How to Have Hard Money Conversations

This week, Maggie chats with Sara Rathner, a credit cards and travel expert at NerdWallet. In this episode, they are talking about how to have tough money discussions at home, touching on topics like managing spending, gender bias, and discussing family finances during a crisis.

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Sara Rathner is a credit cards and travel expert at NerdWallet. She’s appeared on the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News” and CNBC’s “Nightly Business Report” and has been quoted in The New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Time, Reuters, NBC News, Business Insider and MarketWatch. Before joining NerdWallet, Sara worked at The Motley Fool for nearly 10 years. She also worked as a freelance personal finance writer and paraplanner and has a bachelor’s in Journalism from Northwestern University.

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


TRANSCRIPTION

Maggie Germano 0:05
Hi, and thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano, and I’m a feminist and a financial writer, speaker, educator and coach for women. I’m passionate about making personal finance less scary and more approachable so that women can improve their relationship with money and take control of their finances. Every other week, I will interview an amazing, inspiring woman to talk about the issues that impact our money, our health, our independence, and more. We will touch on the societal and structural issues that we need to work together to change and the actions that we each have the power to take in our own lives. If you’d like to learn more about me and the work that I do, visit my website at Maggie germano.com or follow me on Instagram at Maggie Germano. Thanks again for listening and I hope you enjoy.

Maggie Germano 0:55
Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Sara Rathner, a credit cards and travel expert at Nerd wallet. In this episode, we’re talking about how to have tough money conversations at home. Touching on topics like managing spending gender bias and discussing family finances during a crisis. If you struggle to have difficult money conversations with your loved ones, this episode is for you. Enjoy.

Maggie Germano 1:29
Okay, welcome, Sara. Thanks so much for being here today.

Sara Rathner 1:32
Thank you for having me.

Maggie Germano 1:34
So why don’t we just start off by having you introduce yourself? Tell us who you are and what it is you do.

Sara Rathner 1:40
I’m Sara Rathner. I’m the traveling credit cards expert at NerdWallet. We’re a website that offers lots of great tips and advice and information about personal finance helps you pick between all sorts of financial tools. So if you’re faced with a big money decision, check out nerdwallet.com.

Maggie Germano 1:58
That’s great. Yeah, no, I love nerd wallet. I have a nerd wallet shirt from a fin con from a while ago.

Sara Rathner 2:04
So as you can imagine, I have a drawer full of NerdWallet shirts at this point. But it’s because I’ve been here for a while.

Maggie Germano 2:11
Yeah, yeah. And how did you find yourself at NerdWallet?

Sara Rathner 2:16
Oh, well, um, I have a journalism degree. But I have been working in sort of the financial worlds and financial technology for most of my career, everything from investing newsletters to financial planning firms, and now NerdWallet, which it’s sort of this like, nice marriage of my writing background, but also my finance background. So I get to write about financial topics, which is really fun for me. I mean, not everybody’s into it, but it’s, I find it intriguing. So somebody has to.

Maggie Germano 2:47
Yeah, yeah, exactly. There has to be someone who can make these topics easy for people to kind of understand and distill it down so that people, you know, get the information they’re actually looking for.

Sara Rathner 2:58
Yeah, these aren’t easy things to talk about. And sometimes, it can get complicated when you’re dealing with like rules and regulations. And like, so many financial tools are heavily influenced or designed around the law, and you know, tax law and things like that. And so they can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. That’s why it’s important to be able to find helpful resources. So when you’re trying to wrap your head around something you don’t people are afraid of making the wrong decision. So it helps to have information.

Maggie Germano 3:32
Yeah, it makes it it makes it easier to actually make a decision and maybe feel a little less paralyzed in making a decision. Because it’s not like I mean, there’s tons of information out there. But when you’re going to a place where things are kind of, you know, summarized in a really easy to understand way, it can make it a lot easier to know you’re making the right choice.

