Spenders and Savers: Building Financial Harmony as a Couple

Money can be a major source of stress, especially for couples with different spending habits. But fear not, spenders and savers can achieve financial harmony with open communication, compromise, and a team approach!

Communication is Key:

  • Talk openly about your goals: Dream vacations, a new house, or a comfortable retirement – discuss your individual goals and find common ground. These shared dreams will be the foundation of your financial plan. Remember, you’re a team, so work together! This builds a stronger foundation for your future.
  • Understand each other’s “why”: Instead of labels like “spender” or “saver,” have honest conversations about the reasons behind your financial behaviors. Explore any anxieties, hopes, or past experiences that shape your views on money. Sharing these creates context and fosters empathy.

Planning for Your Future:

  • Budgeting Together: Create a realistic budget that reflects your income, expenses, savings goals, and some fun money! Budgeting apps can simplify this process. Take time to find one that works for both of you – it’s an investment in your future, together.
  • Saving and Spending: Allocate specific amounts for both short- and long-term goals, like an emergency fund or retirement. Don’t forget to include fun – a vacation fund or a “splurge” category – ensuring both security and enjoyment. Consider separate accounts for different purposes if that helps with organization.
  • Set Spending Limits: If impulse buying is a concern, agree on spending limits for specific categories. Consider using cash for non-essential purchases – we tend to spend less with cash than cards!

Compromise and Flexibility:

  • Be Flexible: There will be times when adjustments are needed. Be open to compromise, finding solutions that work for both. Recognize that needs may differ, and adjustments might be temporary. After all, delayed gratification helps achieve bigger goals!
  • Celebrate Your Wins!: Acknowledge and celebrate progress towards your goals together. This keeps you motivated and strengthens your commitment to building a secure financial future.

Additional Tips:

  • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular reviews of your budget and goals. Treat it like an important meeting – even 20 minutes a week can make a difference!
  • Seek Help if Needed: If managing finances feels overwhelming, consider seeking guidance from a financial advisor or counselor (like Parachute!) They can provide personalized advice and help you create a sustainable plan.
  • Communication is Key: Throughout the process, maintain open and honest communication about finances. Remember, building a healthy financial relationship requires teamwork and understanding.

By following these tips and fostering a supportive environment, spender-saver couples can navigate financial challenges, achieve their goals, and build a bright future together.

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching  or call 716-712-2060.

Top 10 Money Myths

There are a surprising number of myths surrounding money and how to manage it. These myths can hold people back from achieving financial wellness, which contributes to our overall well-being. Here are some of the most popular myths and the truths behind them:

Myth #1: More money = more happiness

Truth: While money can certainly provide security and comfort, research shows that beyond a certain point, it has little impact on happiness. True happiness comes from meaningful relationships, good health, and personal growth, not just the size of your bank account. Various studies show that most people feel most satisfied making about $75K+ worldwide. However, happiness is influenced by multiple factors beyond income. Strong relationships, meaningful work, good health, and personal growth all contribute to overall well-being. The “ideal” income for happiness may increase over time. Inflation and rising costs of living can shift the threshold for financial satisfaction.

Myth #2: You need a high income to build wealth

Truth: Building wealth is more about smart habits and financial discipline than having a high income. Living below your means, saving consistently, and investing wisely can help anyone build wealth over time, regardless of their income level.

Myth #3: All debt is bad

Truth: Not all debt is created equal. Good debt, like a mortgage or student loan, can be an investment in your future and help you achieve financial goals. Bad debt, like high-interest credit card debt, can drag you down and hinder your progress.

Myth #4: Investing is risky and only for the rich

Truth: Investing can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be risky or exclusive. There are many low-risk investment options available, and starting small and diversifying your portfolio can help mitigate risk. Anyone can benefit from the power of compound interest and grow their wealth through investing.

Myth #5: You should wait until retirement to save for retirement

Truth: The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. Time is your best friend when it comes to compounding interest, so starting early even with small contributions can make a big difference in the long run. You may not be physically able to work in your later years and may need retirement income for 30+ years given overall life expectancies and your family history.

Myth #6: Budgeting is boring and restrictive

Truth: Budgeting can actually be empowering and freeing. It gives you control over your finances and allows you to make conscious choices about where your money goes. There are many budgeting methods available to find one that fits your lifestyle and preferences.

Myth #7: Talking about money is taboo

Truth: Open communication about finances is crucial for healthy relationships and financial well-being. Talking openly and honestly about money with partners, family, and friends can help you make informed decisions and support each other in your financial goals.

Myth #8: You need a perfect credit score.

Truth: While a good score is beneficial, it’s not everything. Building and maintaining good credit habits is more important than reaching a perfect score. Strong but not perfect scores can help you obtain more credit at lower interest rates.

Myth #9: Saving for a house is always the best investment.

Truth: Consider your needs, lifestyle preferences and goals. While homeownership can be rewarding, it also involves significant expenses and risks. Analyze other investment options as well before deciding to commit to a home.

Myth #10: You can always find “get rich quick” schemes.

Truth: Sustainable wealth building takes time and effort. Be wary of quick-fix solutions promising instant riches. Focus on consistent, responsible financial habits over the long term. Consistent habits over time have a large pay off. 

By debunking these myths and understanding the truth about money, you can make informed decisions and take charge of your financial future. Remember, financial well-being is a journey, not a destination. It’s about building healthy habits, making smart choices, and continuously learning and adapting.

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching  or call 716-712-2060.

Financial Topics for Teens

If you are a teen or (have a teenager in your life), the following tips will be useful in establishing sound money practices early in life leading to stronger financial stability over time. 

Bank accounts and debit cards: Teens should learn how to open a bank account, deposit and withdraw money, and use a debit card. They should also read about and understand the fees associated with these services.

Budgeting: Teens can start learning to budget by tracking their income and expenses. This will help them see where their money is going and make sure they’re not spending more than they earn.

Saving: Teens should start saving early, even if it’s just a small amount each month. The more time saving, the more compounding interest has to work. There are many ways to save, such as putting money in a savings account, buying a savings bond, or investing in a mutual fund.

Credit: Teens should learn about establishing credit and how to use it responsibly. This includes understanding how to build a good credit score and how to avoid debt problems.

College planning: If they plan to pursue higher education, teens need to start thinking about college early, including how they will pay for it. They should research different financial aid options and start saving for college as soon as possible.

Getting a job: Teens can start earning money by getting a part-time job. This is a great way to learn about responsibility, money management and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Starting a business: Some teens are interested in starting their own businesses. This can be a great way to learn about entrepreneurship and make money. However, it’s important to do your research and create a business plan before getting started.

Investing: Teens can start investing early, even with a small amount of money. There are many different investment options available, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It’s important to talk to a financial advisor before investing to make sure you understand the risks involved.

There are many resources available to help teens learn about financial topics. They can talk to their parents, teachers, or a financial advisor. They can also find information online and in books and magazines.

Here are some additional tips for teens:

Talk to your parents. Your parents may be a great resource for learning about financial topics. They can teach you about their own experiences and help you make sound financial decisions.

Do your research. There is a lot of information available about financial topics. Take some time to read books, articles, listen to podcasts and search websites to learn as much as you can.

Start early. The earlier you start learning about financial topics, the better prepared you will be for the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have any questions about financial topics, don’t be afraid to ask your parents, other family members, teachers, or a financial advisor for help.

By learning about financial topics and making smart financial decisions early on, teens can set themselves up for financial success in the future.

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching  or call 716-712-2060.

Money and Relationships

Money can be a major source of stress and conflict in any relationship and often is quoted as the top reason for break-ups and divorces. Therefore, it is especially important to manage it carefully in romantic partnerships. Here are a few tips for managing money and relationships.

Communicate openly and honestly about your finances. This includes sharing your income, debts, and spending habits. It’s important to be upfront with each other about your spending habits and financial situation so that you can make decisions together and find ways to strengthen your financial future as a team. It can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing to share some aspects of our financial lives, but it will ultimately help empower you both to establish good money habits.   

Create a monthly spending plan (budget) and stick to it. This will help you track your income and expenses so that you can make sure you’re living within your means. There are many different budgeting methods available, so find one that works for you and your partner. You could even try a blend of methods to help you reach those goals! Sound spending plans are the foundation for establishing financial stability and wealth building.

Set financial goals together as a united front. Do you want to buy a house? Save for retirement? Pay off debt? Once you know what your goals are, you can start working towards them together and potentially reach them faster. Place the goals in writing somewhere you will both see them regularly (e.g., on a mirror or refrigerator, on your cell phones).

Don’t make major financial decisions without consulting your partner. This includes things like buying a car, taking out a loan, or making a large purchase. Talking about these decisions before you make them can help to avoid conflict later. Think about if your partner made a major financial decision without consulting you and how you might feel. Remember the team approach.

