Welcome back to Brown Girl Green Money! Last week I shared a few of my personal reflections on the the topic of marriage and money. A brief recap: I met my husband when I was 16 years old. We were high school sweethearts and then after three years we decided to do something crazy – get married! I was only 19 at the time and he had just turned 21. Looking back now, we were just babies, but you couldn’t tell us nothing back then! We were young, in love and ready to conquer the world! The last nine years have been awesome and I have learned a lot through both our failures and our accomplishments. We haven’t yet made it to the top, and by no means do we have it all together but the most important thing is that we are learning and growing as a TEAM. Last week I shared five of the top ten lessons I’ve learned over the last nine years:
1. Set up automatic payments for bills and keep the bill account separate from the personal spending account.
2. Communication is key! Consider having weekly or monthly financial check in meetings with one another.
3. Learn to establish limits when borrowing money to family members.
4. Invest early and don’t be afraid to take risks.
5. Make all major money decisions together.
Here are the final five:
6. Set GOALS together.
Ask yourselves where you want to be in 1, 5, 10 and 20 years. Keep the big picture in mind and make sure you are working toward the same collective goal. Revisit these goals periodically. Also, always be sure to support each other’s dreams. I love my hubby for this one: while I was in college, he worked full time to support me so that I wouldn’t have to work and could focus on getting good enough grades to make it into medical school. Now that I’m a doctor, he’s more freed up to pursue his passions and dreams, which I will support fully.
7. Be EXAMPLES for your children.
Teach them everything you can about finances, budgeting and money at a young age. This past week, our family went on vacation to Mall of America and Wisconsin Dells. To teach our kids about money we did an experiment: We gave them each envelopes with cash inside (I held them in my purse) and made them use the money for each toy/candy purchase they wanted to make throughout the week. Overall, they learned a lot about budgeting and saving and it was a great experience. The only problem is that my 4 year old still doesn’t quite get the concept of change. She got excited when she spent a $20 dollar bill thought she got “MORE dollars back!” — We are still working on that one 🙂
8. Incorporate money for VACATIONS into your yearly budget.
If you have worked hard all year to save and reach your goals then take time to celebrate. But when going on vacation, make sure to stick to the budget you’ve created! Again, we had to learn this the hard way. I’ll never forget the time we went on vacation to California shortly after being married to celebrate our one-year anniversary. Our budget was totally off and once we got there we spent way more than we should have. It was so embarrassing when my mom had to wire us money so we could make it back home. We learned a lot from that trip and it never happened again!
9. Utilize each other’s STRENGTHS.
For example, I’m better at online bill pay and technology than my hubby, so I manage most of the bill payments, but he is better at organization skills and keeping the big picture in mind so he focuses more on the overall budget. Working together is a beautiful thing.
10. NEVER FORGET THAT LOVE TRUMPS ALL.
I’d rather be broke and in love than rich and miserable. Don’t EVER allow arguments or disagreements over money to get in the way of your relationship. It’s not worth it. Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong. Be willing to look at things from your partner’s perspective. Be flexible. Be forgiving if/when your partner makes a financial mistake. At the end of the day remember, life is too short to be arguing over petty things like money. True wealth is found in late night laughs, trust, security, life experiences, health, family, and LOVE! Focus on these intangibles first and then everything else will fall into place.
Thank you taking the time to read this column!
Have a blessed day!
Jasmine Zapata, MD is a pediatrician, motivational speaker, public/preventative health advocate, mentor, mother, wife, and entrepreneur from the Madison area, whose mission is to heal, uplift, empower and inspire. She’d love to keep the conversation going and can be reached at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney, www.facebook.com/drjasminezapata or at firstname.lastname@example.org.