Sara Rathner 3:53
Yeah, and you definitely want to I mean, you want to give yourself the time to do some research. But at the same time, if you take forever to make a decision time is money. So you’re losing out, like, for example, the decision to open up a retirement account, you know, okay, give yourself like, you know, three months or so to think it over. But if you wait years to get started, you’re missing out on all this time to build your nest egg, especially when you’re young and you’re first getting started. The longer you wait to do things like that, the more you have to catch up later on. And that’s really difficult.

Maggie Germano 4:28
Yeah, absolutely. And the inertia of not getting started can kind of just go on forever. And it’s like every day all I need to do that, oh, I need to do that. And then before you know it, you’re kind of 10 years behind.

Sara Rathner 4:41
Yeah, 10 years goes by pretty quickly. So don’t wait to check off these items on your to do list.

Maggie Germano 4:49
Yeah, agreed. So I know that you are a travel and credit cards expert over at Nerd wallet but the topic that we’re talking about today is having difficult money conversation. which is one of my favorite topics, obviously, like you, I also like talking about and writing about money. So having difficult money conversations, it can be still tough for me, but like, I’m eager to honestly have them sometimes. But obviously, that is not the case for most people. So why do you think it’s so important to be having difficult financial conversations?

Sara Rathner 5:23
Well, because like I said, people are afraid of making the wrong decision. And so when you bury your head in the sand, and avoid having tough Money Talks, whether it’s with like, the roommate, who never pays their share of the bills on time, or your spouse, or your partner, family members or friends who are asking to borrow money from you, but they still owe you money from the last time they borrowed money from you. There’s so many things that crop up about interpersonal relationships when it comes to money. And it makes a lot of people really, really uncomfortable. But you kind of have to push against that discomfort, because if you don’t talk about these things, you are going to make those money mistakes, and you’re going to feel a lot of resentment toward people that you care about.

Maggie Germano 6:10
Yeah, that’s a big one, the resentment piece where you know, you’d rather avoid the conversation because it’s uncomfortable, you don’t want to make somebody else feel uncomfortable, you want to like avoid a fight. But even if you’re technically avoiding the fight, you are probably getting frustrated, like you mentioned, a roommate not paying the rent, or being late with the rent, or maybe not paying their part of the utility bill or whatever it might be, or a family member, that can really impact the relationship. Even if you’re not having that combat, like overt conflict.

Sara Rathner 6:46
Yeah, here’s the thing, you’re not avoiding the fight, you’re delaying the fight, you’re gonna have the fight. And it’s gonna be worse than it might have been had, you talked about things earlier, in a moment where you were, you weren’t as frustrated yet, so you could speak more calmly and state your case, and hopefully come to some sort of compromise, instead of just blowing up at each other. So the thing is, by not talking about these things, they don’t go away.

Maggie Germano 7:15
Yeah, agreed, um, it’s kind of like burying your head in the sand about your finances, overall, it doesn’t make your problems, your money problems go away, it just kind of makes them bigger, or just kicks it down the road, and then you have to have it blow up in your face.

Sara Rathner 7:32
Yeah, you’re gonna have to deal with money stuff, eventually. It’s, it’s impossible not to I mean, money is threaded through basically everything we do. And it really does affect our personal relationships. You know, people always say these, you know, money can’t buy me love and money doesn’t, you know, bring you happiness and all these other tropes. Money doesn’t buy love. And I mean, studies show that actually a certain level of money actually brings you up to a certain level of happiness. So a lot of happiness does come from knowing that you can keep the roof over your head and food on your table, and you can do the things that you need to do and some of the things you want to do. So I don’t really buy into the whole, like, money can’t buy you happiness thing. Because I mean, if you’ve never thrown money at a problem had that problem go away, you don’t understand how well money can work to bring you some happiness. So it is a it is a helpful tool in that regard. And so to ignore the importance of money in your life, and in the life that you share with other people. I mean, you’re just kidding yourself, it is there, whether you want to believe it or not.

