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When we met, my husband and I made a decision that we wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best, but we feel short in one major area: finance. We made a commitment to strive to be our best selves emotionally, physically, professionally, and in our community, yet somehow with all this striving to be our best self we overlooked being our best financially. We had a high debt-to-income ratio, insufficient savings, and no investments or life insurance outside of our work issued policies and retirement accounts. We weren’t prepared for any emergencies and we certainly had no plan for financing major future goals like retirement. One day after a financial “wake up call” – one of those life events that force you to take an honest look at your financial choices – we decided that it was time to become intentional about making changes so that we could become our best financially.
Here are the 3 steps we took:
1. We Faced the Music When my now husband, Sean, and I decided to change our financial habits, we knew it would first require us to be honest with ourselves and one another about how we manage money. For many people, the idea of fully exposing themselves financially to their partner is like walking into work stark naked – it’s a horrifically scary experience. Its bright, nowhere to hide and, frankly, embarrassing. However, we jumped in and were faced with the cold dark truth: if we didn’t change our habits it was going to cost us our future financial security.
2. We Became Intentional About Increasing Our Financial Education Everything you could ever want to know about money has likely already been published somewhere or someone is currently teaching it. We started by signing up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (www.daveramsey.com). That gave us basic tools like how to create a family budget and developed a debt pay down plan using the “snowball” method. With this step we started our journey toward paying off over $12,000 of debt in less than 12 months and improving our credit scores along the way.
3. We Sought Professional Help One of my mentors has a saying “We don’t treat ourselves for cancer, so why would we try to treat ourselves for toxic financial habits?” Finding ourselves in a critical financial state meant we needed professional help as the treatment. We decided to seek the help of a licensed financial professional. This step was vital to us because we wanted to make sure that the choices we were making to improve our financial life had been reviewed by a professional – someone who also could provide insights that we wouldn’t have considered on our own. One of the first insights that our professional pointed out was how vulnerable we were when it came to insurance. Both my husband and I had no life insurance outside of the small amount our employers provided, our disability policies through work would only replace a fraction of our income if we couldn’t work, and we had no retirement account outside of our employers’ (which we barely checked). What if one of us lost our job, couldn’t work or even passed away. How would the other be able maintain financial stability? We had no answers for those questions and that was a horse sized pill for us to swallow; however, our financial planner helped us find affordable solutions to address each of our gaps.
Completing this process was by far one of the hardest, yet most rewarding steps my husband and I have taken in our relationship. It brought us closer together. Neither of us were happy with our financial situation and, together, we took the steps to change it. These steps not only improved our current financial circumstances, they also changed our financial destiny.
Today we are in the process of closing on our first home together, and I was even inspired to become a business owner. Today, with the support of my husband, I became a licensed Financial Services Professional with the National Care Financial Group (www.NationalCareFinancial.com), one of America’s fastest growing African American owned financial services firms. It brings me so much joy to know that money is no longer a pain point for my husband and I. It also brings me joy to help others change their financial futures. I love my career and my clients, and I especially love my first and most supportive client, my husband. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.