Episode 97: Running a Business as a Couple with Angela Greaser
This week I sat down Angela Greaser to talk what it’s like running a business with your significant other.
Angela is a strategic operations consultant and co-founder of All The Ops. Led by Angela and her husband Dan, All The Ops helps business owners structure efficient teams and systems to skyrocket their profitability and claim their CEO seat.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
How Angela and her husband decided to go into business together
Deciding what role each spouse plays in the business
The benefits of understanding each spouse’s business strengths and weaknesses
The two reasons why Angela and her husband chose to have a business together
The goods and bads of having your significant other as your business partner
How communication can make or break spouses in business together
Why being flexible has to be a part of the framework
How to align your life and business goals
The importance of being intentional in your business
The risks involved with going into business with your significant other
Why you should have an exit strategy if the initial plan doesn’t work out
Three questions Angela and her husband asked to see if their business together would be sustainable
In today’s world, there’s a lot of pressure on women to succeed both in the workplace and at home. Yet, when people think of a household with dual-income, people often think of the man in a relationship being the family’s primary breadwinner. A breadwinning woman has a varied of different financial pressures and benefits that come with it.
It’s an old-school idea, but the outdated concept of who can be financially successful in a marriage (and who stays home) is still prevalent in our society. However, this idea isn’t always reality.
More and more women are starting to outearn their male partners, and I work with several families who are falling into this earning category. In fact, in my own family, I’m the breadwinner. With this much first-hand exposure to women who are taking the financial lead in their families, I’ve seen the benefits of this dynamic first hand. However, I’ve also seen the stress and anxiety it can cause if both partners aren’t dedicated to supporting one another.
Today, I want to talk about the experience of being a breadwinning woman – from the unexpected stresses, to how my family and others make this dynamic work.
My Own Experience
For many years, my husband and I have been in a dual-income household. There were years when he was the primary breadwinner and recently we went through a stint where I was the sole provider. As of now, we’re back to being a dual-income household with me as the breadwinner while both of us work to develop our careers in new and exciting ways.
There have been so many benefits to me being the breadwinner for our family – both when my husband was working, and when I was the sole provider. However, there have also been several unexpected drawbacks that I couldn’t have anticipated.
The Pressure of Being a Breadwinning Woman
I should start by saying that my husband is always my #1 fan, and I’ve never made a career move that wasn’t supported 100% by him. I’ve also always been a proud, strong woman who has never been afraid to grow in my career. So, I was surprised when I felt a new kind of pressure stepping into a breadwinning woman role. In the back of my mind, there was a worry that people would judge how my husband and I chose to run our family.
That’s because, even for someone who is as confident as I am, the pressures of our culture can eat away at anybody’s self-worth. Female breadwinners often are judged for whether or not they’re being a good enough mom, how they run their household, or what role they take on in their community. Male breadwinners are often viewed as responsible and as strong leaders in the workplace, while female breadwinners can be viewed as too aggressive. The hypocrisy is endless, and it can be overwhelming at times.
The Financial (And Non-Financial) Considerations For Being a Breadwinning Woman
Beyond just the cultural stress and judgment that may accompany being a breadwinning woman, there are other pros and cons to consider.
Even if you’re the breadwinner in your family, and you and your partner are secure financially, it may feel like you’re hustling 10x harder to make the same amount that your male colleagues are bringing home. This can cause extra stress.
Advocating for yourself in the workplace to continue to earn what you’re worth is a critical part of supporting your family financially, and continuing to increase your net worth.
Planning For Retirement
Another financial consideration is the longer lifespan that women often have. Whether you’re the breadwinner or not, it’s still important to think about how you’ll be financially supported should you outlive your partner. If you’re the primary income earner, you may be taking the lead on funding your savings goals – from building your emergency fund, to contributing to your retirement accounts.
Regardless of whether you or your partner earn more, a savings plan should be put in place to support both of you throughout your years as a retiree. Even if that financial stressor seems like it’s in the distant future, it’s worth the conversation with your partner. Take the time to determine what you’ll both need in retirement, and put a savings plan in place that protects each of you.
Pressure In The Workplace
If you’re the breadwinner in your household, you might find a unique kind of pressure to continue providing for your family while still upholding a spotless reputation at work, and pushing to continue your career growth. It can be a lot of unexpected anxiety. Communication in your relationship, and in the workplace, can help to combat this. Worrying about whether or not you’re knocking it out of the park at work is normal, but if you’re feeling extreme pressure and anxiety to be perfect 100% of the time, it might be time to speak up and ask for support.
