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Why We Make Time to Really Talk About Our Finances

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This post is part of the How We Saved This Week weekly feature.

My husband and I talk about pretty much everything. That’s one thing that we established well before going into marriage (we met when we were 9 and 10 and were good friends for years before we actually were in a serious relationship) and it’s the “glue” that holds our marriage together.

Since I’m a verbal processor and Jesse’s highest receiving love language (meaning: how he feels loved) is quality time, we spend a LOT of time talking. In fact, our friends tease us about how much we talk together because it’s rare that something happens that we don’t talk about it. 🙂

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There’s No “Mine” or “Yours”

I truly believe that one reason we’ve been able to make a lot of financial traction in recent years is because we’ve really become a strong team when it comes to finances. We’ve set aside the whole “his money, her money” fights and made it all “our money”. We don’t talk about “your earnings vs. my earnings”; it’s all “our earnings”.

We don’t have separate bank accounts. We don’t make big financial purchases without consulting each other. We don’t give to a cause or need or person without both agreeing to it. And we don’t move forward with any long-term financial plan without both of us being on the same page about it.

Yes, We’ve Had to Learn to Compromise

We’ve had a lot of intense discussions about finances over the years, and while it sometimes takes a lot of talking and time and discussion, we’ve found ways to compromise so that we’re both feeling “heard” when it comes to our budget. (Such as having a blow category in our budget so that Jesse can have some wiggle room to enjoy spending money! Or cutting back in some areas so that my frugal self doesn’t feel like we’re wasting money.)

Over the years, the practice of making unity a priority when it comes to finances has paid off well. We have a lot less friction, we’ve grown in our communication skills, and we’ve learned a lot about the needs and fears we both have.

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Thinking Long-Term About Property Investments

This past week, we sat down and talked about our long-term financial goals — especially when it comes to rental property investments. This is an area that we were just experimenting with for a year or two, not sure how it would work out. Well, it’s worked out really, really well.

Jesse has loved the process of researching areas to buy rental properties in, he’s loved reading and listening to books and podcasts on how to have a successful rental management business, he’s loved working with the rental management company we hired to manage our two houses in Kansas, and his enthusiasm for this whole idea has only been strengthened from a few years of doing it.

And not only that, but the cash flow from our rental properties has turned out to be a good income source, even after deducting all the expenses involved (such as taxes, rental management company percentages, maintenance, and repairs).

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How We Saved This Week

We sat down and talked about all of that this week. We spent some time dreaming about the future and then talking realistically about where we want to be in 5 to 10 years. We talked about pros and cons to single family houses versus multi-family residences, where we wanted to purchase rentals in the future (Kansas, Tennessee, or somewhere entirely differently), and we talked about what was doable with what we’re able to save each month + the rental income we’re earning.

We set some short-term and long-term goals, we discussed a couple of big dreams, and we mapped out a game plan for the next few years. While I can’t tell you a dollar amount we saved (or earned) by having this discussion, I truly believe that taking the time to talk about these things in-depth will end up paying off in significant dividends and savings in the months and years to come.

What are some ways that YOU saved this week?

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  • susie says:

    Cute photos! I am a talker too, but I always think my husband is not paying attention- he probably is more than I realize! I should say more, we probably could have saved a bunch over the years… I always listen to dave ramsey while doing dishes, I think he must have been listing because he told me the other day- “we should pay off our mortgage instead of investing in stock!” yea! At least we have never had debt.

  • Beth Sheppard says:

    Well we decided to make our old Astro van last one more year. It’s getting rather undependable with 13 years now, but the payment plan is perfect…..$0. For three years now we’ve been saying one more I’m not sure how long this can continue !

  • Jennifer says:

    Great points! Also, I didn’t know you met when you were 9 and 10. That would be a blog post I would love to read! How you went from children to friends to married with three kids states away from where you started!

  • Maryalene says:

    I know it’s a bit out of the normal range of topics for your blog, but I would love to hear your tips for owning rentals. It’s something I have on my list of long range goals. Maybe a guest post from Jesse? 🙂

    • Sara C says:

      Me too! It’s something our family is starting to consider as well!

    • Jessica says:

      I’d be interested in a post about rental properties too!

    • Lisa says:

      I would love to hear more about any tips for researching, buying, managing & making the most of rental properties as well. It is one of our long-term goals, but have no idea where to start.

    • Pat says:

      I would love more on this topic. This seems to be where your family is now more information past and present on rental income is a hot topic of discussion on other blogs.

      • Jo says:

        We definitely plan to share more in the months to come. We wanted to wait until we had some success and experience under our belt before talking about it because when we started, we felt like it was a total experiment and had no idea whether it would work or not.

        I *did* share some details in the comments on this post, for those who are interested:

        And feel free to email in questions for me and I’ll do my best to try to answer them in upcoming posts.

        • Kristin says:

          My husband and I have been in the rental property business for several years now, and it been a huge source of secondary income for us. My husband has a full-time job at a bank and I stay at home with our 4 young children. But we have been very blessed with a good rental market here and we have now reached the point where if something happened to my husband or his job, we would still live quite comfortably off the rental income alone. Many people think we’re crazy for having rentals because they think it’s such a risk, but my husband is like yours – he does a TON of research! He also makes sure he does a thorough background check on any potential renters, he’s very good with numbers so he knows when something is going to cash-flow well, and he’s quite handy, so he does all the maintenance and management himself (which saves us lots of money!). Even though I don’t do much in the rental management, he always makes sure to discuss any future purchases or any current issues with me. He tells me I have a certain intuition that he has come to really appreciate. 🙂

    • Cristy says:

      I am interested in the resources he used to educate himself about rental properties. too. A guest post would be great. We’ve recently inherited a house that we plan to rent. The process kinda scares me, so any advice would be helpful.

    • Valerie says:

      The big question I have about rental properties is how you consider the investment and income. The main source of income is the monthly income from rent. However, when do you consider that income as opposed to paying off your investment? If you pay cash for a property, you are out the price of the property. I have a hard time thinking of the rent coming in every month as “income” until it’s essentially paid back the amount spent to buy it. Am I thinking about this incorrectly? (So for example if a rental costs $100,000, to me it seems like I’d need to make back $100,000 in net profit from rent until I was actually “earning” off it.)

      • Jo says:

        For us, because we paid cash, as long as the value of the property doesn’t decrease, we consider all income after expenses to be true income. Because we purchased property in areas that would resell well, should we decide to sell the property, we should get about 100% back what we initially invested.

        • Leslie says:

          Does it change your perspective when you consider all rental income is taxable? To Valerie’s point, it’s so hard to consider rental income as a cash flow until you’ve paid yourself back the selling price. If you paid $100k for a property, and received $1000 a month in rent, less expenses of maybe $200/mo (is that close??), $800 is taxable at whatever your personal tax rate is…so you’re paying yourself back about $600/mo. If my math is correct (sketchy at best! lol), that would be 14 years to pay yourself back the initial sales price. Granted, you could sell it and make (hopefully) a profit anytime you wanted! I would just have to lay the numbers out and see if it was a risk I was willing to take. Crystal has hit the nail on the head, it has to be researched thoroughly!

  • I rented a movie from Amazon that I had really wanted to see at the movies. It was $4.99 to rent, much cheaper than two movie tickets.

  • Delores says:

    Well… this whole month we’ve been eating the food that has been in the freezer and our (mostly home) canned goods. So we have saved a lot since I just haven’t gone grocery shopping. But probably the best way I have saved over the past week is picking the last leaves of our collards (I live in NC). The plants are kind of looking bad, but I am determined to get every good bit of them that I can. Plus, the kids love them in soups!

  • annie says:

    We do a pretty good job of communicating. Surely this has blessed our marriage by getting us through times just like our traditional marriage vows said. One exception, long term goal setting, is something we are not that good at in my opinion. Our mortgage will be paid off, we are funding college and retirement as best we are able, and we have a couple of retirement ideas.

    I would love a post explaining how to develop this topic in more depth.

    • Jo says:

      Great idea for an upcoming post — thanks for suggesting it!

      • annie says:

        You’re welcome!

        I should also add that I agree with you 100% on the “we” and not ” mine” in finances. Both earning and spending sides. In over 25 years of marriage we have a lot more conflict when we aren’t working together or when we are selfish in our behaviors.

        I have difficulty planning long term because I fear disappointment. God may have other plans or my husband has trouble committing in long term goals.

        I love your blog. 🙂

        • Sheila Smith says:

          My husband defers all things financial to me. He doesn’t care to participate nor come with me to discuss retirement etc with the financial guy…. please know that is awesome to have your husbands on the same page. He trusts me- which is good, but I would like his opinion instead of “Whatever you decide is fine.” Unfortunately after 32+ years it isn’t likely to happen. (House and vehicles paid off and no debt.)

          • Dana says:

            Sheila, I would be sad if my hubby didn’t discuss money with me either. But every marriage works differently, and it sounds like this arrangement is going very well!! Your hubby is lucky to have you. You are a blessing to him (even if you wish for different).

