How to Manage Money as a Family

This week, Maggie chats with the founder of Smart Money Mamas, Chelsea Brennan, to talk about how to manage money as a household and how to be prepared if there's an emergency.

If you are partnered, married, if you have kids or think you’ll have kids someday… even if you just have parents or siblings, this episode is for you! Chelsea Brennan and Maggie talk all about how to manage finances and other important information as a family, as well as planning ahead in case of emergencies. Chelsea makes these difficult topics easy to understand and act on!


Chelsea Brennan is an ex-hedge fund investment manager turned full-time blogger at Smart Money Mamas. After several years working on Wall Street, Chelsea made a major life change to choose family, passion, and a positive impact on the world over money. With Smart Money Mamas, Chelsea is on a mission to help all moms feel confident and secure with money so they can stress less and do the work they feel called to do.

Chelsea is a recovering perfectionist, aspiring homesteader, and full-blown Potterhead living in Connecticut with her husband (a rockstar stay-at-home dad and board game enthusiast), two young boys, a puppy named Stitches, and 14 crazy chickens.

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit

To get more involved with Money Circle:

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


Maggie Germano: 00:00 Hey there and welcome to the money circle podcast. My name is Maggie Germano and I am your host. This week I’m talking to Chelsea Brennan about family finances, so basically how to manage finances as a couple and as a family and how to make sure that everyone is on the same page and has all the information that they need to manage their finances successfully. So Chelsea Brennan is an ex hedge fund investment manager. Turns full time blogger at smart money mamas as after several years working on wall street, Chelsea made a major life change to choose family passion and a positive impact on the world over money with smart money mamas. Chelsea is on a mission to help all moms feel confident, insecure with money so they can stress less and do the work they feel called to do. Chelsea is a recovering perfectionist, aspiring homesteader and full-blown Potter head living in Connecticut with her husband, a rockstar stay at home dad and board, game enthusiast, two young boys, a puppy named stitches and 14 crazy chickens. I had a lot of fun having this conversation with Chelsea and I hope you enjoy it too. Welcome, Chelsea, thanks so much for being here today.

Chelsea Brennan: 01:21 Thanks for having me. Maggie. I’m excited to talk to you.

Maggie Germano: 01:23 Me too. Um, so I know a lot about you because we’ve known each other for a little while now, but why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about you and the work that you do?

Chelsea Brennan: 01:34 Sure. So I run a site called smart money mamas, which is all about empowering women with their money so that they can live fulfilled, lives with less stress and do the work they feel called to do.

Maggie Germano: 01:46 That’s great. Yeah, that resonates a lot with me even though I’m not yet a mother. I am very supportive of that mission. Um, so how did you get into this work?

Chelsea Brennan: 01:56 So I was previously a hedge fund investor, which is obviously a very different world than this. Uh, but I really missed the personal aspect of finance, right? There’s something very, very different about institutional and corporate investing. You’re not dealing with people, you’re not dealing with real money issues. And that was what I always really cared about is like how can we help more families fierce, feel secure with their money. So I started the blog as a way to help some women in my mom’s group of all things. And then it grew into something that was such a huge passion project that I left my hedge fund career about a year and a half ago to do this full time.

Maggie Germano: 02:30 Yeah. So obviously it’s been going well and you’re kind of popping up everywhere on the different kinds of things that you’re doing. So we’ll, we’ll get into that a little bit more later too. Um, so you mentioned, you know, wanting to help families and mothers specifically. Uh, so why is it so important to you that women and mothers in particular are doing what they can to get their money? Right?

Chelsea Brennan: 02:52 Sure. So mothers in particular, I mean, we can talk about women as a whole, but from others in particular as a for a moment. Um, it’s really interesting that moms tend to control the budgets at home. They tend to do the majority of the spending. And research suggests that the kids actually look to their mothers to learn money habits, both boys and girls. But over 75% of girls prefer to learn about money from their moms. The majority of boys feel the same way. Yet women overall are more reticent to talk about money and they have lower levels of financial literacy. And that plays into how well they can protect themselves financially. And when they ultimately will probably have to manage their money on their own. Almost all women at some point in their lives are going to, whether they outlive their spouse or get divorced, they’re going to have to take over.

