Falling in love is a beautiful, life-changing experience. And when you decide to share your life with someone, there will be fun, laughter and romance, but there will also be practical responsibilities. Whenever you make the decision to become a couple, you’re signing on to navigate all of life’s ups and downs as a team — this includes financial decisions. What are your money goals, as a couple? How will you work to achieve them together? How can you make smart decisions and risks you’re both comfortable taking? How do you celebrate the wins together — and make it through the losses in a positive place?
To find answers to these questions, there’s perhaps no better resource to learn from than couples themselves. We checked in with happy couples to get their thoughts and advice on everything from investing to cutting out debt, and we hope their stories of success will inspire you.
“Trust your partner’s confidence.”
In August 2018, Staci Brinkman and her husband, Øivind Loe, invested $20,000 to finish a storage space underneath their house. The reason? To scale their business, Sips by.They anticipated an increase in orders, but when that didn’t happen, they invested another $60,000 in paid advertising to draw in customers. It worked. “I am so conservative, I wouldn’t have otherwise spent the $20,000, and I definitely would not have spent the $60,000,” Brinkman shared. “It was a decision we reached mutually — with me terrified and my husband cheering us/the business on. Having his enthusiastic support definitely tipped me over to the ‘let’s do it’ side of the fence.”
“Take the risk.”
In 2008, Nicola and James Stephenson bought their own office space in the Soho neighborhood of London. At the time, they owned a marketing company, but had been renting the space. Eager to have their own slice of real estate, a friend who owned a commercial building made them an offer they couldn’t resist: if they could meet the asking price, it would be theirs. Their parents helped them with the deposit, and they were able to score a beautiful townhouse in the heart of the city. What they couldn’t have predicted was what would hit the following year: a recession.
Luckily, they were able to ride it out by subletting the building as their company, oHHo, expanded. They also converted the top floor into their apartment. It met their needs, helped them grow financially (and as a couple), and by the time they sold it in 2013, it had appreciated significantly.
“Property investment can be quite risky, and although there were times during the recession when we felt exposed, it was certainly a high risk, high reward,” Nicola shared. “Ultimately, it enabled us to generate some great cash flow to then launch our company properly in the United States.”
Saving money may seem like a small financial decision, but it will pay off in the long run if you keep it up. Jordan Kentris, the founder and creative director of A Good Day and his partner Greg decided early into their relationship to stow away a percentage of their paychecks each cycle into retirement accounts.
“We set aside 2% of our earnings each pay period automatically into our dedicated savings account, which then gets invested in low-risk mutual funds for sustained growth,” Kentris shared. “Through the years, we’ve been able to set aside a good foundation that will grow for the next 30+ years as we continue to earn in our careers.”
“Get through your debt ASAP.”
Matt Campbell, founder of My Wedding Songs, and his wife, Sharon, chose never to live paycheck to paycheck. As Matt put it, they wanted to have enough money to enjoy their lives and pay their bills without stress. So, seven years into buying their home, they decided to refinance their house to get the equity out of the house and into their hands.
Even though they then had a higher mortgage payment, they also had more money in their pockets. Then, they had to be super-strict with self-control.
“We didn’t take an expensive trip, work on a home remodel project, or buy items for our home with the money,” Matt says. “Instead, we paid off all of our debt, including credit cards, both of our car loans, and any other outstanding obligations. This left us with only our normal living expenses and a house payment. It allowed us to set money aside for a rainy day and manage our money on things that were important to us.”
“Trust your financial planning.”
If you ask Elise Armitage, writer of lifestyle blog, What The Fab, the best decision she made with her partner Omied was buying their first home at the beginning of the pandemic. It was April of 2020, which gave them a bit of wiggle and negotiating room that would soon be gone as the real estate market skyrocketed. The timing was perfect.
The choice was tough, since both Elise and Omied are entrepreneurs and business owners, and their financial security was uncertain at the time. “I was losing sponsored brand campaigns left and right, and Omied’s business was slowing down as well,” Elise shared. “But, we did a lot of financial planning, looking at our current financial situation, and mapping out worst-case scenarios, and ultimately decided to take the plunge and make the investment into our first house. We’re so glad we made that decision because if we waited even just a couple more months, we wouldn’t have gotten the same deal.”
“Life will surprise you.”
After reading ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ Sarah and Nicholas Karakaian were eager to stop paying rent and own a place of their own. At the time, they lived in Astoria, Queens, and Sarah noticed a home for sale while walking their dog. It was a unique property, with a rare front yard in New York City, and a basement.
Sarah’s mind immediately went to opportunities to rent out the basement to help offset their mortgage payment. At the time, Sarah was an actor who worked at luxury hotels between gigs, and Nicholas was a space planner in Manhattan. So, after many discussions and lots of research, they were able to make an offer with just 3% down.
“We got to work making the basement its own studio apartment. It already had a full-size door leading into the space — but it also had a half bathroom and a decent amount of living space. However, the ceilings were low, and we needed to add a shower,” Sarah shared. “Super determined, we dug the floor out to make for higher ceilings, and we added a huge shower to the bathroom.”
At first, they had friends rent out the space for market rent, but eventually they discovered Airbnb. “A few weeks later, the studio space was fully decorated and guest-ready. We not only covered our entire mortgage with the income we made off of guest stays, but we even cash flowed,” she added.
Four years later, they sold the home as a functional Airbnb business, which added tremendous value to the sale. “Not only did we make money on the home while living there, but we also doubled its value in the four years we lived there. We took the cash we made and purchased a fourplex and single-family home in the midwest to maximize our buying power and our monthly cash flow,” she continued. “That little house in Astoria changed our lives and our outlook on investing. We were hooked! We’re now full-time investors in short-term rentals, and we’re having a blast all while growing our long-term wealth.”
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