Being a Breadwinning Woman Works For My Family – And It Can Work For Yours
Despite the pressures of being a breadwinning woman, there are also many benefits. It’s worked for my family for years – and it can work for yours too. The key is to communicate clearly and often with your partner. Approaching decisions in your relationship, financial and otherwise, should be done together as a team. Here are a few ways you and your partner can find success as a family with you as the breadwinning woman:
#1: Understanding your own anxiety about being a breadwinning woman. The more you’re able to be honest with yourself and your partner about how you’re feeling and the stories or money scripts that may be playing in your mind, the less anxious or frustrated you’re going to feel. Don’t shy away from being introspective!
#2: Remember that you two define your roles in your family – nobody else. For example, having spent a period of time as the sole income earner, my husband took the lead on day-to-day parenting, time with our kids, and managing the household (a full-time job in itself). During this season I was growing Workable Wealth, investing time in my team, and expanding my personal finance educational platform. It helped tremendously to know that we had decided on these roles as a team, and that we were each contributing to our family’s success.
#3: Approach your financial plan together. By approaching your life and your family’s money as a team, you remove a significant amount of stress each of you can feel when being the primary provider. You’re also able to make ongoing decisions for the greater good of your team, without feeling frustrated with one another.
#4: Get real about the division of labor. As the primary income earner in your house, there might not be time to crush it at work and keep your home life in perfect shape. Sit down with your partner to figure out who’s taking the lead on what household chores, or other family responsibilities and what you can outsource. Do you need a housecleaner, someone to help with laundry or meal prep? Be as specific as possible and delegate out if it’s within your means. The more clear you both are on how you’re working together and where you need help, the less likely you are to feel responsible for everything.
#5: Set clear boundaries. It’s important to set boundaries both at work and with people in your personal life. This might mean you leave your phone on the kitchen counter in the evenings to avoid late-night checking your email. It might mean politely declining to talk about your family’s financial decisions with your friends or prying mother in law. You get to set boundaries with yourself and others to live your best life and protect your family.
Being a breadwinning woman can be tough, even with the most supportive partner. The most important thing is that the two of you are making the best possible decision for your family as a team. All of the pressures you might face are so much easier when you face them together!
Marriage is all about the combining of two elements. Two people, two households, two families – and usually two sets of finances. That’s why I’m never surprised when the first question I hear from my married clients is, “Should we merge our bank accounts?”
Deciding how to deal with money in a marriage is tricky, and what works for one couple might be disastrous for another. If you’re engaged to be married – or know someone who is – here are some considerations couples should take into account before deciding whether or not to combine finances.
The Case for Combining
One bank account simplifies everyday transactions because every expense is shared equally. There’s no question of who’s turn it is to pick up the dog food or the dry cleaning. There’s no need to keep tabs of who paid last month’s rent or the mortgage bill.
It can also strengthen the notion that each person is part of a team and not a solo player. For the fiercely independent, combining finances can be an opportunity to let their guard down and embrace a more vulnerable approach to marriage. A few other benefits to merging your finances are:
Joint accounts allow for full disclosure. You’re able to see what both you and your partner are spending and can check-in with each other along the way.
It’s easy to manage. Paychecks are deposited to one place. Bill payments, groceries, dining out, and all other monthly expenses come from that same place. Who pays for what doesn’t become an issue. Sounds easy enough.
While bills will get paid and goals funded whether accounts are merged or kept separate, when operating with a joint account, spending habits are revealed and your spouse may turn into your accountability partner in reaching joint goals and helping you kick habits that may be detrimental to your financial success.
Personally, my hubby and I merged finances and even share a main credit card at this point (although we both have separate cards for credit score purposes). We leverage one card to maximize credit card points towards travel and by following an “unbudget” we give ourselves an amount to spend every two weeks we please. We’ve found that this keeps us on track for our bills and goals, and allows us the freedom and flexibility to spend as we’d like within our limits.
Drawbacks of Combining Finances
Keep in mind that mixing money doesn’t prevent marital discord. In fact, money is one of the biggest tension-causers in a marriage. A saver could be shocked at their spouse’s daily latte intake, while a spender might feel like a child being nagged.
If there are stark differences in how each spouse approaches money, they’ll become apparent very quickly. The best way to prevent disagreements is to establish a compromise early on. Couples who combine their finances can still have allowances to spend money as they wish. Each person receives a set amount every month to use on discretionary items like clothes, concert tickets or hobbies.
Smiling About Separate Finances
For second or third marriages where both parties have established retirement accounts and assets, more experts will recommend staying separate. Older couples often keep their finances separate after marriage, especially if they have kids from previous relationships. It can be too complicated to merge everything after decades of separation. People who have been in abusive relationships might also feel more secure and autonomous having separate finances.
Two accounts can also prevent financial disputes and unnecessary conversations – like why your partner buys a new fishing pole if they already have five in the garage. It promotes an element of personal responsibility, where each spouse is responsible for their own financial well-being – and therefore free to spend as they please.
With separate finances, couples can still work together to pay the bills. They can set up a joint account where each person contributes an equal amount, or a sum proportional to their income. This system can be used for all household bills, as well as any family emergencies that crop up.
Reasons to Smile
There’s no awkwardness about income ranges. When one spouse makes more than the other, having separate accounts and dividing up the bill payments accordingly can help each to feel like they are contributing, but not carrying the full weight of the payments due.
Debt is kept separate. When either spouse is bringing debt into the marriage, it may make sense to keep things separate until debt is paid off. This will allow the spouse with the debt to work on spending and money management skills and ensure healthy habits are formed before combining.
Habits don’t need to be changed. You put aside what is needed for bills and goals and whatever is left is yours to do with. This is ideal when one partner spends more or less than the other. Spending habits, from frequency to size of expenditures, can cause tension when they’re differing.
You can combine forces when paying bills. You can choose to keep all items separate and divvy up joint bills for payment, or you can maintain your separate accounts and open a joint account meant for paying household bills out of.
Drawbacks of Separate Finances
Some experts think that separate accounts build distrust and acrimony between couples. Others say it’s the same as individual email addresses, and allows each party to maintain some semblance of independence. Ultimately, if you choose to keep separate finances, the key is to communicate about your expectations. How are you going to handle shared bills? Who is going to pick up the tab when you go out to eat? Are you only keeping some of your finances separate? These are all questions that you should be able to answer together.
Commitment & Communication
Whether you choose to merge your money or keep separate accounts, communication and commitment are key! If you’re merging finances, determine how you’ll manage the accounts and spending. If you’re keeping things separate, assign how and who will pay which bills and determine amounts to allocate towards joint goal funding.
Remember, separate accounts don’t mean separate goals, and it’s not an excuse to keep financial secrets. Set a schedule for money dates or regular check-in’s, and be sure to evaluate your strategies as your situation changes.
Fights over finances can stem from a number of causes, ranging from disagreements over goals and priorities to feelings of anger and resentment over who earns more. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make smart money choices together.
Here’s the good news: arguing over money doesn’t need to be the norm in your relationship. You can reduce anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions over your household finances by taking action to become a financially savvy couple who feels confident and excited about the future.
And most importantly, you can feel financially in tune with your partner so that money fights don’t happen in your house. So, what money choices can you start making together? And how do you get on the same page?
Talk It Out
You need to be communicating about your finances from the early days of your relationship. If you’re already a few years in – better late than never! The first step to becoming a financially savvy couple: communicate! Remember, you’re a team and you can work together to achieve your goals and get what you want. But you can’t do this successfully if you don’t speak up, share your ideas, and understand what your partner thinks.
Always be honest, remain open, and don’t bottle up negative feelings.
Set up a framework to ensure each person’s thoughts and ideas are heard on a regular basis. Put a monthly “money date” on your calendar. Take 30 minutes to an hour once a month to sit down with your partner and go over all of your finances.
Look at your budget, pull up your bank and credit card accounts, examine your bills, and look at your retirement fund and investments. Evaluate what happened with your money last month, and make a plan to correct any mistakes or reign in any runaway spending for the upcoming month.
Then, brainstorm ways you can continue to improve your current actions with your finances. Save some time at the end to discuss goals, hopes, and dreams and ways you can continue to feel motivated and inspired to work for those things.
When you sit down for regular check-in’s, or “money dates” to talk about your finances as a couple, it can be helpful to ask each other questions and listen to your answers. A few of the questions you can be asking one another are:
Are we combining our bank accounts?
What’s our monthly budget?
Are we staying on track to meet our financial goals?
What are our financial goals?
Who is in charge of the day-to-day finances?
Are you happy with how we’ve been handling our money?
Having these conversations on a regularly scheduled basis is key to finding your financial footing as a couple.
Set Goals as a Team
If one of you is set on paying down your debt, and the other is focused on fully funding your retirement savings, you may have to pick and choose which goals get prioritized. In an ideal world, we’d all be on the same page about our financial priorities, but that doesn’t always happen. Checking in regularly to better understand what your goals are, and if priorities have shifted, is incredibly important.
Couples who are financially savvy understand the importance of staying organized. This can help with everything from small, everyday situations to your big annual trip to your accountant’s office to file taxes.