  • Lana says:

    Our youngest son and his wife have been friends since they were 11 and 14 and she kind of grew up at our house so her and I are good friends, too. And we ended up being great friends with her parents so it is a great thing all around.

    My husband and I are talkers too, which is kind of rare for people our age. We go out to eat and other couples our age are sitting in silence looking at the ceiling or anywhere but their spouse. It is sad. We sit there chattering away and we get dirty looks from others since it makes them feel pressure to talk, too. You have to work to maintain a relationship outside of your children while they are growing up or you will not have one when they are gone. We are blessed that we knew that a long time ago.

    This may sound like an odd way to save but, we have hired our 11 year old neighbor boy to do yard chores for us. This allows my husband to do things like repairs on our house instead of doing outside chores over and over that take all of his free time. Our helper is a very hard worker and worth every penny of the $4 an hour that his parents asked that we pay him. They also want him to learn that helping others is important. A blessing for all of us.

    • Jo says:

      “You have to work to maintain a relationship outside of your children while they are growing up or you will not have one when they are gone. We are blessed that we knew that a long time ago.”

      Great advice! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience here. I truly appreciate it! I look up to you as a mentor, of sorts, even though I’ve never met you!

  • thar says:

    When we got married, the first financial decision we made (without any knowledge about the wisdom of it) was to take cash we had received for our wedding and pay off a credit card debt. Standing in the bank that day, we made one other unplanned, “blind” decision, and that was, “How should we set up our bank accounts?” After a 5 minute discussion, we concluded we should “just go with an ‘our money’ approach”, and that was the single most influential financial decision we have ever made.
    Fast forward 25 years, and we are nearly debt-free (mortgaged for 30 years in 2006, and will likely pay off in the next 5-6 years.) We don’t have much stress between us in the area of finances, and we absolutely feel it’s due to the “our money” approach. There were years where I was the bread winner, years where he was, and current years where I’m a stay-at-home mom with no income. No matter, -it’s all “our money.” It has been such a blessing.

  • connie says:

    Crystal, I am a 57 year old empty nester and read your blog. It’s so encouraging! My 20 something girls do also. One way I saved this week was to call my credit card company to dispute a charge that appeared on my bill that I believed was incorrect. The credit card company did all the investigating and saved us a $20 overcharge.

  • Cheryl S says:

    I have saved a lot and learned a lot from your blog. Thank you! Not sure how to word this but I was wondering if you or a guest reader would ever do a post when spending money is necessary because its the right thing to do vs. not spending it or saving it. We recently spent a large amount of money but it was absolutely the right thing to do for the well-being of another person and our entire family. We did not go into debt to do this but if we waited to save for it, we would never have done it and then I would have regretted it. I have no regrets but have a sense of guilt since I’m conditioned to be in money saving mode constantly now. I guess what I am saying, maybe a post where doing what is right is more important than doing everything debt free or waiting until we are debt free. Does that make sense?

  • Vickie says:

    I love to hear a couple in brace the concept of our money. Makes you feel more like your in this thing together.
    Exactly what we have done.

    I used some Velcro to replace the snap button on my 5 year old grandsons pants…it’s hidden behind the front snap that is still there. Not knowing how to fix them I was ready to give up and my husband gave me the idea.

  • Star says:

    This month my husband and I started having weekly financial meetings at a regular time and usually with a little dessert included to make it like a date. We are trying the cash envelope system for our discretionary spending and we are very happy with the results. We look over our receipts for the week and track all our spending. We discuss any bills that are coming up. We try to keep is short and sweet. The stress is gone and we are actually having FUN talking about our money!

  • Claire says:

    In our marriage it has always been “our money” too. For years I out-earned my husband, and now we are on the verge of him out-earning me as I prepare to quit my part-time job in a few months. But we are equal contributors to our family, and hence the money is equally ours. In fact, that’s one reason why we don’t often buy each other gifts. When I buy him something, I feel like I’m using his money to buy him a gift, and vice versa!

    As far as how I’ve saved: this week I’m hoping to save by doing my own taxes instead of paying someone to do them for me. That should save about $400. Last week we saved by calling my husband’s HR from his previous job to ask for a refund on our cobra payment, as the insurance cards from his new job arrived right after we had sent in the Cobra check. Thankfully they agreed, and that saved us $1300!

  • Valerie says:

    My saving this week is totally odd! We were on vacation, and we rented a house for a week. We only would eat out for lunch, and for breakfast had oatmeal or cereal, and for dinner we bought a big pan of lasagna from a local grocery store catering that was delicious, lasted most of the week, was far cheaper than eating out for dinners, and still meant we didn’t have to cook! (Making it more vacation-like for us!)

