Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Combining Money & Love: Merging your finances

I’m surrounded by successful marriages: my parents just celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary, and my grandparents were married 55 and 66 years, respectively. Although I do have divorced friends, for the most part, me and my loved ones have found their one to ride out with, through thick and thin, good and bad.

The admiration in this is not that we’ve found the person that makes our heart race, but that we’ve figured out how to successfully merge our lives even when it isn’t comfortable. When the number one reason for divorce is money, how do you overcome and prosper? Look no further, I have some solutions:
Talk openly about money before tying the knot. Your partner’s income, debt load or credit score shouldn’t impact the love you have for them, but it does give you a glimpse into what you’re signing up for. Their debt becomes yours and their credit can either accelerate or decrease the speed of your financial goals. Know the circumstances before moving forward.

Define and stay in harmony with your financial goals. My cousin and his wife plan to move to the Caribbean with their two kids in the next few years. Is it important to you both to travel, send your kids to private school, retire at age 50, or something else? Determining your shared dreams and goals up front is key. Use that as fuel to save, pay off debt, and live below your means.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. For me to sleep well, I need to know there’s at least some money set to the side, and life and health insurance. You may need something different. Regardless, let your partner know and in turn adhere to their needs. Then create a plan to accomplish both your goals - and do so with no debt.

Check out those taxes. The U.S. tax code typically favors married households filing jointly, but check with a CPA in the event your circumstances warrant something different (and let me know if you need one. Mine is fantastic!)

Respect each other’s money skills. I’m great at saving and budgeting, but need prompting to invest and take financial risks. Fortunately, I’ve found someone who’s comfortable with stocks and mutual funds. He knows how to budget and where every dime is going, but doesn’t pay the bills. Figure out what each of you does best and lean into that role. And if you’re equally skilled, divvy the responsibilities by who prefers to do what.

Perform regular check ins. Even the best plans need to be reviewed. Come together no less than once a month to discuss how things are going, and assess whether any changes need to be made to the execution. As you get more comfortable, these ‘money meetups' will take less time and generate greater results.

And so it is.