Chelsea Brennan: 03:36 Um, and it’s a scary thing for them. So you talk about like the fidelity investment women’s study, you know, over two thirds of women have avoided conversations about money because it’s either, you know, too personal or they’ve been told not to talk about it or they don’t feel like they can talk about it intelligently. So for me, when we have this, you know, group of people that, um, has a lot of financial power but not necessarily recognizing that they do and has a huge amount of power in raising the next generation to be better with money. Um, we really wanna make sure that they feel comfortable talking about money and feel comfortable in the topics.

Maggie Germano: 04:10 Yeah. And it’s so interesting that disconnect between women being the ones who are typically managing the household budget and teaching their kids about money versus also feeling like they don’t know what they’re talking about and that they don’t need to be the ones taking the lead role in money decisions, whether it’s investing or otherwise.

Chelsea Brennan: 04:31 And there’s absolutely like a, a disconnect with women tend to manage the household budget and paying the bills, but husbands or the men handle the investments and retirement and, and things like that. And that’s, I see why it happens and it totally makes sense in some ways of how that developed. But when you talk about longterm wealth building, knowing how to invest, knowing how your entire bank accounts are set up and where, where, whether you have the right life insurance and policies in place, uh, that’s really important when it all falls on you to handle it at some point,

Maggie Germano: 05:04 right? Because like you were alluding to, a lot of women outlive their male partners if they are partnered with the male, uh, a lot of marriages end in divorce. And so, right, there is a high likelihood that even if it’s when you’re 80, you’re going to be the one managing all of your finances and investments on your own.

Chelsea Brennan: 05:23 And you don’t want that to be the first time, right? And like, whether it’s a divorce or you know, a spouse passes away, those are, those are grief and emotional moments and it’s not the easiest time to learn about something. And, and I think we make investing, we make money seems so complicated and scary. Uh, but if you do it in a point of calm and a time when you can kind of take it bit by bit, it’s not really that hard.

Maggie Germano: 05:48 Right. And sometimes it’s just a matter of getting started and just doing it and working with, you know, a financial advisor or someone like that who can guide you rather than you needing to understand the ins and outs of the stock market. Um, yeah, it’s just a matter of taking that step and something kind of based off of what you just said, you sent an email yesterday about making a will for yourself and in order to protect your family and like you were saying, if your spouse has died and you have to grieve them and deal with that circumstance, but also have to worry about what’s going to happen with the money and um, you know, figure out how to pay the bills and those sorts of things, that’s just an added burden on top of you. And just like it would be with your family if you didn’t have something like a will, uh, directing, you know, who gets the money, who gets what, how to pay for your funeral and things like that. So keeping those sorts of morbid but important steps in mind in order to protect yourself and your family.

Chelsea Brennan: 06:52 And I think estate planning is one of those things that most of us know we have to do it. We’ve heard about it. Uh, we know we need a will, but it’s one of those kinds of like adulting things that isn’t front of mind because we don’t think it’s an urgent need until it is. Um, and that’s another area of personal finance where it seems scarier than it is, right for most families. Um, a simple will is all you need. You got to name guardians for your kids and name, um, who you want assets to go to. You don’t necessarily need a full trust. Uh, and that can take 10 minutes and you can even do it for free at a bunch of sites. So like making sure you have those little things in place, it can offer a lot of peace of mind.

Maggie Germano: 07:26 Yeah, I agree. And I’ll add some of those, um, some of those resources in the show notes too, of where to do it for free, where to do it paid. I know that I started the process through one of the links that you shared, um, in order to, you know, like now that I own a home and now that I’m married, like I don’t have kids yet, but there are assets to be thinking about where things are going to be going and who’s going to get taken care of and that sort of thing. Um, and so, so you mentioned that T women actually tend to be the ones kind of managing the household finances even though that maybe their male partners are the ones, uh, worrying about investing in that kind of future planning. But yeah. Is there, and the answer could be no, but is there a particular way that you think that families should approach money management in a way that kind of might differ from people who are on their own who are single?

Chelsea Brennan: 08:20 Yeah. So I think that I think that there’s no right going to be one right answer, right? For any family. It’s going to be dependent on personalities and your own family structure. I think how you divide responsibilities should really be a conversation directly with your partner. If you have a partner, um, what I do think is that the division of labor makes sense in most areas of household, right? You don’t need to both be experts at everything. We don’t as parents, we don’t have the time. Um, but we should be aware of what our partner is doing. So I think it’s a really important part of money management for couples is making sure you have regular money conversations. Even if early on you have to schedule them of like, okay, every other Friday for five minutes, we’re just gonna download what we’re working on. Um, and it comes back to just like making sure you’re on the same page and making sure that you’re not accidentally pulling in opposite directions in a way that builds resentment until you, you know, you don’t, you don’t even realize you were doing it. Um, so I think those conversations are crucial and I think that, um, making sure you make big decisions together and understanding what those big decisions are. And I think that we hear issues with couples sometimes. Like it turns out one spouse pulled money out of a retirement account without talking to the other one to fill a gap. Right. And that not even recognizing what the longterm impact of that is. So making sure you’re making big decisions together.

Maggie Germano: 09:33 Yeah, I know that if my husband did that I would probably faint. But, um, yeah. And, and this, so you know about my money circle group this month, our, um, event, the topic was about merging finances with a partner and a big part of that. And I feel like I was kind of on like a broken record cycle of like, you have to be talking about things, you have to be setting your goals together so that you’re on the same page about what you’re even working towards at, you know, not everybody has the same kinds of goals, but the other person needs to know that. And so, uh, and then also having those regular check ins so that everybody’s on the same page. And, and I liked what you said about how there is always going to be division of labor in the household. Not everyone is going to be good at the same things or want to be doing the same things.

Maggie Germano: 10:25 Uh, but having that awareness, and I mean, I know in my household personally, of course I’m the one who manages the money shocker. But I also don’t want my husband to have no idea about what’s going on. So we’ll use our weekly family meetings where one of the line items is up quick, you know, review of our finances of okay, we spent this much so far this month, this is what we have left. So like, don’t harass me about going out to eat because we’re a little behind. Uh, versus like you said, kind of making those bigger decisions. Like if we wanted to do something with like a home renovation or something, where is that money coming from? How are we going to pay for it? Is it the time to actually do it? Um, and the, I feel like that makes it feel like more of a partnership no matter who is taking the lead in that

Chelsea Brennan: 11:15 on your money circle topic about merging finances. It’s really interesting. Um, I got married at 23 and at the time I was wholeheartedly like everything has to be merged. Like you can’t have a partnership without being merged. I think some people have that opinion too still and I, and on some level I think it’s easier, right? Like we’re not transferring money back and forth between accounts. We’re not trying to split expenses. There is some part that’s like the mental load is easier. Um, but I’ve also come around to like different couples manage things differently and if it’s, if you feel safer having some separate accounts. And like last year for the first time my husband and I each open a separate checking account that are spending money goes into and partially part of was just like feeling comfort, spending that money without having to, to validate it. But it was also learning that if something happened, if there was an emergency, sometimes those joint accounts can get locked during probate and making sure you have access to money. So there is some, there’s some wiggle room, right? You have to find what works for you. And I still, we still have all merged finances except for those two accounts. But, um, it’s a little bit of trial and error.

