. Having the numbers in front of us makes it really easy. To know if we need to change the pace of how we're going with our longterm goals. And it also lets us have an idea of what wiggle room we have to pick up some new goals as well.

And with planning your goals. I highly recommend go ahead and first write down everything in anything you would like to do. Don't worry. We'll whittle down the list But see, as you're writing this down, are there certain themes that are coming up with your goals? You may find that you have one big goal and then several small steps that go under that.

Or you could see that you each have your own interests that you really excited about. Now you can have a discussion and see where you align. What you can adjust. So that you're both happy with next year's goals.

For us, you saw with our two main goals, also longterm. We're definitely making progress and we're working towards them so we are going to keep them for the next year, but something we're definitely going to discuss in more detail are the house projects.

Kind of figuring out what we want to do. One of the ideas we have is finishing up the basement so that it could be living space. What would that look like? How much do we need to set aside for that? I think we're going to do the initial estimates pretty soon to get a ballpark idea.

We're also talking about with the backyard. Do we want to do a garden shed workshop or do we want to keep it a lot simpler and focus on the basement?

These are how the conversations go- what goals are we trying to achieve? Do they fit with our budget? Are they even aligned with the other goals?

A lot of it is back and forth. So I will say, well, you might do a main review with the numbers in one sitting. Many times the conversations about the goals you want to do are going to happen over several conversations and that's good.

This is what it's about. It's working as a family to see what projects we want to take on together and how we can work towards those goals.

Hopefully having listened to the different parts that we went over this process. You can see that it is fairly straightforward but it's something you don't want to rush.

If you haven't already talk about what time you have over the next month or so, where you can sit down, look at the numbers, I review what went well and then start planning for 2023.

You can then take those goals. And see if you can do a little bit of a setup before the year starts so that you already have that momentum going. I want you to have an incredible year!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Should We Switch to a Credit Union?

 Are you frustrated with your bank? Are you getting hit with needless fees? Or feeling like you have to fight to get some good customer service?

Today, we're going to look at credit unions and we're going to see why they may be the right option for you.  

Why Where You Bank Matters

One of the most important decisions you can make with your money is choosing where you bank because it's the foundation of your family's finances. 

Ideally, you want a banking system that allows you to take care of your essential bills, save up for important goals, and set aside something for fun, like vacations.

As you heard in the teaser, though – that can be difficult when your bank is working against your best interest. 

The good news is that those banks that are on the news aren’t your only option. 

You can get better services and competitive rates by moving your money. One overlooked option that can give you both is switching to a credit union.

Joe Mecca from Coastal Federal Credit Union and I are discussing and answering some big questions families typically have about credit unions. 

Now, if you’ve been a part of this community, you already know Coastal Credit Union is a sponsor. However, you may not know that we have been members of Coastal years before they came on board here. 

I’ll include a link so you can hear the details, but a very long story short, we had been burned and were frustrated by our old bank, which happened to be one of the big banks. I’m almost embarrassed at how long we waited, but finally, we had enough, so we looked for other options. 

Eventually, I discovered Coastal and yeah, it’s been like night and day. We've been happy with their service. I’d like you to have the same win.

Whether you're in this area and you use Coastal, some other credit union, or a different banking option, the key thing is I want you to review your finances and make sure you're happy with whoever you decide to bank with.

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • How credit unions work
  • Benefits of being a credit union member
  • How Coastal works for the community

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Easily Manage Your Money

Your money should be working as hard as you, but managing it should be easy. Here are some of my favorite tools and resources to stay on top of your finances!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Should We Move Our Money to a Credit Union?

Elle Martinez: If there's one of those key decisions that we make, it's where we bank and how we bank, right? Because that's the foundation of our finances especially checking in savings.

As you go further along with your financial journey, you're talking about investments, maybe getting some advice, buying a home, maybe starting a business.

If you don't have that foundation, it can be so frustrating. People are quite frankly, feeling like they're getting nickled and dime with where they're currently banking with, but they're not sure where they should move their money.

I would love for you to maybe give someone who's not familiar with what credit unions have to offer, or it's been a while since they looked at credit unions, why they should seriously consider moving their money there.