Maggie Germano 8:39
Right, like money touches every aspect of our lives. And like you said, whether we like it or not, and even if you know, you’re not someone who prioritizes finances or wants to make lots of money or have lots of money, like you said, how much money you have is gonna impact where you live, what kind of lifestyle you’re able to afford, the stress that you have, like being able to get around in a car versus a bus. And like I was my sister’s, a pediatric nurse, she works at a clinic in the city here. And she was talking about how whenever it’s a really rainy day, a lot of patients are no shows. And I was saying it’s probably because a lot of the patients probably don’t have their own cars, and they have to navigate public transit with their kids going to the doctor’s appointment and how stressful frustrating and expensive that can get and you know, even trying to work out like a cat or something like that, like maybe there isn’t the money for that in the budget that week or that day. And so even just like those kinds of things that people don’t think about money impacts everything that you’re actually able to do.

Sara Rathner 9:47
Yeah, I mean, when it comes to things like that, like not having access to transportation that sort of sort of calls to another bizarre passion of mine, which is urban planning, which is not a field I work in but a lot of things about money so I think we’re seeing this lately with A pandemic just stems with to a lot of larger societal issues too, like not having good public transit in a lot of metropolitan areas in this country. And so yeah, there, there is a certain frustration that comes from kind of having to make up for that with your own resources. You know, look at like childcare and what happened with, you know, especially women leaving work during the pandemic, because there’s just not this adequate safety net for parents who are working and have young children who are not in school yet. And it’s, um, it, I think it laid bare a lot of things that people are struggling with. And these are a lots of fights that people have within their household to just managing, like, the resources of the household. You know, like my husband, and I share one car. So whenever one of us needs it for something, it’s a conversation, hey, I have a doctor’s appointment. Can I you know, was there a reason you needed the car at this time today? Or can I take it? You know, and that’s a conversation that has to happen whenever something goes counter to our usual schedule. And a lot of families are kind of dealing with that right now. Pay, the kid needs to go to the pediatrician or they have a fever and daycare called somebody needs to pick them up early. Or, you know, this extra bill is due, what are we going to do about that? We’re down to one income. A lot of families are dealing with conversations that they might not have had to have had two years ago, and it’s been really hard for people.

Maggie Germano 11:38
Yeah, absolutely. And so what are you seeing as some of the consequences of avoiding those conversations, like obviously, some people can’t avoid them when it’s like an emergency situation, but a lot of people probably still want to skirt around that. So what are the some of the consequences you see of that?

Sara Rathner 11:56
Oh, resentment within, especially within couples, but you also see resentment among like, roommates, who, you know, one person is picking up the slack, when it comes to chores and bills and things like that, or it’s really just within household units, you see this, this resentment and this contempt build up. And that’s really toxic for your relationship. You know, you’re not going to have a good functional, happy, wholesome relationship, if you have in your head that Oh, my partner or my roommate, or my spouse, they never do this, they never do that, I always have to do X, Y, and Z, because they never pick up the slack. And it’s always on me, when you start using that always, and never language that really absolute stuff, it’s kind of a sign that things have gotten pretty intense. And just it’s it’s important to just to recognize, like, everybody’s kind of going through their own thing. So if you approach a situation, the two words I kept coming up when I interviewed therapists, for some of the articles that I’ve written about this is compassion and empathy, which is big understanding where the other person is coming from, why are they struggling to do this things and you have to pick up the slack. Is there something that’s getting in the way that with a conversation and maybe a couple of routine changes you can actually solve, and then also having empathy too, for when another person is going through a difficult time. And I mean, I’ve found just sort of, in my own my own relationship, my own life, it’s a lot better to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand, you know, here’s where they might be struggling. And it’s not that they’re unaware that their struggle affects you too. And that you’re kind of having to do more around the house, because they’re falling short in some way. But just understanding why that’s happening, and giving them this, you know, letting them know that you understand and that you, you know, they’re going through a hard time and that you’re here for them. And I’ve found that the situation getting, you know, gets resolved a lot faster to both people satisfaction, if you give the empathy and the compassion for the other person, instead of yelling at them. You know, getting resentful, using that absolute language, you never do this, I always have to do this because you like never do this stuff around the house. It just tears your household apart to talk that way to look to somebody that you care about. It doesn’t make them feel good. And and the thing is, like in any long term relationship, you’re going to alternate like one of us is going to be going through the hard time and the other person’s going to have to pick up the slack. And if you have this culture of empathy and compassion in your relationship and your household, you’ll just be like, you know, it’s my time to step up. They’re going through a hard time. It’s my turn.

Maggie Germano 14:48
Yeah, I really love that idea where it’s like, uh, I mean, obviously, relationships are given take, often, you know, not everyone can give all the time and not everyone be taking all the time, you have to kind of be trading off depending on who’s going through what. But I feel like a lot of people probably don’t think about it that way as consciously and so yeah being being really mindful about. And also just like assuming the best in someone that assuming they’re purposefully not paying you back or purposefully, you know, being late with with whatever or missing a bill or whatever it’s going to be or, or if it is, you know, around the house, it could be with any kind of topic, assuming that someone you have a relationship with and that you care about, is meaning the best, you know, and that they’re not like trying to harm you or frustrate you, or whatever, that can be a good kind of mindset shift of like, I’m going to assume that they’re not trying to piss me off. But because that can help obviously, approach the conversation more positively.

Sara Rathner 15:57
Yeah. And I will say empathy and compassion have limits, there are times where the other person in your home is taking advantage of your goodwill is possibly taking advantage of you financially, is not pulling their weight at a time where they could. And that’s a different conversation, you don’t have to just bend over backwards for somebody forever, because you love them. And let them walk all over, you don’t do that, you know, you can, you can start with compassion, but then also get real and say, Hey, like, we both work, but I pay like 80% of the bills, but I only bring in 50% of the income. What’s up with that, like, we need to, we need to renegotiate how we split our expenses, because I’m spending more on household stuff, and you’re spending more on stuff for you. And that’s not fair. And just like lay that, lay those cards out on the table, and if that person is taking advantage of you, then you really need to take more drastic steps to improve your household situation. Because there are people out there who will do things like that. So it’s which is unfortunate. But but but it’s true. And so it’s like have compassion, but have a backbone to.

Maggie Germano 17:16
Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot that, you know, you want to be caring, you want to be kind, you want to be compassionate. But you also like you said, you don’t want to be taken advantage of you don’t want to be the one who’s getting trampled over or who’s having their finances damaged. Because someone else is kind of assuming you’ll you’ll pick up the slack or has gotten comfortable with being the one that’s not pitching in.

Sara Rathner 17:39
Exactly. That’s not helpful for you. And I mean, especially with couples, I’m a big proponent of having some financial autonomy, even though you’re a couple. I mean, everybody has different systems for organizing your money. Some people join everything together completely, some people keep their money 100% separate. I have gone through phases of money 100% separate and then the longer my husband and I were together, the more joint assets we had together like a house, the more our finances have become combined, but we’re both really big proponents of each other and checking account. And we contribute jointly to other accounts that are for shared purposes. But we also maintain the ability to spend money on ourselves provided that our savings goals are met and our bills are paid it proportionally to our incomes. Everything else is like, you know, I don’t need to know like, Okay, you bought a new sweater like I don’t care, you know, you buy yourself new clothes, it’s fine. You know, you’re, we’re not going without groceries because you had an expensive bar tab on a night out with your friends or something like that. So it is nice to have that autonomy because you’re still you and people are coupling up at later ages on average, you’ve had a longer time to be on your own and have complete control over your finances. You don’t want to it’s hard to give that up.

Maggie Germano 19:03
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s something that when I’m working with clients, especially couples, a big struggle is like, you know, I’ve been on my own for a long time. I’ve been independent for a long time. I want to have independence with my money. But like the completely separate approach is not working with like managing the household together. It’s making things too complicated. Everyone’s like transferring money for this and transferring money for that and all that. And I think that I have found in my own marriage and then also just seeing with clients, having that separate checking account that’s like, you can use that for anything you want. You don’t have to check in with each other that’s just for you. And obviously like if most of your expenses are kind of joint and you know, you’re contributing to a lot of things together. Having one thing one account or one you know, pot of money that’s just for you. It really can make you feel more Independent more in control over what you’re doing. And just giving yourself a little bit extra that you don’t have to talk about with your partner, you can just do what you want. I’ve seen that really make an impact.