Maggie Germano: 12:17 Yeah, I totally agree. And I mean, I say this about any kind of money topic where there’s no one size fits all solution. There’s no specific path to take that’s right or wrong that it is all going to be reliant on the couples involved. I’ve had clients who the women, they’ve had past experiences either with family members or partners where they just got totally screwed financially and they, they love their partner, they trust their partner, but they’re just not willing to let go of that kind of control and they want to have their money for themselves and do those kinds of transfers. But I’ve had other clients who feel completely comfortable having everything in one and not having anything to, that’s just theirs.

Chelsea Brennan: 13:01 And I think, you know, to, to go on a little bit of a tangent for a second, um, we’ve seen more media about find the idea of financial infidelity, right? And like hiding accounts and hiding money. And I think that obviously you don’t want that in a partnership, but you and I are both talking about making sure you’re sitting down and having regular conversations, but that at the same time for women, the risk of financial abuse is, is high and it can seriously impact your life. It leads to other safety issues. So if having, you know, even if you want to merge finances and have one account that is your account and your spouse can know about it or not know about it, up to you on your comfort level, um, but trying to delegitimize that actual risk for a lot of women and whether that can bring them some comfort and some safety, uh, is not a good thing. And I think that if, if you’ve seen that in your family before, if you’ve seen it in your own life, making sure you always have kind of an out is okay and it doesn’t mean you’re not committed to your partner. It just means you need to feel safe.

Maggie Germano: 13:53 Exactly. I’m a huge proponent of that as well. Cause yeah, like you were alluding to, financial abuse is hugely prevalent and in it exists in, what is it, 98% of abusive relationships. So for those who don’t know, financial abuse is using money as a tool of abuse and a tool of power. So restricting access to funds, sabotaging career, um, those, those sorts of things. And so someone at money circle did ask the other night, it does it, is it okay to have secret accounts from your partner? And I said, you know, if you trust your partner and you’re in a loving relationship and you are not worried about needing to leave at a moment’s notice or are having money restricted, then I don’t know if there is a need to have a secret account. I think having your own accounts is fine, but it doesn’t have to be, you know, totally secret opened under a false name or something like that. Um, but, but I did stress that if you are in a situation where you feel like you might have to leave for any reason, any reason at all, it’s okay to be stashing money aside to be able to protect yourself because money is one of the top reasons w a women can’t leave abusive relationships when they might need to,

Chelsea Brennan: 15:08 especially women with kids. Right. You hear it all the time of like, you know, whether they’re worried about custody or they’re worried about supporting their families. Um, it’s a tough situation.

Maggie Germano: 15:16 Exactly. So it’s not as cut and dry as just leave if you want to. It’s like, no, that’s not exactly how it works. Yeah. Oh yes. Big topic. Um, so, so to kind of steer a little bit back towards why I really wanted to have you here is something that you talk about a lot is, and you’ve mentioned this already, is making sure everybody in the family is kind of on the same page financially. And just in terms of like, knowing what bills to pay and knowing how to access certain funds, like if your partner not necessarily was to die, but if they were to get injured or were incapacitated in some way, you would still need to be paying your rent or your mortgage and making sure that your electricity was staying on. And, and then also be able to access like the health insurance information if it’s needed and all, all of those things. So how can couples and families and even individuals, because I assume they have families outside of themselves, um, how can they make sure that their loved ones have access to important financial information?

Chelsea Brennan: 16:25 Uh, so we developed for my husband and I, a family emergency binder and we actually sell a digital version of it now. Um, and it was a huge thing for us. So we have that division of labor where I manage all the, all the finances. And it got to the point where my husband was completely out of it. He knew the numbers, he knew it was going on. But like as far as login information, I mean guys, like he called me to get his Vanguard password to buy my engagement ring. Right. Cause he didn’t know what his Picard password was. So when I was pregnant with our first and it was literally like sitting in the room to get the health exam for my life insurance, I was like, he will have no idea what to do. Like he will be suddenly given a huge influx of cash.