    Obviously traveling isn’t cheap but we try to do it smart so that we are spending on things we really enjoy (flying somewhere warm during ridiculously frigid new england winter), and saving on things that don’t matter to us (e.g. breakfast and dinner food– we aren’t foodies!)

  • Sue says:

    Last week my husband and I decided to go cash only for groceries. We set our budget and stuck to it. It was such a sense of accomplishment! We had been debiting way too much, but by having cash in hand we were very careful on what we spent. We are doing it again this week. I like looking at my bank statement online and NOT seeing a bunch of debits! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I stacked up deals at Meijer to get my kids some much-needed winter clothes with the cash they received as a gift from their aunt for such purpose.

    I found some fantastic deals. Example:
    Dress for oldest daughter – original price $22
    Clearance price $11
    -additional 25% off kids clearance apparel mPerk
    -15% apparel mPerk
    -50% off in-store discount on clearance
    -15% credit rewards discount
    The dress came to $2.58! I also got her a pair of slippers, snow pants, 3 packs of underwear and 3 pairs of leggings. For my youngest, I found mittens. I found the most for my son, who was in the greatest need for clothing. I got him 3 pairs of jogging pants, 3 pairs of pj pants, 3 t-shirts, a winter jacket. Stacking all the codes worked with no problems- everything auto-deducted. People were grabbing stuff off the racks once they realized how the discounts were working!

    While I was there, I got several half gallons of milk marked 90% off to $.42 each (organic milk) and 4-packs of yogurt for .50 each and yogurt singles for $.11 each. Everything had expiration dates through 2/8.

  • Ashley says:

    This week has been a struggle for me emotionally and physically. I definitely am looking forward to getting some more positive traction for the days ahead.

    BUT, this week was definitely saved by communication with my husband. Like you said about you and Jesse, we talk about everything! In addition to talking to our heavenly Father, Andy is my number one destination to completely open up to. The encouragement that he brings is incomparable

  • Misty Nicole Roberts says:

    I love this! You are such an inspiration, Crystal! My husband and I work together, too! We are also starting a new savings account this year, to purchase tax sale properties to rent out for extra income! Currently, we are both working on an every other month No-Spend Month Challenge to help such funds! the link to my challange: and today’s challange:

  • Tiffany says:

    Ok, I LOVED this!! I have read your blog since 2007 and have never heard about you meeting at 9&10!

  • Nicole says:

    We did a Financial Peace University class early in early 2014, and committed to using YNAB to keep track of our spending, and it has been revolutionary in keeping our finances in control. We have paid off our only student loan in 8 months, and have been able to allocate our funds to be ready for our baby (nursery and baby supplies paid for out of a sinking fund – check!) who should make his arrival in about 2 weeks. We now feel confident we can budget for daycare, and still have enough to live on and not compromise our emergency fund. By setting our financial priorities together, we have achieved so much more.

    And I have to say, I love the photos from Vail. 🙂 The first couple settings looked familiar, but the bridge with Tavern on the Gore behind you sealed the deal. I hope you had a wonderful time visiting our beautiful state!

  • Uma @ Centsible Indian says:

    We have a monthly financial meeting set up as well. We list down the priorities, outline the tasks to achieve our goals, and split between us. This helps us drive results and achieve our goals.

  • Cari says:

    You’re so lucky that you and and your husband can have these conversations. I’m a planner and LOVE to talk about finances (even when it’s depressing). However, it stresses my husband out and isn’t on his list of fun conversations. It’s been a balancing act of trying to figure out how much we talk about finances. We’ve finally made a monthly date that I look forward to and my husband dreads.

  • Steve Kobrin says:

    This is a really important topic, Crystal. Thanks for bringing it up. I can see the importance of getting on common ground with your spouse in order to make decisions that benefit both of you.

    My experience has been that some financial subjects are easier to talk about than other ones. For example, rental properties and other investments can be fun. But what about topics such as life insurance? Here the very delicate issue of someone’s mortality must be addressed. Do you have any advice for how that topic can be broached in a way that develops the feeling that it would benefit “us?”

  • Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says:

    Oh my goodness! That is so sweet that you guys met at such a young age! My hubby and I spend lots of time talking too. Every night he debriefs with me about his day. I think it’s a way for him to reflect and move on.
    I actually received my reimbursement check this week for my last oil change and tire rotation! I actually made money on the deal! Woot! Woot! I didn’t know if it would actually work or not but I have a check in my hands to prove there really is something to this secret shopping thing!!!

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