When you keep records and document all aspects of your finances, you create a detailed source of information when you have questions or aren’t sure about the right decision to make. You can reference your files to solve problems, answer questions, and realize what money moves make the most sense for you in the present.
And of course, keeping records of your cash flow — in other words, keeping a budget — means you stay on track for the future, too.
Track Your Progress
Don’t let your money run wild without supervision. Financially savvy couples track income and spending so they can evaluate whether or not they’re putting their available dollars to the best use.
Another smart money move once you’ve started tracking your finances: measure your progress! Each month, measure how much your savings has grown. Keep tabs on your home value. See if your income is growing or staying stable.
You can also put all these metrics together to measure your net worth. This is a good indication of your overall financial health.
When you track and measure, you understand what’s going on and you can see your progress over time — and that can be a huge motivating factor to help you keep going.
Focus on Debt
Debt is a huge point of contention amongst couples, so focusing on a gameplan to knock it out together can take a lot of financial pressure off of your relationship. If you have multiple debts, they may feel completely overwhelming. Before you panic, know that you and your partner can do this! And there are a few strategies you can use to help make it easier. The first strategy is known as the avalanche method.
This method directs you to prioritize your debts by their interest rates. You work to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first (while still paying the minimums on your other debts). Mathematically, this makes the most sense. The interest rates on loans and credit cards cost you more the longer you hold on to them, and of course higher rates cost you the most. But some people find it really intimidating to try and tackle their biggest, baddest debt as the first step toward debt freedom.
If you prefer to start small, you can try a different strategy that comes at the problem from the other end. This strategy, known as the snowball method, involves prioritizing debts in order of the amount of money you owe. You start with the debt with the smallest balance and work your way up, regardless of interest rate.
This is helpful for those that feel discouraged by the amount of debt they’re in, as it should give them a quick win. However, it may not be the most financially efficient way to deal with all of your debt. You may end up paying more in the long run if you let high interest rate debts sit on the back burner while repaying other balances. What matters is that you’re making progress with your debt and moving in the right direction. It’s best to just start. If there’s one debt really weighing on you emotionally, tackle that first!
Discuss Your Investing Strategy
If you don’t know anything about finances or investing, recognize that you need to increase your financial literacy. Ask for help from a professional, start reading up on personal finance books, and look into educational courses on money and investments that you can take together. You don’t need to be financial experts before you start investing, but you do need to understand the fundamentals so you aren’t throwing your money around blindly. Start by reading this post on How to Get Started with Investing and then following up with Basic Investing Terms You Should Know part one and part two.
Keep Learning Together
The couple that learns about money together stays together! Sure, it sounds a little silly, but communicating and constantly adding to your financial knowledge as a couple goes a long way. Disagreements and misunderstandings about money lead to serious marital stress.
Remember that you and your new spouse are a team and you’re working together towards what you want to achieve in life. It’s up to you to create an ideal, secure retirement for the two of you. No one else is going to take care of your financial needs in the future, so it’s important that you plan ahead and start saving now.
Episode 66: How to Talk Money with Your Spouse with Ericka Young
Talking about money with your spouse can’t always be easy, but it is crucial to your marriage. This week I sat down with Certified Financial Coach, Ericka Young.
Ericka is the president and founder of Tailor-Made Budgets which she opened in 2005 after she and her husband Chris climbed their way out of nearly $100,000 in debt. She became a certified financial coach by Dave Ramsey’s Lampo Group in 2006 and combines her passion for helping people with creative debt reduction techniques so everyone can have a path to financial freedom. Ericka is a recognized financial expert who inspires people to significantly improve their finances, family and their future with a solid plan. Ericka’s Best-Selling book, Naked and Unashamed: 10 Money Conversations Every Couple Must Have was released online in February 2017 worldwide. She currently teaches her message of debt freedom through her e-newsletters, personal and group coaching, workshops and speaking engagements. Ericka, Chris and their two teenage daughters, Faith and Olivia reside in Fishers, IN.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
What prompted Ericka to write a book around finances among couples
Why Ericka believes money is not all about the numbers
The importance of WHY you do what you do with your money
Your financial planner deals with the same money challenges you do
What can happen if you don’t talk about money within your marriage
How Ericka had to understand her husband’s money background during their money conversations
The very first money conversation you should have with your spouse
Why everyone needs a reality check
Understanding your cash flow can be very eye opening
Hurdles many people face when talking about money with spouses
Should one person take the lead on budgeting
The impact a weekly routine can have on your money
The harsh reality of what not talking about money can do to your marriage