Sara Rathner 20:13
Yeah, I mean, there’s this philosophy that’s like, if you don’t combine your money completely, it’s like, you’re not fully committed to the relationship. And it’s just like, you know, what, are you covering up for that you need this thing to prove that you’re committed? I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s, you know, why, why can’t you both have something that’s your own within your relationship? And so I think it’s okay, and frankly, like, having some money separate and some money combined, or even your money separate, like you, it forces you to have a lot of money conversations, because you’re moving money around, you’re moving things from from individual to joint for different purposes, or vice versa. And you’re forced to say, Okay, what account? Are we taking this out of? We had to we had to repair the furnace, or we we had to fix the car? What which account? are we pulling this out of who’s covering what? And I mean, you end up talking about money a lot, just like the nuts and bolts of like, how are we going to pay for this thing that we need to do? Or want to do? And that’s a good thing. Like, you should be talking about money pretty frequently. Even if it’s just like, once a week, you just sort of check in and be like, Okay, what bills are due this week? Or what expenses do we have coming up? What you know, what do we need to save up for? Are we on track with, we want to save up, you know, $5,000 for this big vacation? are we hitting our monthly goals and putting money aside for that vacation? Do we need to adjust our budget, it’s really nice to be able to have those conversations more casually. Because again, you’re in a moment of calm, you’re just talking nuts and bolts in business, you’re not freaking out, because you’re about to book the vacation, and you realize that your spouse took four grand out of the vacation fund to pay for something else without telling you and suddenly you don’t have the money you thought you did. Don’t do that to people. By the way. Don’t do that to your spouse. That’s not for either of you. Don’t don’t drain joint savings for things without talking to each other.

Maggie Germano 22:17
Yeah, no, I’m definitely with you on like having those frequent, just normal typical day to day money conversations, because it makes talking about money a little bit easier. It keeps you both on the same page, like it can be basically impossible to save up for goals if you’re not talking about what the goals are, and how you’re actually going to achieve that and how much money needs to go where and which account it’s going to be coming from in order to reach that goal. So having those constant conversations can obviously help achieve that. But when it comes to broaching those difficult topics, whether it is something as extreme as you drained our joint savings account, what the hell, or something as simple as, you know, it bothers me when roommate when you’re like a day late to transfer money for the electric bill or whatever. How do you kind of recommend people broach those conversations in a way that maybe even if compassion has reached its limit? Maybe doesn’t explode?

