personal finance

How to Discuss Finances Before Tying the Knot

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We all know that finances play a huge part in a marriage. If you’re dating someone long-term or currently engaged, have you had this conversation yet?

According to a survey done by American Express, only 43% of the general population talk about money before marriage. 12% have never talked about money with their spouse - how is that possible!?

Being able to openly communicate with your partner about anything, especially finances, is a great quality to have in a relationship and can either make it or break it. Here’s how you can have this conversation without fear of upsetting your partner:

Wait until you have been with this person for a long time, or you see a future with them.

Money is a scary topic for a lot of people - it can cause judgement of character, or create feelings of inadequacy. Don’t bring up the topic if you don’t think it’s necessary - rather, wait until you’ve developed a deeper relationship with your partner, and when you feel comfortable enough that you can talk to them about anything.

Instead of springing it on them, let them know ahead of time that you’ve been thinking about it and would like to talk about it. This gives you both time to prepare.

Know what you’re willing to bend on and what you absolutely can’t negotiate.

Before having this conversation with someone else, know where you stand. Take time to reflect or write down your own money rules, and figure out which ones you are willing to compromise on and which ones you can’t break. You’ll feel much more prepared going into the conversation and discussing your partner’s thoughts when you don’t have to worry about organizing your own.

Keep it general and lighthearted at first, and read the conversation.

Does your partner look relaxed, or are they crossing their arms and leaning away from you? Are you able to laugh or make jokes, but still keep the conversation on track? Go in easy, and then delve deeper when able to. Also, be sure to avoid accusatory statements - this isn’t a blame game.

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Be honest.

Chances are, you’ve got some financial skeletons in your closet, and so does your partner. Make sure not to hide anything that could come up and ruin both of your finances in the future. Talk about any debts you may have, your credit score, and any other money issues that could come up in the future - the sooner you bring these out into the open, the sooner you two can come up with an action plan so that they aren’t hindrances in building your lives together.

If you disagree about something, try to find a compromise.

This is a great reason why preparing ahead of time is key. There’s a good chance that you and your partner will not agree on everything. Are you two able to compromise, or are you being strong-willed about a rule? Are they not willing to loosen the reins a little? This part can be tough because it could mean the end of your relationship - but again, it’s much better to get these grievances out in the open now, than to be in too deep later.

If the conversation goes south, be willing to let each other cool off and come back to it later. Not everything has to be discussed in one sitting, and sometimes, it’s better that way - money talk can be overwhelming. As long as the important details are discussed, and you two can come to an agreement, your relationship will thrive and come out that much stronger.

Need help preparing your financial rules? Book a free consultation with us - we can help you figure out exactly where you stand financially!

How to Increase Your Financial Literacy This Month

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April is Financial Literacy Month! Now that we’re done with Q1, this is a great time to check in with your finances, set goals for yourself for the next quarter (and the rest of the year), and improve your knowledge about finances!

Here are three different ways to increase your financial literacy this month:

Read, read, read!

Physical books, blog posts, news articles - just keep on reading! Here at Milborn, we have a curated feed of news articles and blog posts all about personal finance, so we can stay on top of the latest reads! You can start your own free curated feed at Feedly.

Don’t want to stare at a screen all day? Make this your excuse to head to your favorite book store! Some good ones to start with include The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey; Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki; and Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry (her new book, Broke Millennial Takes on Investing, comes out April 9th!).

Arm Yourself With the Right Tools

Are you doing anything outside of checking your statements? Do you even check your statements? Now’s the time to start.

If your bank has a mobile app, download it. If you aren’t tracking a budget, start (If you don’t want to do it yourself, apps like Mint can make it so much easier)! If you want to get into investing, research investing sites or apps (Robinhood or Acorns are great ones to try if you find investing a bit intimidating).

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Create a Team

This one is so important - make sure you have a good support system, and check in with them if you haven’t yet. This includes making sure you have a strong and capable financial advisor. At Milborn Advisors, we are your guide, as well as your allies - we make sure to give you the best possible advice for your current situation, without any hidden fees or tactics. You’re as much on our team as we are on yours, and we want to see you succeed.

Want to take us for a test-drive first? Contact us today for your free first consultation.

Are you trying anything else to increase you financial literacy this month? Comment your tips below!

No Spend March: Week Four

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We made it! The final week of No Spend March. While I feel that it was a good experiment and challenge to try, I will admit, the idea of forcing myself to not spend money felt like I was, in a way, shackling myself to my work and my home. While I may have a few extra dollars in my bank accounts, I passed up on many opportunities to see friends and socialize because, “I’m doing a no-spend challenge for work.”