Joe Mecca: Sure. I'm, again, I'm always gonna be a cheerleader for credit unions. Mm-hmm. If I didn't work for one, I'd still probably have all my money here just because of the nature of who a credit union is and how they work for, for consumers.

For those that don't know, credit union operates much like a bank, but structured very differently. Your big banks are Wall Street institutions that are designed to make money for shareholders.

A credit union is a cooper so we are owned by our members. The people who come in are essentially our customers are also our owners. We are obligated by the nature of who we are, by our purpose, to do what's best for our membership.

That usually comes through in a number of different ways. We see better rates on deposits and usually better rates on loans and then lower fees or fewer fees. So those are kind of three big differentiators that a member of a credit union would see versus doing business with the bank because we're, again, we're obligated to do what's best for our membership.

If we make a little bit extra money, we can return that to our members, whereas a, corporate bank would be obligated to give that money to their shareholders.

So you don't see any benefit from them making a little bit extra but a member of a credit union would see the benefit in that it comes back.

Yeah, and I think this is significant. I've been a coastal member at least seven years. I gotta double check. It's been a while.

We've been happy as members ourselves. We might be a little biased, but we not only use Coastal for our basic checking, savings accounts, but we got our mortgage through them and I did notice a difference.

This is our second mortgage. Our first house was with a bigger bank, which I will not name and the experience to me felt completely different in a good way with coastal local community based. It was great I was going in the branch having these conversations and it felt more like someone walking us step by step and looking beyond just the numbers, having conversations besides buying a house, what other goals you wanna have.

And I'm not saying all banks are bad. You know, we're at the incentives. And then also how are you feeling with the customer service?

I felt like Coastal was a little more holistic versus with the big bank, I felt like literally we were just our case number.

That's the conversation I believe all families should have is where we bank, how do we feel? Do we feel like we're being treated as VIPs? Whether how much is in our bank account or is this a matter of they're just gonna open an account and we never hear from them again.

So that's something I've appreciated about Coastal and like you mentioned, Coastal has a lot of different accounts. Some people may automatically know you got the checking and savings, but Coastal offers a lot more than that. Even more than some typical credit unions. Do you mind going over some of the special feature.

Oh sure. Yeah, we do really a full slate of financial products and services.

We're gonna offer pretty much everything that you're gonna be able to get at the biggest banks. A lot of people think credit unions are small and don't always have that full offering, but, you've mentioned that we've got, checking accounts, savings accounts, course, that's pretty standard.

We do money market, we do certificates, and that's on the deposit side over on the loan side. Not just personal loans and auto loans, but definitely mortgages, home equity products and credit cards as well.

So really all of somebody's day to day financial needs and helping them with all their major purchases are things that the credit union's gonna be able to, to provide.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely and I know you guys have a wealth management service. I would say you guys have a really good web presence, which for some people might not be a big deal, but I know for my husband and I, we do a lot of online banking using our apps.

If I get checks, deposit it through the phone and everything, and Coastal has a seamless, app, digital platform for that.

For those that maybe it's been a few years since they checked out credit unions and that's a hold up or something that they were worried about. I would say credit unions have gotten better and Coastal's done a really good job with that.

Even options like the card nav. I've become such a nerd with some of the tech that you guys are doing right now with the finances.

Joe Mecca: That's one of my favorites too, you know, like turning my turning my cards on and off and, and trying to do anything I can to mitigate fraud or mitigate loss and just get those alerts whenever the cards used.

Elle Martinez: I like that you have those options. I think nowadays, because again, a lot of it's digital. Unfortunately, a lot of scammers, you have people skimming the credit card numbers. Any kind of protection you can get with your accounts where you have control over it, I think is a huge plus.

Besides the financial services, something I wanted to talk to you about is going with a, community bank or a credit union. One of the pluses to me is how involved it is within the community.

Coastal just this summer I was noticing a lot of participation including recently you have invested half a million. Coastal has the foundation into affordable housing solutions in the area. I'd love to know, how is that a priority with coastal deciding which programs to get involved in? Kind of

Joe Mecca: wanna get the scoop on that. So, and we've been doing work through our foundation for a number of years, but it's definitely a growing presence for us.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, as a cooperative concern for community is actually one of our operating principles.

We always wanna make sure that we're doing what's best for not just, you know, our members and our employees, but, The community around them. You need to have, have a healthy, thriving community in order for your membership to get the maximum benefit.

We try to work with nonprofit organizations in our area that are really hitting on projects that fit well within also our expertise and things that we're able to not just provide funding for, but even some guidance and some extra help.

Just because of the nature of the business that we're in and, what we're capable of providing. One of the areas of focus for our foundation is, helping affordable housing. It's definitely a growing need in our area.

I think for a long time. Mm-hmm. This was viewed as an area that had extremely affordable housing by comparison to other markets. Yeah. Despite the rapid growth of the area, it was a lot cheaper here to get a home than say like Boston or San Francisco or something like that.

But we started to see in the last several years that home prices are really starting to tick up. It's hard and harder to find land to build on. Rents are skyrocketing. Yeah. So all the way around the affordable housing is definitely becoming concerned for this area and we wanted to make sure that we were addressing it.

A couple years ago we actually added that to one of our foundation's areas of focus and him been on the lookout for projects that really fit into that. We've worked with Habitat for Humanity for a number of years and have helped provided low cost loans for their clients. Mm-hmm.

This year we really saw some opportunities to step up in a number of ways. And in August announced that we were gonna do a half million dollars in grants. All for affordable housing and, and projects that are, loosely tied together in some ways.

We're funding a project to build affordable housing, affordable apartments in Chapel Hill. We're helping build habitat houses in Orange County and Durham County. We're working to, support a couple other organizations, a couple other projects, and then this year we're actually partnered with United Way and Band together for their concert in October to help raise money for actually all of the organizations that we've supported individually.

I think it's nine or 11 organizations total that are gonna benefit and they're all focused on affordable housing this year as well so really trying to step up and help, get some momentum behind some of the projects that are going on locally that might help combat the rising housing costs.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely. I think that's in the minds of so many families. I know for those who already have a home in the area, it's a good thing.

At the same time, those who wanna make that transition, they're having a harder time like you mentioned with Rent Rising. Some were trying to save up for a home, but now the rent just jumped up.

Again, I saw 22% in Durham, and I believe in Raleigh was around that maybe a little bit more per year. That cuts into savings for future things like buying a house and I think this is just important to mention because yes, of course we wanna whoever we bank with wanna make sure that our finances are taken care of.

We get in some competitive rates, whether that's on the saving sides on the loan side, but I think many people are also asking themselves, if I'm gonna move my money, if I'm gonna, make this effort and switch, why not do it with a banking option that's treating me well, but hopefully also the community it's in.

I think that is something that people are considering more in addition to maybe the financial benefits. To wrap up, I do wanna point out that Coastal has some pretty impressive programs and extra bits that can help families make real progress with their finances besides, the basic stuff.

We got our mortgage through Coastal, but we also used Daymark Reality to find our House. Very happy. Loved the team. Made the process so stress free.

Then my husband and I of all times, Joe, we bought a , We bought a car two months before the pandemic, but we used the auto smartt.

Oh, nice, nice. Yeah. Yeah. And got a great deal and it. We went to a dealership and they were great, but that was one of the things I didn't wanna do a dealership cuz I was afraid about the price. But Coastal had that, they honored the price and we were out there, same day, got a card that we love.

Two and a half years later and barely has any miles on it but we still got a great deal.

Joe Mecca: I can completely hear you on that one. I actually had to do a little maintenance on my car yesterday and I went to go, log it and see where I was. Yeah, I just outta curiosity, look back at, you know, what kind of mileage I'd put on in the last year and, and it's only been 4,000 miles, so that car might last me a couple more years, but yeah, you did mention auto smartt.

That's actually a pretty awesome tool that's on our website and lets people, search for both new and used cars in this market. You get some really good pricing out of and it's a lot of note hassle.

Daymark again, always great. I'm actually using them right now, so, Oh, nice. Hopefully that works out pretty well for us. Earlier you talked about our wealth management services as well, so that would kind of handle all of the more complex and little higher level financial needs. People doing retirement planning. Mm-hmm. and asset protection insurance.