Sara Rathner 23:26
Um, yeah. Oh, god, that’s, that’s hard. Because how do you approach somebody when they’re, they’ve just done something. And it’s like, they know, they know that what they did wasn’t good. They’re not ignorant of that. So they know that when you broach a subject with them, like they’re, they’re being essentially like, called to court to explain themselves. So you might get some people being defensive, trying to justify their actions, trying to minimize their actions. These are all normal human reactions to things but they are super frustrating when you’re on the other side of it, and you’re just like, just tell me why you’re doing this. Like, I need to know. Um, so I think maybe, again, approaching with compassion, just being like, hey, like, is, you know, me saying like, Is something going on? Like, is everything okay? You don’t just take money out of a joint account, because everything’s going super awesome. You don’t just not pay a bill because you know, life is going the way you thought it would. I’m just maybe as you know, is everything okay? Because, you know, I noticed that you took this money out or I notice that you’ve been late on payments the last couple months and I’ve had to front my money. And I was wondering if like if if you know, something was going on, like we can talk about it and just make them feel safe. Because that makes them more likely to open up to you and be honest, because they don’t feel like they’re being like scolded and punish by like a scary governess. You know, like you don’t want them to feel like they’re a child. because these are, these are adult conversations, and you should both be able to feel like the adults that you are. And then just try to get them to open up. And if they get a little bit defensive, which is probably going to happen, you can say, you know, like, here’s how that affects us, or how that affects me. When you’re late on the electric bill, and I have to front it, I can’t afford to pay this other bill on time, my student loan payment or whatever, I know I come in, I come dangerously close to draining my checking account, because I’m living paycheck to paycheck when you don’t pay this bill on time. And I worry that, you know, one day I’m going to suffer the consequences of not being able to afford my bills or paying overdraft fees. I can’t do this anymore. Like I need you to pay your bills on time. Because I can’t, I can only, like, I did this for three months, and I can’t do it anymore. Or, you know, when you drain the money out of our shared vacation account, to pay for, I don’t know, whatever, hopefully, they’ll tell you what it is, like, we have to cancel our trip, we have to push it back another year. And that’s like, you know, I know you were looking forward to this too. And now we can’t do it. And that makes me really sad. You know, and, and just like opening up to them about how you feel and you’re, it’s like, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. Like, start with disappointment. And then maybe you can go into righteous anger depending on like, you know, what they’ve been doing with their money, instead of paying you start with that, it’s, you’re not always going to get the result that you want. You might not get a satisfying explanation, might not have the other person apologize sincerely and vowed to change and actually change. And if that if they don’t change, and they continue to take from you without giving, then you need to have more serious conversations about that, because that’s gonna affect you long term. But you know, maybe it’s time to break your lease and not live with that roommate anymore and say, Hey, consequence time, like, you’re not reliable. I can’t, I can’t afford to support you and myself, I’m going to find another apartment with a different roommate, or I’m going to move out on my own. And I’m, you know, like, by me, you know, and let them feel the brunt of that. You know, and it’s hard. It’s really Oh, god, it’s so hard to have these conversations, because you have to be prepared to instate some consequences if they don’t go well. And that’s not easy.

Maggie Germano 27:42
Yeah, no, that’s, I think that’s the scary part is like, you don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, you don’t want to make yourself uncomfortable, and then bringing up those potential consequences can be really scary. But I think you’re right that like the first step is approach it with compassion, you know, show that you care show concern, the next step is, you know, showing how that those actions, those behaviors are affecting you. Because I think maybe people don’t always think about how their actions or lack of action affects other people. So pointing that out. And then depending on the results of that conversation, putting those consequences into place, it sounds like that’s kind of the series of approaches with this conference kind of conversation.

Sara Rathner 28:30
Yeah. And, again, I’ll warn you, it’s not necessarily going to go that the way that you want it to go. But you just sort of have to react to however it goes. And, you know, best of luck with that, I guess. I mean, we’ve all had hard conversations, in our lifetimes, about money and other things. And sometimes the conversations go really well. And sometimes they really don’t. And that’s what’s so scary.

Maggie Germano 28:59
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, depending on how that conversation is received, that can be a really good indicator of the relationship or of that person. And what you can maybe expect of them generally, obviously depends on like, what’s going on in their life, if someone lost their job or they’re sick, or you know, like that, that kind of thing is happening, but if they’re just someone who just historically is not financially reliable, or like you were saying is not trustworthy, you know, is taking things without letting you know or getting your approval. That is important for you to know. So depending on how that kind of conversation the result of the conversation is, it can help inform you on what kind of relationship or lack of relationship you should have with that person for you.

Sara Rathner 29:49
And that’s why if you’re in a dating relationship with somebody and it’s relatively new, you want to start talking about money early you don’t have to like show each other your bank account statements just yet. I mean, back Come later, I guess, but just kind of suss out their value system. You know, how do they spend their time? Who do they spend their time with? What sorts of hobbies do they have? What’s their family, like? What’s their family relationship with money, like, because that’s going to color a lot of how they act around money and how to treat money and how they might treat your money. And you want to know that early on, before you get too deep into relationship, because I think a lot of times people think, well, once we’re married, it’ll be fine. It’s not this magic wand that makes all of your dating problems go away, it just compounds them, because now you’re legally bound to somebody. So you want to know those things going into a committed relationship. So have those conversations pretty early, I think going on a long walk with somebody is a great way to get them to open up, there’s something about our long drive, there’s something about being side by side, but not looking at each other. That helps people open up a little bit more. And it can really, it can really bring you closer together, just to give yourselves that time, that uninterrupted time to walk or drive together and just, you know, just talk about deep stuff. Because a lot of deep stuff, a lot of big life decisions are also money decisions. So by talking about those other things, like hobbies and family, you’re learning a lot about somebody’s philosophy about money, too.