Sure, it was entirely my choice to partake, but I definitely felt why it can be difficult to not spend money, especially when everyone around you is.

Let’s go over my final week!

Friday I repeated a mistake I made the first week - I found myself after a photoshoot hungry with no preparation, so I ended up going to Jimmy John’s for lunch. While it may be slightly better for me than McDonald’s (who am I kidding?), it was certainly not better for my wallet. Money spent: $11.11

In case you forgot, this Saturday was my day to allow myself to spend money, because I went to the Comic Convention and Entertainment Expo (also known as C2E2) in Chicago. I bought two Blu-Rays of shows I had been looking for for such a long time, and got Joel and I Taco Bell after our hellishly long day driving in Chicago traffic and walking 20,000 steps. We were not in a mood to cook. Money spent: $156.31

Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, I kept some restraint for the rest of the week, because I know I had to make up for this past weekend.

So, now that this challenge is over, what have I learned?

  1. I figured out times where I am more likely to spend money. My impulses are driven by hunger, always. This is why diets are the worst thing in the world for me (the latter of which I’m trying to attempt in an effort to clean up my eating habits). So, if I know I’m going to have a long morning or day of being on my feet, I need to prepare myself for that.

  2. I now take my time to decide what purchases take priority. Not being able to spend money has given me a lot of time to figure out what I need and want to purchase. I give myself less grief spending on items I need, and find more joy in spending on items I want, because I now give myself more time to reflect before purchasing.

  3. Sometimes, I’ll have to spend money, and that’s O.K. I’ve always made myself feel guilty when making purchases. Have you ever gone shopping with someone who carries an item around the store with her for most of the time, only to put it back right before you leave? Yeah, that’s me. Sure, reflecting is good (as I mentioned in my prior point), but also - I shouldn’t deny myself the simple pleasures of life simply because I feel guilty parting with my money.

Now, I better understand not to spend money frivolously by being prepared ahead of time, think about the purchases I want to make, and then, when the time comes, actually go for it and enjoy the process.

How did your month of no-spending go? Did we inspire you to try a no-spend month? What did you learn over the process? Leave your comments below!

(Also, if you’re nervous about not spending money - did you know Milborn Advisors can help you make a budget? Budgeting is a great way to figure out where your money is going and how not to spend it impulsively. Contact us today for a free consultation!)

No Spend March: Week Three

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This week seriously felt like it dragged. This is probably because I’m going to C2E2 this Saturday (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo), and I’m beyond excited. It’s my first time going to a convention this large, and there’s a very strong chance I’ll be in the same room as Paul Rudd at some point - excuse me while I fangirl at the age of almost-30.

But, why do you care about my nerdy pursuits!?

Well, financially speaking - Saturday is also my cheat day! I’m looking forward to spending guilt-free; I tend to hold myself back at conventions and not really buy things for myself, so I’m looking forward to splurging a little bit more this weekend.

With that being said, let’s go over my week.

Friday started off with a bit of spending - I was low on some skincare items, which, while they aren’t technically a necessity, they are something I prefer to have just because good skincare makes me feel better, inside and out. So, we’ll add those items to the spending. Money spent: $60.04

This was also the weekend we celebrated my brother’s birthday, so on Saturday, I got him a super nice jean jacket with an old-school Metallica poster sewn into the back of it (he loves metal and rock music). Money spent: $105.15

While the first two days were rocky spending-wise, the rest of the week went off without a hitch. I got to see some friends and relax on Sunday, and then Monday was back to my usual routine. I’ve actually been enjoying making my own lunches every day and seeing what Joel comes up with for dinner at home - plus, Thursdays are my fish night (he doesn’t like seafood), so I always look forward to salmon, kimchi, and jasmine rice to end my work week. Plus, cooking is - dare I say it- kind of fun?

I’m starting to realize that there are circumstances where spending will be inevitable, because of birthdays, or holidays, or other events happening (no matter how much you may try to DIY-it or try to find another way to not spend money), but I’m also realizing that spending is okay, as long as it’s mindful. Make sure your spending has a purpose, rather than spend just to spend.

Total Spent for the Week: $165.19

No Spend March: Week Two

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For the entire month of March, Amy is taking part in a no-spend challenge! Want to join her and track your progress? Join the Facebook Group!

