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Do You Budget Better Than Your Husband?

The odds are someone in your relationship knows how to budget better than other other.  That's fine.  Here's how to work on it together.

Couples.  Two people who merge their lives into one.  That also includes merging your money.  It’s very rare that two people will get married and earn the exact same income and have the exact same spending and savings habits.  So with that being said let me ask you a question, do you budget better than your husband?

The truth is people are different and one of you probably saves more than the other and one of you probably spends less than the other.  That’s just the way relationships go.  One of the great things about being in a couple is that your better half can balance out your shortcomings and help you learn to budget better or better manage your money.

Who budgets better in your household?

Spending priorities

The way people spend money depends on two things: habits and goals.  If you didn’t learn amount money as a kid you may not have grown up to be a budget savvy adult.  That’s O.K.  There are several ways someone can learn to budget such as talking to a financial advisor, tracking their spending and using a budget software such as Mint.com or YouNeedABudget.com.

Savings goals

It’s easy to stop spending when you have a reason to save.  When I was broke and living beyond my means I didn’t stop spending until I had a reason not to.  I knew I wanted to start travelling and probably someday buy a house so I stopped spending money on Starbucks, clothes and eating out.  I started saving towards things that I really wanted and that truly made me happy.

Monthly expenses

Helping your spouse budget better will help your overall relationship.  When the financial responsibility falls on one spouse it can cause resentment within the relationship.  It’s no secret that when a couple does things together, equally, they are a better, stronger couple for it.

Talk about your expenses and discuss who is going to pay what bills.  If one person earns more they may contribute a larger portion to the monthly bills, but it doesn’t mean everything has to fall on their shoulders.

Fun money for yourself

What do you really want to do with your money?  Actually let me ask you another question, if you were single what would you be doing with your money?  Would you travel?  Would you relocate?  Would you go back to school?  Think about that for a moment and whatever it is that you truly want to do set a little bit of your budget side for fun money.

So often people lose themselves in a couple and it’s so important for your relationship and personal well-being to think about yourself every now and then.

If you think your spouse spends too much ask them to review their bank account and credit card statements over the last month.  Maybe they don’t know they’re spending so much or maybe they don’t know how to stop spending money.

Tracking your spending is a great way to learn where you’re spending money and to spot where you can make cuts.  From there you can allocate your savings to something else – maybe towards something you can enjoy as a couple.

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Would You Sign a Prenup?

Should you sign a prenup is probably the better question, and the answer is yes.

Should you sign a prenup is probably the better question, and the answer is yes.  Whether you’re the initiator or the recipient a prenuptial agreement is a smart financial idea when entering into a marriage.  It protects your (and your spouse-to-be’s) interests when it comes to all aspects of your financial life together from daily spending to final arrangements if one of you passes away.

It’s not a secret that financial issues can be a source of stress in a relationship, especially if one person feels inequality.  Sometimes the subject of signing a prenup can bring out bad feelings, but that shouldn’t be the case.

Side note: Are you thinking of the Sex and the City episode when Trey asks Charlotte to sign a prenuptial agreement and her reaction is “I’m only worth $500,000, that’s all I’m worth?”  I always think of that when the subject of a prenup comes up.

Think of it as open communication in your marriage

As a financial planner I can tell you that feelings shouldn’t be hurt and intentions shouldn’t be questioned when it relates your couple’s money.  The truth is at the end of the day a prenup can help protect both parties in the marriage when it comes to spending, saving, investing and how credit is handled.

A prenup can have various clauses in it both financial and non money related.  It can outline several other monetary factors within the marriage other than what’s mine and what’s yours.  I think that’s a big misunderstanding about prenuptial agreements.

The point is not to separate your money, it’s purpose is to bring you both together on the same page so that there are no misunderstandings when it comes to money in your marriage.  When you think of it like that doesn’t it just make sense to have the lay of the land laid out in black and white when it comes to your individual and couple’s finances?

Don’t assume when it comes to money, put it in writing

A prenup doesn’t only stipulate what happens to money when you break up, it can also state how current finances are handled.  This includes how the monthly household bills are paid, who pays for the household expenses and what happens to family assets if one of you passes away.

According to Bankrate “Any couple who brings personal or business assets to the marriage can benefit from a prenup. You can basically do anything you want in a prenup, except you can’t limit child support, and you can’t limit child custody and visitation. The agreements can also specify that future income from a business or additional assets accrued through inheritance are not to be shared with your spouse should the marriage end.”

You can talk about non money related topics too

There are also a whole bunch of other non-financial clauses that can be put into a prenup, such as rules for intimacy, work schedules, obligations to the family and how your lives will change after you have kids.  However in my opinion those are all things that should be worked out as they happen in a marriage, it’s hard to predict feelings and reactions in a “what if” scenario.

When it comes to family finances I think it’s best to keep it plain and simple so everyone can agree on the terms.

How Women Make Money Online: Learn SEO

Learning SEO is a great way for female entrepreneurs to make money online. It helps new readers find your site through search engines.

