“These past four months have been the most challenging times of our lives. And while we needed the love and support from everyone in this room, we couldn’t have done it without each other. And that’s what marriage is all about. We’ll celebrate life’s highs, we’ll overcome life’s lows, and, in the process, grow stronger together.”
A Little Bit About Us
That quote from our wedding describes marriages all over and, specifically, our past year. From the second half of 2017 to the first half of 2018, it’s hard to emphasize how much our world changed. A few examples:
- We moved from Chicago to a downtown apartment in Minneapolis
- We both started new jobs
- We sold a car
- We planned a wedding and honeymoon, which included $20k of our own money
- We combined bank accounts and finances
- We paid off over $10k of student debt
- We went to over 50 unexpected medical appointments and had over $9,000 of unplanned expenses
- And in the midst of all this, we started Financially Engaged
And in the next couple of weeks and months, we’re adding a dog (Riley) to the family. What made all of this possible?
We had a simple system in place that eliminated the guesswork.
Together, we knew where we stood financially and communicated frequently enough, so we could be on the same page. This allowed us to prioritize our wedding and puppy goals, absorb those unexpected medical bills, and take on the new career opportunities that can help us grow.
If we’re being realistic, it’s not all sunshine and roses. We still despise tracking expenses and only do it when we need a reality check on how much we’re spending. We also get irritated when talking about whether or not we can realistically meet our lofty goals in the next five years.
And that’s normal.
Few people operate in a financial utopia. But while it’s never perfect, at the end of the day we’re communicating, thinking ahead, and we can limit most of those financial regrets down-the-road.
Foresight > Hindsight
Without a system in place, it’s easy to feel lost. Generationally, we’re all thrown into adulthood, usually with mounds of student debt and little to no background on how to approach some of the biggest decisions we’ll make in our entire lives:
- Starting a career
- Buying an engagement ring
- Planning and paying for a wedding and honeymoon
- Paying off student debt
- Buying a new car
- Buying a first home
- Starting a family
- Eliminating a partner’s income to stay home with the kids
For people of all ages, it’s not easy, especially as a young-adult. Generally, the right approaches to these topics weren’t taught growing up, and if they were, they rarely focused on tackling life’s events with a partner. Instead, we’re typically expected to stumble through decisions, get into arguments, and learn from trial and error.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
While failure is a great teacher in life, wouldn’t it be better to learn these lessons ahead of time? When you need them? Fortunately, that’s all possible with the right system, and it doesn’t mean you have to be focused on cutting back and constantly limiting yourselves.
Unlike most financial sites, we don’t believe in frugality or focusing on what you can’t do all the time. We don’t tell you to avoid the latte, avoid the nice apartment, or throw every spare cent into retirement. Just like fad diets, it’s not realistic for most people to stick to these extremes, and therefore, not successful.
Sure, you can’t be reckless with your spending and, at times, you need to be more aggressive with setting up your emergency funds or paying down debt, but this becomes much easier once you’re aware of where you stand financially.
We believe the best way to achieve your goals and improve your standard of living is by developing flexibility in your financial life. This flexibility will help you seek out and seize opportunities when they present themselves.
- Start a side hustle (or full-time company) to add additional income
- Participate in a unique investment
- Make a career change that may pay less today, but has a much higher ceiling
And it’s these opportunities that will grow your financial security, help you pursue your passions, and let you live your best life, together – whatever that means to you.
Next Steps Forward
You do have to do a few basic things to set yourself up for success:
- Communicate with each other
- Track your net worth
- Simply stated, this is your assets (cash, car, etc.) less your debt
- Build a savings cushion to be able to absorb unexpected emergencies
- They happen – trust us
- 3-6 months of expenses is a good starting point
- Create a game plan for those large expenses you expect in the next 3-5 years
- A little advance planning can result in thousands of dollars in your pocket and peace of mind
- Pay your credit cards off IN FULL each statement
Fortunately, we have some of the best tools out there to help you lay this out easily. Going forward, we’ll continue to provide you with key “How-To’s” and tools that help you create a system with your partner that works and that makes life’s major events more straightforward.
Being on the same page with your finances will make sure you can celebrate life’s highs, overcome life’s lows, and grow stronger together as you enjoy the in-between. We hope you decide to keep following along!