Maggie Germano 31:27
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s really great advice and a good pre emptive approach to the money conversation to avoid the hard stuff later. Anything else that you haven’t mentioned so far that you want to make sure listeners take away from this conversation.

Sara Rathner 31:42
So um, one thing that I’m big on is matching your money to your value system. And, and it’s your individual value system. And then it’s also a value system of the households that you you know, the family that you you share a home with, and that can be any combination of people. And what is helpful about matching money to values is that you’re actually putting your money into things that are important to you, you’re not spending money on, on on stuff, or experiences that don’t bring you any joy, or don’t bring any meaning to your life. And so those are also really important conversations to have, with the people that you share your life with what’s important to us, what do we want? You know, if if money were no object, what would we do with our lives is a really great way to find out what’s really important to you, would you give money to charity? Would you travel around the world? If you buy a vacation property? Would you? I don’t know, like, fund the arts? I don’t know, like, whatever. I mean, what would you do with your money? And maybe it’s because you value the arts, maybe it’s because you value different charitable causes, or you value travel or you value, having a comfortable space to go to once a year just to relax, and get away from your normal life. So that’s the vacation house. And it’s like, okay, well, if this is what we value, then we should, you know, you’re you might you’re most people are never in a situation where money is no object, and they never have to work. But even with money, being something you need, you can still put money toward those things. And so that’s something that can become a joint goal for you. It’s something that matters to you, maybe, okay, like, well, we can’t afford a vacation house. But once a year, we’ll rent an RV and like go RV, or once you know, we’ll, we’ll pick one or two charities every year and donate them as generously as we can. And that’s something that, you know, it keeps you focused, it keeps you from automatically spending on things that don’t matter to you. And also, like when family comes to borrow money, or when, you know, it’s like, well, I’d love to help. But you know, we have this goal of like, my spouse wants to go back to grad school, and we’re saving for that. And that’s really important to us. And we just we don’t have a penny to spare right now we’re where we can give you a small gift. But it’s not as much as we would have wanted to just because we have this, this other ambitious goal that we’re working toward, and like, you know, in letting people in on on what is important in your life, you kind of help them become a part of that too.

Maggie Germano 34:07
I love that advice. That’s so important. I’m a huge fan of connecting your values with your money. I think it makes it so much more meaningful, and it makes it more motivating and like you were just saying it makes it easier to communicate what you are able and not able to do. So I think that’s really great advice. So how can folks follow along with your work and find you on the internet?

Sara Rathner 34:30
Well, you can find me at NerdWallet obviously, it’s where lots of my work is. i You can also find me on Twitter at Sarah Kay Ratner. Sarah without an H. And yeah, that’s those are two great places to find my work and check out NerdWallet in general, for really great advice and tips and tools and calculators, all sorts of things that you can use to help you whenever you’re dealing with a big money question or decision. It helps to have some resources.

Maggie Germano 35:00
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I will link to both NerdWallet and your Twitter in the show notes so that people can easily find you. And thank you so much for taking the time today. I think this was a really important topic and something that I really enjoy talking about and I know will be really helpful to the listeners.

Sara Rathner 35:17
Thank you so much. And I hope I hope somebody got something good out of this. So if you’re face to facing a really tough money conversation with a loved one, I hope I’ve given you the fortitude to make it happen.

Maggie Germano 35:30
And then you definitely did. So thanks so much.

Sara Rathner 35:33
Thank you.

Maggie Germano 35:36
Thanks again for listening to the money circle podcast. If you want to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog visit Maggiegermano.com. To get in touch with me directly email me at [email protected] germano.com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye