Quick puff pastry recipe and technique
Don't let newlywed bliss prevent you from having thoughtful discussions about money with your partner.
Wedding season is on the way, and lovebirds are getting ready for married life. What they aren’t prepping for, though, is money misery—despite research showing that finances cause relationship stress for one in four Canadian couples.
What can newlyweds do to cross the threshold on the right financial foot? Avoid five of the biggest marital money mistakes.
1. Not discussing goals
If one partner is saving for a family, and the other is on a spending spree thinking parenthood is a long way off, that creates a lot of friction, says Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner, chartered investment manager and founder of the New School of Finance in Toronto. “Couples need to make sure they’re on the same page about their goals—and the time horizons for achieving them.” Once those “pillow-talk plans” are agreed upon, couples can look at their earnings and spending to make sure they can save enough money to make their goals happen.
2. Ignoring income
Partners often neglect to tell each other exactly how much they earn, and then simply split household expenses down the middle. But if one has a ton of discretionary income while the other earns less and goes into debt trying to keep up, both of them are hurt. “Couples need a financial arrangement that is equitable—for example, contributing to expenses based on a percentage of their income—instead of equal,” says Simmons. “These are the things that breed the most guilt, stress and fights.”
3. Becoming house poor
When couples overspend on a home, it leaves little funding for other priorities. “One of my clients cries every time it rains because she can’t afford to fix the leak in her house,” says Simmons. Similarly, couples who buy a house based on two incomes can dig themselves into a financial hole if they immediately have a family. “If you can barely afford your home and then you decide to have a couple of kids, there’s a seven-year period where it’s a financial nightmare between the mat leave and huge daycare bill,” she says. “A baby doesn’t care if you rent until you save more.”
4. Judging your partner’s spending
If you’ve been characterized as being bad with money, it can lead to shame and “secret” spending, says Simmons. So, for example, a yoga enthusiast might hide a Lululemon outfit, and a garage-band musician may have a hidden stash of instruments or equipment. “You don’t want to let your partner down, so you lie,” she says. “But what’s the bigger issue here—that you hid your spending or that your partner doesn’t care about your hobby? Couples need to consider the emotional return on investment.”
5. Not being a part of the financial team
Every couple has its own division of labour, so it’s fine for one partner to be the household’s “quarterback” on money matters. But the other still has to be on the team and in on the play, says Simmons. Say one partner is the AV guru and the other doesn’t know anything about the home-entertainment system. If the tech-master isn’t around, there will be no binge-watching. “Now imagine that feeling of uselessness if you didn’t know what to do with your finances? These are big stakes, so keeping yourself involved is super important.”
Wondering how to start the conversation? Here are Gail Vaz-Oxlade's tips for talking about money with your partner.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn Credits: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn
At her baby shower two years ago, Jessica Stewart received three mini motorcycle jackets and a tiny pair of jewel-encrusted high top sneakers. “They were super cute gifts given to me by well-meaning friends without kids, and they were totally impractical, “ Jessica recalls. “My older sister, who had a two year old, was the one who gave me the best baby gift. It was a bag full of the essentials: newborn diapers and diaper rash cream, a set of bottles, baby nail clippers, a pack of soothers and some stretch mark cream. It was what my baby and I really needed and we used every item within the first two weeks.”
Jessica now makes it her mission to give practical, smart baby gifts to all of her friends. “Before I had a kid, I thought that those hand-knit, artisan, one of a kind sweaters were a great gift. I’m a bit embarrassed about those now that I know how silly it is to pull itchy wool over a newborn’s head.”
Jessica’s go-to shower gift is a homemade keepsakes box filled with baby must-haves: baby lotion, bottles and a nipple variety pack, soothers and a receiving blanket. “The items are all things a new baby needs and the box can be kept to store mementos from the first year, like the newborn cap from the hospital, the ankle bracelet, first pictures, that home-from-the-hospital outfit and more. My mom friends tell me consistently that this is the best gift they received at their shower.”
The next time you receive a baby shower invite or need a gift for a newborn, consider those essentials that baby really needs. Research from PlaytexBaby™ shows that close to two-thirds of new moms receive an impractical gift, while the items that new moms say they really want include diapers, onesies, books, toys and bottles. Moms also say that they love gift cards, so if you are unsure of what to get, a baby store gift card is always a good option.
From September 30 to October 31, PlaytexBaby™ and Babies “R” Us® are making gift-giving easier. With every $40 purchase, before tax, of PlaytexBaby™ essentials, you will receive a bonus $10 gift card.* You can add the gift card to your baby gift to help out mom even more, or keep it for your next purchase. To learn more about this offer click here.
*Excluding all Playtex® Diaper Genie Products®. Program valid from September 30 to October 31, 2016 in store and online. Conditions apply.
Double-Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Credits: Double-Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson