Listen to this series via our Date Smart podcast. Episodes are released weekly!
I grew up without a clue about how finances work. My school didn’t teach me. My parents didn’t teach me. And it wasn’t until the ripe age of 34 that I peaked behind the blinders into the world of personal finance and realized two things: #1 Money is one of the most important things you can master, and #2 I had no clue how to do it. The more I talked to people and began learning about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t alone in my financial ignorance. It turns out that 60% of Americans aren’t saving for retirement, and 50% don’t even have a savings account.
I knew I didn’t want to become part of the majority. So, I decided to read a book. First I read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and implemented his 6-week plan.
Week 1: I called my CC company and told them kindly that I had been a loyal client since 2010 and asked them to waive annual fees and service charges, to which they responded, “Yes, of course, Ms. Wade. We can also upgrade your card so that you have more benefits, such as cashback and airline points.” All I could think was, “WHAT! WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS YEARS AGO!”
Week 2: I switched my bank to Charles Schwab and opened an Investor Checking Account. I also opened a Capital One 360 Savings Account. I left two months' living expenses in my checking and funded my savings with the rest. Bada-beem-bada-boom.
Week 3: I opened a Roth IRA retirement account and maxed it out.
Week 4: I created a conscious spending plan.
Week 5: I linked all of my accounts and set up automatic payments so I would not have to worry about a damn thing.
Week 6: I did a deep dive into investing and learned all about asset allocation including stocks, bonds, mutual, index, and target funds, and picked up the quote, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” I also learned all about the “FI” movement which stands for “Financial Independence" which means you have earned enough that your investments will pay for your life in perpetuity. It’s a huge movement, google it.
I felt good knowing I had somewhat of a plan. But then, 1 year later, something else happened. My good friend Lisa recommended that I read a book called The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T Harv Eker. If I was just peaking behind the blinders before, this book was like someone had ripped the blinders off and threw me out the window. I realized I had only scratched the surface of this whole thing called money, and there was something WAY more important than just knowing my numbers: my money psychology. I started questioning everything: my beliefs, my values, my lifestyle, and how money affected my personal relationships, including my relationship with my long-term boyfriend Diego. I have to say I’M SORRY to Diego for not just slowly trying to get him on board with this whole new topic that I was obviously becoming more obsessed with by the minute, but rather pulling him into the vortex with me with full force.
I realized that our financial mindset might be the most important foundation for a relationship because it influences everything that we do, including the way we view and talk to ourselves and others, what we think is or isn’t possible in life, our hopes and fears, our lifestyle, our goals and pursuits, how we'll raise our children, what we pass onto our children, and so on and so forth. Our money psychology is inextricably interwoven into our daily lives.
It turns out that we all have a “financial blueprint,” that is, we all have our own money psychology that affects our ways of thinking and behaving. This blueprint is created and molded in our childhood and is influenced by our family and environment. Two things can happen when creating your blueprint as a child. You see a habit or pattern and you mimic that behavior and adopt it as your own, or you see a habit or pattern and you reject that behavior because you don’t agree with it. And for the truly self-aware, you see a habit and pattern, recognize how it has affected your life, and choose your own path (but more on this later).
For example, my mother grew up believing that men should pay for everything — they should be the breadwinners, the providers. Therefore, when she met my father, she expected him to fill that role. Sidebar: My mom was born in the 50s when society advocated a marital dynamic of the male breadwinner and the housewife, and the media suggested that women greet their husbands at the door at the end of the day, looking lovely, with a cocktail in her hand for her hardworking man. This conversation about who makes and manages money was almost nonexistent. (End of sidebar). Growing up, my father seemed to have a more nonchalant approach to finance. There was a relaxed atmosphere in the house that gave me the impression that money was not a priority. Soon I realized that between his musician lifestyle and my mom’s “leave the finances to the man” approach, it was a recipe for disaster and eventually led to their marital demise.
I rejected my dad’s ways of being and created the belief that money should be openly discussed and managed. I rejected my mom’s ways of being also, but not immediately. Her beliefs around gender roles and money were deeply embedded into me for a very long time. Growing up, I believed that men should be the providers, the ones who handle the finances. I would even tell myself the same story, “I’m old-fashioned. I like to feel like the man is taking care of me.” And granted, while I still very much love a gentleman who will treat me to nice dinners, that is not the dynamic I want in my relationship. I want an equal, a co-creator to navigate life and money together, not separately. Furthermore, I saw how a lack of money puts stress on a marriage, and I said to myself, I want money to always be abundant in my relationship. Rather than mimic my parents' patterns, I rejected them and created my own blueprint or belief system.
I also realized that I never spoke about money with my partners which stems from the fact that it was a major taboo topic in my household. Money discussions were always avoided because it was a point of stress or conflict. I knew I wanted to change this pattern that I had adopted from my parents. I wanted the topic of money to be a point of freedom and happiness. I wanted money to help me and my partner grow as a couple, not tear us apart. And so I got to work on transforming my money psychology and learning how to create a different kind of relationship than what I saw between my parents.
The more I researched, the more I realized my parents' divorce over money was very common. 57% of divorced couples cite money as the primary reason for divorce and 40% of couples don’t even talk about money before marriage! Going a little deeper, it turns out that most arguments around money have nothing to do with the numbers themselves, and everything to do with the psychology behind money, that is, how they were raised to think about money. And that is exactly what we're exploring in this podcast. We'll discover our own money mindset, how to understand your date's (or partner's) money mindset, and how to reconcile opposing perspectives around money so you can get on the same page and become co-creators of your lives.
Keep in mind, this podcast is for singles and couples alike. I wish I had this information before I started dating because I would have known which questions to ask and what to look for along my dating journey. I will say I lucked out though because, as I’m just now learning, my partner Diego has a solid money head on his shoulders. We just began having these conversations around money, and at times we fail miserably and it ends in tears, and other times we get it right (yay us!) and those conversations become some of my favorite and most rewarding memories. I am so thankful that we have the tools to explore these conversations together at an extremely important time in our lives, when we’re faced with important decisions such as the wedding, getting a prenup, buying a home, growing our businesses as two entrepreneurs, and what kind of lifestyle we want to build together.
This podcast takes a very practical, strategic approach and includes questions and exercises you can implement into your own dating lives. I'm also happy to announce that two good friends of mine will be accompanying me throughout this podcast series. Katie and Alan Donegan are the founders of Rebel Finance School and have been featured in prominent publications such as Forbes, The Guardian, The Times, PBS, and more. Retiring at ages 35 and 40, the English couple is known around the world for helping people master their finances and reach financial independence, and their Rebel Finance School has featured some really cool guests such as JL Collins and Mr. Money Mustache who was recently featured on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Alan is also the cofounder of Rebel Business School which changes the way entrepreneurship is taught around the world. I highly recommend taking their free 10-week financial course at rebelfinanceschool.com where they’ll help you create a plan to invest and retire on your own terms. I swear, this stuff should be required in school. In this podcast series, they’ll discuss things they’ve never discussed publicly before, such as how they navigated the sometimes very messy and complicated world of money together in the early stages of their relationship. Trust me, their advice is invaluable.
Don’t become a statistic, let’s figure this money thing out together.
Listen to this series via the Date Smart podcast. Episodes are released weekly!
The Date Smart podcast is hosted by Ambiance Matchmaking’s cofounder Taylor Wade. Twenty years ago, Taylor cofounded Ambiance Matchmaking, an exclusive matchmaking agency that has helped over 100,000 singles master their dating lives. In this podcast, she shares the same tactics and techniques with you. Mastering your dating life is easier than you think –– it’s just a matter of science and a little know-how.