Be respectful of each other’s spending habits. Even if you don’t agree with how your partner spends their money, it’s important to be respectful of their choices. If you’re concerned about their spending, talk to them about it in a calm and constructive way that stays centered on your shared goals.   

Couple discussing money

Don’t let money problems come between you. If you’re having financial problems, it’s important to work together to solve them. Don’t blame each other or let your problems fester over time. Take action to address the issue before it gets bigger.

Seek professional help if you need it. If you’re struggling to manage your finances or communicate about money with your partner, a financial advisor, financial social worker, or a therapist can help.

Money can be a difficult and emotional topic to talk about as people most often feel a range of emotions such as fear and shame, but it’s important to have open and honest communication about your finances in order to maintain a healthy relationship. By following these tips, you can help to avoid conflict and build a strong financial foundation for your future together and also serve as an effective financial role model for your children.

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching  or call 716-712-2060

Latest News: January 2024 Financial Update

Governor Hochul introduces legislation to protect New Yorkers from “bad actors” and medical debt;

New report highlights significant issues with student loan repayment after an unprecedented 3 year period

Parachute Credit Counseling Offers FREE Assistance and Counseling

Parachute Credit Counseling, formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS), is the Western New York region’s premier organization providing our community with the best strategies to master their credit. Today they announce a number of notable financial news items emerging this month. Along with these new items, Parachute reminds residents that beginning the new year with a financial “check up” is an invaluable service to their families and themselves.

Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for more information.

The State of Student Loans

On October 1st, Americans resumed paying their student loans, after a 3 and a half year break in payments. Financial experts predicted issues with payments after such a long period, stating that about 20% of student loan borrowers had risk factors that indicated they could struggle when payments resume. These issues have been worse than predicted, confirmed when the Department of Education announced in December that nearly 9 million borrowers–roughly 40% of the 22 million borrowers who had bills due in October–missed their first student loan payment.

Outstanding student loan debt presently exceeds outstanding auto loan debt and credit card debt.

Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the federal government agency that ensures that consumers are treated fairly by banks, lenders, and other financial companiesissued a report  on the agency’s monitoring activities of federal student loan servicers since the restart of required payments. Per the CFPB, many borrowers are making their first payment ever on their student loan, and many are also navigating their loan repayment options, including options that allow borrowers to make lower payments based on a percentage of their income. The report discusses challenges faced by borrowers with respect to contacting their servicer, enrolling in alternative repayment options, and billing statement errors. According to borrowers, there have been many problems navigating loan repayment since restarting on October 1st.

The CFPB pledges to work on this situation and to continue to carefully watch loan servicers and work with federal and state agencies to hold accountable those that violate laws protecting borrowers. The CFPB also has resources for student loan borrowers needing more information. Borrowers can also visit the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website for more information on restarting student loan payments. In addition, consumers can submit complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Parachute Credit Counseling recommends that borrowers contact their office to enroll in their free Student Loan Counseling program, available to all residents of the eight counties of Western New York. Parachute’s Certified Financial Counselors will help WNY residents consolidate their student loans and review other potential relief options and changes to existing programs available to help borrowers reduce or eliminate their debt as well as assist them in making payment plans. Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for more information on our Student Loan Counseling Program and other financial counseling services we provide.

Proposed Consumer Protection Legislation

Governor Hochul has proposed a few pieces of new legislation designed to protect New York residents from unfair and negative business practices and from the all too common issue of medical debt.

Governor Hochul introduces consumer protection legislation

“Buy Now Pay Later” loans have become popular as a low-cost alternative to traditional credit products to pay for everyday and big-ticket purchases, but they remain unregulated and can charge hefty fees. Legislation proposed will require “Buy Now Pay Later” providers to get a license to operate in the state, and to authorize the New York State Department of Financial Services to propose and issue regulations for this rapidly growing industry.

The Governor has additionally called for increased protection measures that strengthen the state’s ability to enforce consumer protections and to penalize “bad actors”.