It’s time for another post in our How Women Make Money Online series.  So far we’ve talked about how to get started and looked at a few of my personal favorite female entrepreneurs who have had success in their individual niche markets.  Today we are going to talk about the importance of SEO.  Whether you have a blog or a company website SEO is an important tool that helps new clients find you online.

With that said, please welcome Alexa from Single Moms Income.  She grew her online career and made enough money from being self employed that she could quite her day job.  She now works for herself, doing what she loves – and learning SEO was a big part of making that dream come true.

When did you start blogging and why?

I started blogging in November of 2012, just a few months after getting divorced. At the time I was desperate for a way to earn more money so that I could support myself and two kids and I knew that looking online was my best bet. I started my blog, Single Moms Income, to keep track of all the different online business ideas I was trying and to connect with like-minded people.

What’s the focus of your site and has it changed over the years?

The focus of my site has definitely changed over the years. When I first began I treated it a little like a diary and it had a much more personal touch. I’ve always talked about personal finance and work from home ideas but have transitioned into more home-based business topics.

Woman and two kids

Alexa from Single Moms Income and her two kids.

What do you attribute your online success to?

I attribute my online success to persistence. I think most people give up way too soon.

I did not have any overnight successes. In fact, it took me around two years to consistently earn $1,000 per month from my blog. Once I hit that mark things quickly snowballed but if I calculated hourly pay I probably made $2/hour those first couple of years.

Why is a focus on SEO so important when being online?

SEO is important for a variety of reasons. If you’re a blogger having good SEO helps people find you through the search engine which becomes a passive source of traffic unlike social media which can eat up your time very quickly.

If you sell a product or service SEO can bring targeted customers to you and help you make more sales. SEO is very important.

How did you learn about writing, running a website and SEO?

I learned through trial and error. I’ve come a long way these past few years. I’m actually embarrassed to go back and read some of my first blog posts – they are horrible! The more you do something the better you get and fortunately for me, I like to experiment.

The biggest chunk of traffic to my blog comes from the search engines. I have an SEO guide on my blog for that covers the exact steps I take when it comes to SEO which was all learned through a lot of experimenting.

Personal Confession:  I purchased Alexa’s SEO guide about a month ago and I find it very helpful.  So often techies talk in a language I don’t understand and Alexa talks as if she’s sitting beside you at the kitchen table.  The real life examples are helpful and can get anyone started with SEO – regardless of your knowledge level. It’s also only $9.  That’s an investment I can afford!

Is it easy for anyone, even beginners, to get started making money online?

I get asked this a lot and really depends on what you want to do. There are a ton of ways to earn money online. If you want to get started in an employee or independent contractor type position you can make money pretty quickly as long as you have the skillset needed.

Making money from a blog, however, can take a lot of time. It’s easy to get started but you’ve got to stick with it to see results.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give to anyone who wants to start an online business.

Don’t give up. It might take you a whole lot of experimenting to earn money and figure out what works for you. Push through and keep trying.

Also, take all advice with a grain of salt. There’s so much conflicting advice out there that it can be overwhelming. At the end of the day you have to do what feels right to you.

How to Rebuild Your Credit Score

If you're experiencing financial struggles, just remember it's temporary.  Here are three ways to rebuild your credit score.

Five years ago I was broke, couldn’t afford to pay my rent and had all of my credit cards revoked by the credit card companies.  Five years ago I had no credit cards and now I have three, two of which I don’t use, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

As a financial planner after the market crash I hit financial rock bottom and was forced to live on a cash budget.  That was new to me because for years I always had a credit card in my pocket and had a little glimpse of pride rush over me every time I swiped my credit cards…and I swiped them a lot.

I turned my financial life around, rebuilt my credit score and vowed to never go back to being broke.  If you’re going through tough financial times I am living proof that it’s only temporary and you’ll get through it – you just have to work at it.

Here are three ways to rebuild your credit score:

Stop using and pay off your balances

Whether it’s on your own terms or at the demand of the credit card company the first step to rebuild your credit score is to stop using your credit cards.   Before I even started thinking about using credit responsibly I paid off all my balances in full.  I don’t think I could have continued to spend within limits so I had to stop using my credit cards cold turkey.

Start with a store card

When you’re debt free and want to start using credit again you probably won’t be approved for a fancy, low rate or rewards card with a traditional lender such as a bank.  You’ll need to start at the bottom and work your way up.  Apply for a store credit card such as Macy’s.  These types of cards are usually easier to get approved, but in exchange the interest rates are higher.  So be sure to spend within your limits and pay off the balance each month so you don’t pay high interest charges.

Learn new habits

I will never forget the first time a bank offered me a credit card.  I cried.  I called BF with the good news and then I cried.  I had a second chance to rebuild my credit score and my financial life.  I promised then and there that I would always double guess my spending, be very selective as to what I charge to the new credit card and never ever misuse it again.

I think I installed a level of fear inside myself and if you want to rebuild your credit score you should too.  Think back to what it’s like to be broke and how hard it was to afford to eat and pay rent at the same time.  I’m sure you don’t want to go back to that kind of lifestyle and with that always in the back of your mind I’m sure you’ll always think twice before swiping your credit card.