The first two days of this week went pretty well. My dad texted me asking if we wanted to get dinner with him and my mom, so we went to a place on the East Side called Strange Town. It’s an all-vegan tapas-style restaurant that’s super cozy and reminded me of dining in New York. It was super cool - if you don’t mind foregoing meat for a meal, definitely check it out!

Thankfully, my parents know about my no-spending month, so they picked up the tab - which, I believe they were going to do anyway, but I made sure to thank them profusely.

Sunday, unfortunately, was a bit of a different story. I had two photoshoots back-to-back that day, which meant I didn’t have time to go home for lunch, nor did I have time in the morning to prep my own. So, McDonald’s was my saving grace. Felt gross and terrible about spending money, even if it was a small amount. Money spent: $5.28

Monday comes around, as do my new classes for school. Looking at the syllabus, I realized I had to purchase a textbook. The school store was offering it for $186- I found a PDF version on a different website for under $20.

Also - remember how I was lamenting about having to discontinue Amazon Prime after the two-week trial? Well, turns out they have a fantastic special for students - so now, I get six months free with my school e-mail! Thank you, Jeff Bezos. Money spent: $19.95

The next day, I had my hair appointment that I had scheduled prior to my decision to do a spending freeze. Since it isn’t a necessity, I suppose I should count it, along with the Lyft ride that got me there. Money spent: $98.65 (eek).

The rest of the week went well - no reason to spend money, so I didn’t!

Total Spent This Week: $123.88

Comparing to last week, I did much worse in terms of spending. The only one I truly feel guilty about, however, is the fast food purchase - it was the only thing I didn’t need and didn’t plan out ahead of time, so now I know that if I’m going to be in situations like Sunday, I need to make sure to prepare myself ahead of time.

Is your spending freeze still going strong? What are some purchases you have trouble curbing? Comment below!

No Spend March: Week One

By Amy Lancaster

By Amy Lancaster

For the entire month of March, Amy is taking part in a no-spend challenge! Want to join her and track your progress? Join the Facebook group!

Last week’s post, I announced that I was going to be spending the entire month of March doing, well, the opposite - not spending.

Let’s see how my first week panned out!

(PS - I’m only counting expenses that I would otherwise not normally make - anything outside of transportation, bills, groceries, and other necessities for myself will not be counted.)

I started the month by realizing my cat needed more dry food, and of course, I cannot let her go hungry, so I had to get her her specialty food. It definitely costs more than the average cat food, but she’s going to live until 40, so I have to invest in that. Plus, I count her expenses as necessary, since a cat’s gotta eat, too.

Friday also decided to start with me getting sick, so outside of two hours, I spent the entire weekend in bed. This was definitely good for my wallet and any possible temptation. I also made sure to stay away from any shopping sites online. Joel and I did go check out the new Campsite 131 bar in the Third Ward, and he was kind enough to take care of the tab.

On Sunday, I was still sick. We made our usual grocery run, and Joel was (once again) kind enough to get us Cousin’s and satisfy my sandwich craving (is it weird to crave sandwiches?). Yes, I know I eat out too much - hoping to curb that habit this month as well.

On Tuesday, I woke up to a message from a photography group asking for the fee for the styled shoot I’m participating in on Sunday. I applied to this back in February and forgot that the payment would be made this month.

Thursday I was given an reminder that my free trial of Amazon Prime would expire the next day, so I had to - regretfully - cancel my membership before the charging period started. It pains me to turn it away (for now), but I have to commit to my goal!

Total Money Spent This Week: $10

For the first week, this is absolutely not bad. I’m hoping next week, I can make it $0, and keep it that way for the rest of the month!

How was your first week of No-Spend March? Have you joined our group yet? Click here to join and get support throughout the month!

No Spend March

By Amy Lancaster

By Amy Lancaster

So, this post is a little different from the rest.

As someone who is newer to the personal finance world, and – as someone who likes a challenge – I’ve decided to embark on different monthly challenges to help me improve my finances.

Looking back at my budget last month, I was floored by how terrible of a job I did. I tried to limit myself to $25/week in eating out, and $50/week in shopping (clothing, makeup, fun materialistic items, you know – things I don’t really need), and I absolutely failed. Granted, I had to do some extra spending for upcoming photoshoots as well as indulge in one of my nerdier interests via a local convention – but those acts alone made my budget completely crash and burn for the rest of the month.

Therefore, this month, I am forcing myself to do a spending freeze. Here are my personal rules:

  1. Only spend money on absolute necessities. This includes bills, groceries, transportation, and prior commitments (I have a hair appointment this month, but I feel it’s a bit of a win in terms of saving money because I have been able to work out a deal with my hairstylist to make it less expensive).

  2. Allot for one cheat day. This month, I’m going to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on March 23rd – this will be the one day that I will allow myself to spend money on whatever I want (within reason, of course).

  3. Figure out ways to save more money. There are a few things I could most likely do without that I am paying for every month. This month, I will go through any recurring expenses and see where I can cut some corners.

  4. Share weekly updates. I’ll be posting weekly updates via this blog to share my experience, what went well, and what I can improve on for next week.

  5. Encourage others to join. This is where you come in! Because I have the discipline of my cat the moment a treat enters her field of vision, I will be creating a Facebook group for this that anyone can join! I’ll also be promoting the hashtag #milborntosave on our social media – so, if you want to share anything pertaining to this, make sure to use the hashtag!

Your rules don’t have to be exact to my own – everyone’s circumstances are different, and people have situations where they have to spend money on things besides the necessities. Just make sure to tailor your rules to your situation in the best way that will make sure you come out ahead by the end of the month!

Ready to join the challenge? Join the group and comment below if you’re #milborntosave!

My 2019 Financial Goals

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By Amy Lancaster

Me 5 years ago would have never believed that I would have this much control over my money situation. I always thought I was doomed to forever live from paycheck-to-paycheck, stuck in a small apartment eating ramen in the dark and only traveling in my dreams. But, I will say – working at a financial firm has seriously changed my life in terms of my finances. Just from being at Milborn for less than a year, I’ve managed to keep a consistent budget since August and put away over $2,000 in savings.

Still, there’s always room for growth – and, as a millennial always being told to live her “best life”, I know I can’t settle for my current situation. While I am in a much better position than I was just a couple years ago, this momentum has given me motivation to aim my goals a bit higher and start experiencing life the way I’ve always wanted.

With that being said, here are my financial goals for 2019.

  1. Save over 3 months’ worth of income in an emergency fund. I’ve done a lot of research into what exactly I should have in my emergency fund, and it’s ranged from $1,000 all the way to one year’s worth of income. Of course, I believe that having more in there is better, but at some point, I don’t want to spend the rest of my career putting away money into an emergency fund and instead put that money to work, so I’d like to have a cap-off. While the finish line will be six months for me, this year it’s more realistic for me to get to three months.

  2. Put money away towards my July trip to Japan so that I don’t have to dip into money from any other accounts. This is a goal I am very excited about. I’ve wanted to go to Japan for a very long time, and it’s been years since I’ve left the country. I never thought I’d be able to properly budget my money or make enough to make it a reality to actually save for a trip, but now that I’m in a more comfortable position financially, I want to take advantage of that. The goal is to have $3,710 (which, according to Money We Have, is an ideal budget for a  two-week trip), which means I’ll need to save $742 a month from now until July (along with the $530 I already have put away).

  3. Buy a new computer. After my big financial save for Japan, my next savings goal will be to get myself a new computer. While the one I have is good for day-to-day work and school, I want a computer that can handle my photography and creative endeavors, and one that I know I can rely on for years to come (whereas I’ve had this computer for less than two years and the keyboard is already broken, as well as the laptop-to-tablet switch feature is glitchy). The model I’m eyeing up – MacBook Air 256GHz (in rose gold, of course) is $1,399, which means if I want it by January of next year, I’ll need to put away roughly $117 every two weeks starting in August.

  4. Start putting away 10% of income towards retirement. After that goal, I will think of another savings goal (probably save up for an iMac, because I’d also like a desktop computer), but I know I really need to look into saving for retirement because – I’ll be candid – I have nothing saved. Stocks, IRA’s, and all that jargon really scared me until I started working for Milborn. Now, I have a better understanding just from hearing the day-in-day-out talk between Mark and Drew. By knowing I can save for retirement and still have fun in the present, I can be a little more willing to, you know, actually save.

  5. Invest? Actual investing, however, still intimidates me a little bit. I don’t have to start paying off school loans until I graduate (summer of 2020), so I may hold off on this until I pay those off – which are thankfully as of right now my only source of debt. Nevertheless, I will continue to do my research so that I have a clear plan of how exactly I want to invest when the time comes.

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Writing down goals always helps me stay on track. Plus, sharing goals keeps me accountable! What are you financial goals for 2019? Comment them below!