Even helping set aside money for, college savings and that kind of thing. So, as far as product services, financial services, we've got it covered. Yeah, we can do pretty much anything somebody's gonna need but we're gonna do it with a different focus and the focus is gonna be you.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

How to Maximize Your Work Benefits During Open Enrollment

 Open enrollment season is here and I want you to be prepared. Learn how you can avoid some of the biggest mistakes and instead maximize your workplace benefits to their fullest potential!

Open Enrollment FAQs 

How would you like to help set up your finances for this next year so that it runs smoother and that you are going to be hitting your money goals faster?

That might very well be the case if you take time this weekend to go over your options with open enrollment.

I know it might not seem like the most exciting thing when you get that packet, but you can have a huge insignificant one with your finances if you take the time to really research your options and make sure that you're maximizing your benefits.

With open enrollment health insurance is typically the biggest decision families worry about an understandably. You're trying to strike that balance of getting the best coverage for your family at an affordable price, which can be a struggle. However, that's just one piece.

There are other benefits that I want to make sure you are maximizing as much as possible. How do you know where to start and which workplace benefits you should focus on?

That's why I want to share a discussion I had with Matt minor awhile ago about which areas to give your attention to and what essential conversations you should be having as a family to get a clearer picture of optimizing your workplace benefits.

Matt is a fee only fiduciary advisor with Miner Wealth Management and he specializes in helping families make sure that their finances are aligned with their goals, priorities, and values. He's also the creator and host of the work pants, finance podcast.

In this episode, we're going to be covering:

  • some of the most common and biggest mistakes families make when they go through open enrollment with their benefits
  • how disability insurance works and why you should consider it, even if you are young and healthy
  • what to look out for for other possible benefits and keeping an eye on your 401(k)

Hope you enjoy!

Resources to Maximize Your Family's Finances 

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

When’s the Best Time to Buy Stuff, Find Deals, and Travel?

Want to maximize your money? Find the best time in the year to buy electronics and other big purchases, and find travel deals!

The Best Time to Buy

One way to start planning for next year’s budget is to review and discuss what big purchases you need or like to make. 

Because these are outside your typical budget, you want to start saving ahead of time to keep your cash flow smooth. You can also try to time things, so you have the money ready to buy when it is on sale. 

After scouring resources like Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, NerdWallet, and more, I’ve compiled a list of the best times to buy things for the year. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • Each season and month so you know when a good time to snag a deal
  • Tools that can help you get rebates or find the lowest prices
  • How to make room in your budget for those big purchases

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Stay on Top of Your Money

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Become a Member.

Photo Credit: cottonbro and Sam Lion

Financial Infidelity: Red Flags to Look Out For

Financial infidelity is more common than you think. Learn red flags to look out for as well as how to become more proactive with your finances!

Why You Need to Talk About Money Openly

Marriage and money aren’t typically something that people love talking about, but if you want to have a strong relationship you have to find to communicate with each other that's transparent, productive, and respectful. 

I was looking at a survey, and one had recorded 39% of adults just avoid even talking about the numbers.

Think about it for a moment. We're not even talking about hiding anything

We may think we’re avoiding a fight by brushing off or keeping chats about money superficial, but that’s not usually how it works.   

Finances, money, budgets – they’re necessary topics, and the more comfortable we get about it, I think that actually leads to a better relationship, a better marriage.

That’s Tracy Coenen who you also heard at the top of the episode. She’s on the show today because she’s quite familiar with how things can unravel those financial issues can snowball into something much bigger. 

Tracy has seen that happen in her work. She’s a forensic accountant and fraud investigator with Sequence Inc where she investigates embezzlement, securities fraud, divorce, white collar criminal defense, insurance fraud, and civil litigation matters.

But let’s look at that side- financial infidelity. How would you define it? 

“Financial infidelity is hiding financial information, financial transactions, from your partner in a situation where you have a reasonable grasp of knowing what they want to know,” said University of Minnesota law professor Jill Hasday. “And, keeping the information is harming them.”

A study from the Journal of Financial Therapy, found 76% of married couples involved in financial infidelity say the experience negatively impacted their relationship, and 10% got divorced over it.

One reason why it can cause such damage to your marriage is that it breaks trust, which is such a critical piece in your relationship. It’s hard to rebuild that trust. It takes time. 

I hope you never have to deal with financial infidelity, but if it happens, how would you know? 

In this episode, we’ll discuss: 

  • Causes or underlying issues behind financial infidelity and red flags to look out for
  • Ways to start working as a team to either prevent or repair the damage
  • How to financially protect yourself 

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to to Stay on Top of Your Money

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Possible Causes of Financial Infidelity

Elle Martinez: We should address that there are a lot of reasons why people commit financial infidelity.

Definitely there are bad characters out there, but then there's also, shame. There's a lot of fear. I was looking back at the archives and some of the stories we've had with financial infidelity.

Yes there were cases where there was definitely an intent to sabotage the relationship and finances, but we had one where they were getting married and in one, couple she was a financial educator and a professional and he felt ashamed.

So he was military veteran. He was working. And so he lied about the status of his finances before they got married. Being a financial educator, she saw certain sides and that led to a confrontation. And then he admitted basically you were so much more ahead of me. I felt inadequate in a sense, but they were able to work it out.

Then I had a case where there was a couple and this happens in a lot of families. There's a go-to person with finances and it either could be based on like the income they make. It could be a cultural. Where one person does it, but it gets to the point where the other one doesn't even check in.

And so there was this imbalance here and in that case, he actually was saying yes to his family. He wanted to, you know, provide for them. He had a good job. So he thought, well, that's what I do. But long story short, it was $109,000 of credit card debt and he had to talk to his wife. He's like, this is all going to come crashing down in two weeks, you know?

Tracy Coenen: So financial infidelity, right? Doesn't have to beat the big stuff. I mean, when people think of financial in infidelity, they think about what I like to call sex drugs in rock and roll affairs, gambling, addictions. Those are all expensive things. And those are hidden for a reason, right? But it doesn't have to be that it can be the just hidden every day spending.

It can be that balance on that credit card. That's creeping up little by little by little. Maybe you always had an agreement that our credit cards will use them, but they're gonna be paid off every month. We're never gonna carry a balance unless there's an emergency. Right but then that balance starts to creep up a little by little and before, you know, You've got a $10,000 credit card balance that one person didn't know about.

And so there is a continuum of financial infidelity. So I don't like people to just think, well, oh, it's the sex drugs in rock and roll and that's not us. So we're okay.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely and I think you also bring up a good point. And I do wanna dig into this, which is this pandemic did a number on us, mentally emotional and for a lot of families, financially. Maybe we feel hopefully that things are turning around. We're getting better. We're thinking we need to pay attention to our finances more.

We need to be on the same page. So you mentioned looking at purchases and, and credit cards in particular. Could we dig into what to look out for? Say you wanna more engaged with the finances. Again, maybe you are suspecting something, but maybe you're saying we're not as far along as I thought we would be, what are some things to look out for or to check up with finances?

Financial Infidelity: What to Look Out For with Your Money

Tracy Coenen: Well, I think the first step that's important for many, many people is just getting bank statements and credit card statements and investment account statements and looking at them at all. Even if you're not looking for anything specific, just having them and looking at them is a great first step because so many people don't even look at them.

Right? You trust your spouse, you have a division of duties in the family and that's perfectly normal. Most families do that where one spouse is primarily responsible for the money, because it makes sense division of duties. But if you're not in that position, I always say every month, I want you to log in online or ask your spouse for that bank statement and look at it.

Just look it over and see because. You are going to know your family and you're gonna scan down that list of spending and you're gonna say, wait a second. What's that for? And you're gonna start asking some questions naturally. Okay. So first step is getting some statements and then second step.

If you're ready to kind of dig into them a little bit and look for, I say, look for unusual things. So look at how often someone's going to the ATM. Look for changes in patterns. We never went to the ATM before, but now I see my spouse going to the ATM twice a week, every week and taking out $500 each time.

And I can't fathom what he would be spending that on. Right. Or certain restaurants or retailers that are frequented that you didn't know about.

I give an example of, you have a spouse who was never into electronics before and now you see that they're having purchases at the apple store best buy that's unusual. So look for unusual.

Why Money Talks Need to Be a Part of Your Routine

Elle Martinez: I think that is fascinating because it does bring out the importance, even if you're not the go-to person, it's always good to have a second pair of eyes to double check everything. Like you said, it could be malicious or it could be something that I've noticed is a spending addiction or a spending problem.

It's so much better to nip it in the bud because your finances are commingling. The accounts are being shared. It's a protection. Even if relationship wise, you guys are okay financially, something's going on that could down the line, tear your marriage up because you're ruining the finances intentional or not.

So I think that's a great idea to have regular check-ins. We're a fan of money dates where, If you wanna go out, have a night in, but you just relax and review the numbers together, just to get a sense of like, how are we doing and what's going on? Are there things we need to work on or upcoming expenses? Making it normal to talk about finances.

Tracy Coenen: What if you didn't know your spouse was going to Starbucks every day and spending $8 every day at Starbucks, right? I mean, that adds up and that might be something important that you could see in the statements that you guys could just address. Maybe the answer is, Hey, like that's my vice that like really gets me going in the morning.

It makes me super happy. Okay. Well that puts a little bit of a strain on our budget. Is there something else we could cut? So you could continue to do that and have your daily happiness, right? Those are easier discussions to have on the front end, before you're in financial trouble.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely. And you know what, maybe you get an idea for an anniversary gift. Okay. Apparently they love cappuccinos. I need to start saving up now for that, but I think that's part of the problem is we see there's a lot of feelings of judgment and value with money. And I don't know any couple that prioritizes exactly the same things I know for me, books and travel.

If you look at my spending, those are the things I love to spend money on my husband's more the tech guy. So I think also having those conversations, like this is important to me, and this is why it's important to me. That way it's easier to fit it in, but I know it's not always that easy. Maybe you're you're uncovering bad financial behavior either like we mentioned, compulsive spending. They don't want to go to counseling for that. They don't wanna see a therapist for that, or it could be something that down the line may lead to divorce.

Are there things someone can do to protect their finances maybe while they sort this out, or even during the process of divorce?

How to Protect Yourself (and Finances)

Tracy Coenen: You know, I always say that you should have your own reserve of money that you can always fall back on. If you think that divorce is on the horizon, it becomes especially important that you have some money of your own. That's set aside in case your spouse cuts you off. Something of this sort. I mean, those are not the fun, happy things to talk about, but that's super important.

So having your own money but also having your own credit. And so making sure that you have a credit card in your name, that your spouse's name is not on. So your spouse can't cancel the card. Can't change the credit limit. Can't take your name off of it. And I know some of the sounds like cloak and Deger not fun to talk about, but super important when we get to the point of divorce, people do sabotage one another. And so those kinds of things are super important to set yourself up in case you think that there may be a divorce coming.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, and I would recommend if you feel you're at this point where you have to protect yourself, that's a sign that maybe also you need to get some counseling, whether that's couples counseling, or even for yourself, cuz this is a very, an emotional time you wanna go in there clear headed.

You wanna have a plan and you wanna make sure, especially if you have kids that they're protected. While things get sorted out that they don't suffer, whether that's, in a financial sense or emotionally and take care of that.

I know we just scratched the surface. Tracy. How could people reach out to you? If they wanted learn more?

Tracy Coenen: I recently released the divorce money guide at divorce money guide dot. It's my way of trying to make forensic accounting more accessible to average people. Forensic accountants are expensive, and if you're getting divorced, that process is already really expensive.

And there were so many people out there who were needing help understanding their numbers, potentially looking for whether money was missing. And so the divorce money guide is an online handbook to help them with that process for a fraction of the cost of what it would cost them to have a forensic accountant on their side.

Elle Martinez: I think we should just wrap this up whether things are going well or not you can't avoid finances in your marriage, in your relationship, you really need to have these conversations.

And like Tracy said, don't make it like the money talk. That's probably the worst way to go make it part of your routine, your schedule, whether that's weekly, monthly, however you do it. But something that's consistent and something that makes money less of a burden or a worry and more, just a tool to accomplish whatever goals you have together.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Become a Member.

Photo Credits: Milada Vigerova and Karolina Grabowska