Governor Hochul introduces legislation to protect New Yorkers from medical debt

Medical debt is a critical issue for many, including over 700,000 New York residents who currently have medical debt in collections. Those with medical debt often forego necessary medical care and historically minimize important social determinants of health, including food, heat, and rent. Overall, this threatens the health and financial stability of New Yorkers. The proposed legislation will limit hospitals’ ability to sue patients earning less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($120,000 for a family of four), helping to eliminate medical debt lawsuits filed against low-income New Yorkers. Per the Governor’s office, the legislation would also “expand hospital financial assistance programs for low-income New Yorkers, limit the size of monthly payments and interest charged for medical debt and implement other protections to improve access to financial assistance and mitigate the deleterious effects of medical debt on New Yorkers.”

Regional Bankruptcy Update

Bankruptcy rates up by 2.7%: first year-over-year increase for Buffalo since 2018

The Buffalo News recently reported a rise in bankruptcy filings, based on data from the federal bankruptcy court. According to financial experts at Parachute Credit Counseling, they have been seeing people with higher levels of debt which, coupled with higher interest rates, stagnant wages, and inflation can cause financial stress and instability. Bankruptcy can be attributed to some of these issues.

Parachute Financial Counselors assure the WNY community that, despite some environmental concerns, there are simple, proven techniques to facilitate economic security. Now is the time for borrowers to seek unbiased counseling. Parachute counselors will provide expert strategies for attaining financial stability including any financial assistance needed, from budgeting help to credit education, to buying a home. Call 716-712-2060 or visit https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/  for information on financial counseling services.

Post-Holiday Budget Hacks for the New Year; It’s Never Too Early!  

Post-holiday budget planning is the process of getting your finances back on track after the holiday season. This can be a challenge, especially if you overspent. But, by taking some simple steps, you can get back on the right track and avoid financial stress in the new year. It can take some time to recover financially after the holidays, but consistency can make a huge difference over time. Be patient with the process and regroup for next year!

Additionally, reading this BEFORE the New Year of 2024 rings in can also be super helpful for this year’s holiday season.

Here are some tips for post-holiday budgeting:

Review your spending. The first step is to take a look at your spending and see where your money went during the holidays. This will help you identify areas where you can cut back in the future. You can use a spreadsheet or budgeting app to track your spending.

Pay down debt. If you overspent during the holidays, you may have some credit card debt to pay off. Make a plan to pay down this debt as quickly as possible to avoid high interest charges. Pay more than the minimum payments required, if at all possible. If possible, consider using all or part of any tax returns to pay down this debt.

Revise your budget. Once you have a good understanding of your spending and debt, it’s time to revise your budget. This may involve cutting back on unnecessary expenses or increasing your income, even if on a temporary basis. You may be back on track after a few months! 

Set financial goals. Having financial goals will help you stay motivated. Some common financial goals include saving for a down payment on a house, retirement, or a child’s education. Really be specific with your financial goals to help them materialize. Write out those goals and look at them frequently. 

Create a holiday spending plan for next year. Start thinking about your holiday spending for next year now. This will help you avoid overspending again.

Shop around for the best deals throughout the year. Compare prices at different stores and online before you buy anything. Consider dollar, thrift, and discount/liquidation stores.

Take advantage of sales and coupons. There are always sales, coupons and promo codes available, so be sure to check for them before you buy anything.

Take advantage of post-holiday sales. Many retailers offer discounts on leftover holiday merchandise after the holidays. This is a great time to stock up on items you need or want at a reduced price. Be sure to store them in a place you’ll remember!

Return unwanted gifts. If you received gifts that you don’t want or need, return them for a refund or exchange. This will help you get some your money back and/or buy things you actually need.

Regift items. You can regift items that you do not want or need. Keeping inventory of what gift you received from what person can help this be a successful plan from year to year. 

Sell unwanted gifts or belongings. If you have unwanted gifts or belongings that you can’t return, consider selling them online or at a garage sale. This is a great way to declutter your home and make some extra money.

Cancel unused subscriptions. Take some time to review your subscriptions and cancel any that you’re no longer using. Be honest with yourself about what you are likely to use in the future. This could include magazine subscriptions, streaming services, and gym memberships.

Here are some additional tips:

Automate your finances. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account each month. This will help you reach your financial goals without even having to think about it. Start with a small amount, if needed, and increase it as is feasible for you.

Use cash instead of credit cards. When you use cash, you’re much more likely to be mindful of your spending. People tend to spend less when using cash.

Review your insurance policies. At the beginning of each year, make sure you’re getting the best possible rates on your insurance policies. You may be able to save money by bundling your policies or shopping around for new providers.

Getting back on track financially after the holidays can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources available to help you, and with a little effort, you can get back on track!

If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/

Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching  or call 716-712-2060.