Chelsea Brennan: 17:02 We’ll have a little baby and he won’t know how to invest it or where it goes or what our account numbers are. Um, so I started developing this family binder that was originally started as you know, it was a couple of pages and it was just like, okay, here’s the exact steps to take if with the life insurance money, like it’s to fund these three things and then put the, put the money into the account for six months and just let it sit while you kind of settle yourself. And then here’s some financial advisors that I trust that you could call to get some help. And like we kind of walked through the process and then I’d included all our account numbers and usernames and passwords and then it grew over time to include like, okay, here’s how we pay the bills and here’s what’s on auto pay and what’s not and what you have to pay attention to.

Chelsea Brennan: 17:43 And um, we pay our home insurance and auto insurance for the full year at one in time. So like we Mark in there like, okay, April is when that happens, so be ready for that expense. Uh, so we kind of started to break it down and then as I talked to people about it, particularly my mom who lost her father when she was young and my dad lost his mother when he was young about what that looks like of, and my mom has said to me before, like the fact that somebody knew who my best friend’s parents were and to call them so that they could come pick me up and I could spend the day with them while my mom was at the hospital and dealing with everything. She’s like, that was such a comfort. So we added pages on like each kid has a page of what’s their favorite song and what’s their favorite food and what’s your bedtime routine so that if someone else, you know, and like you said, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that a partner passes away.

Chelsea Brennan: 18:28 It could be you’re stuck on a business trip or someone’s just got to pick up the Slack for a couple of days. They know how to keep your kid in a routine so that they’re emotionally as safe as possible. Um, so we kinda cover all kinds of stuff in this binder. We’ve actually split it into, in our family we split it into two binders. One that’s like a day to day normal. Something small happens are reasonably small. And then, you know, the, as my husband calls it, the hit by a bus binder if like something terrible and um, we go to the safe but, but that’s what we do.

Maggie Germano: 18:57 Yeah, I love that. And I bought that binder myself as well and have been slowly, painstakingly filling it out cause I’m in the same situation where like if something happened to me, Dan wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage probably. I mean it happens automatically but he wouldn’t know where to log in, what account it came from.

Chelsea Brennan: 19:17 Right. If you want it to, I mean we hear that story. We’ve sold um, over 4,000 of these binders in the last year and we hear some crazy stories and some of them are like, Hey we shut down this checking account and we didn’t know that that was the account that the mortgage came out of and then we failed the mortgage payment and like making sure that all that kind of stuff is organized.

Maggie Germano: 19:34 Yeah. And those are the things you wouldn’t necessarily think about that like the, the in the weeds details of what’s coming from where and how certain things are getting paid for. Because I know personally I have like little workarounds that I do sometimes that I maybe don’t share. Like it gets paid on this credit card because of like this kind of reward. But then it like comes out of this account to pay it or you know, whatever it might be. Or even just things that I’m personally paying for that isn’t a family expense but it’s something that I pay for that maybe you know, he wouldn’t necessarily know about cause it’s like a tiny thing. Um, but I really loved what you were saying about keeping that normalcy. If there are kids involved and making sure that you know, there is someone to come and help out and know what they like to eat or don’t like to eat or their allergies are or what kind of medications they need. All of those details that feels normal in the day to day when you’re really used to it, but that other people wouldn’t know about it. There’s just so much more to it than just the money.

Chelsea Brennan: 20:38 There’s so much that we think like, Oh we’ll just, if someone, you know, babysitter’s going to take them for a couple of days, we could just tell them. And it’s like, well what if you aren’t around to tell them? Like what is the, what are the loopholes? So, you know, like I said, we’ve got teacher’s phone numbers and if they play a sport, they’re how to contact their coach and, and little stuff that just keeps it a little bit normal.

Maggie Germano: 20:57 Yeah, I really like that. I think that’s really important. And that just is the kind of thing you wouldn’t necessarily think of that can make all the difference.

Chelsea Brennan: 21:05 so I created this specifically as a family thing. Like right. We were, um, we were having kids and we wanted to have this in place. Um, but over the last year I’ve had some really interesting stories from other people in different circumstances. And one of them that came out most commonly was single individuals of like, Hey, there’s certain parts of this binder I don’t need. I just delete them, but no one knows where my stuff is. Right? Like I live alone. I have my own project. And like if my sister or my mom had to come in and pick the pick up the Slack, they would have no idea where to start. And like, I needed this to put it together. And then the other side of it is people who have emailed and said like, Oh my God, thank you. I fill this out. I mentioned it to my parents who I’ve been trying to get to talk about estate planning for ever and they like wouldn’t do it. And as soon as I had like this thing, now they’re filling it out and now I feel like I know where their stuff is. So there is, there’s some, some good uses even if you don’t have little kids or you don’t have, you know, kids under 18 at home.

Maggie Germano: 21:57 Yeah. I think that’s really important too. And something that it reminds me of. Um, and this will show my other interests outside of money, which is like true crime and listening to true grind fuck as, uh, one of the podcasts I listened to. They talk about having an, if I go missing folder and um, and basically it has like the login for your cell phone so that they can like log in and see what kinds of calls you’ve been making or who’s been texting you. Um, or even getting access to the like find my iPhone feature and having that in there and also getting access to your credit card information in your banking accounts so that they can see like maybe where your card has been used and that sort of thing. Cause sometimes it takes the police longer to get access to those things. Um, so I thought that was really interesting. I was like, I should do that and like so that someone could find me if that happened. Um, but then when I found out about your emergency binder I was like, okay, that’s like a very similar thing and that is a little less morbid and also way more broad.

Chelsea Brennan: 22:57 And speaking of why, just like this is a little bit different, but why parents are so stressed out all the time. When I was pregnant with our first, we had this company call us and like want to come to the house to show us how to set up and if your kid gets kidnapped folder right there, like you’ll have a picture and this is the information that you need and you should, you should have them fingerprinted by the police when there, and I was like, you realize that like kidnapping is, is very, very rare. Every time you make these phone calls, you’re just like making more parents think this is a more common issue than it is. Um, but I was mortified. I was like, I don’t think I need you to do that. Um, it was crazy.

Maggie Germano: 23:33 Ah, that’s not good timing. You’re like pregnant and already looking at impending motherhood and then have to think about all of the terrible things that could possibly happen. But don’t worry, you’re prepared.

Chelsea Brennan: 23:44 Okay, great. Thank you.

Maggie Germano: 23:46 Yikes. Well, I’ll keep that in mind if people reach out for that.

Chelsea Brennan: 23:51 Yeah. Just let them know that, you know, wow, this is the true crime. You’ve got it.

Maggie Germano: 23:55 Yes. Yeah. So I’m already emotionally anxious in that kind of way. Um, so you mentioned what was, you know, encouraging you to create this binder at least within your own families because you know, your husband didn’t have access, immediate access to your accounts and those sorts of things. But have there been, aside from the engagement ring scenario, had there been other scenarios where that binder has come in handy?

Chelsea Brennan: 24:23 Oh, it comes in, I mean we use it all the time, especially the like basic information one that I said like normal day to day. Uh, we just bought a house so when we moved and we needed to get the kids move their doctors, we had their doctor’s information and medical records all in there so we could just bring it over to the new doctor. Um, my dog’s vet and vaccination information is in there. So when we moved to the new town, had to reregister the dog, he pulled the information out of there. Um, we are actually doing a test for a few months where he is running the budget for a while, which is making me a little bit anxious, but he’s got it and he, he can go through there and he’s making sure that like we’re paying the right bills and that he’s practicing and, and we try to do this at least once a year of at least one month where he completely takes over so that it’s not completely new if something ever did happen.

Chelsea Brennan: 25:10 Um, but yeah, he uses it for that. Um, we use the first few pages, um, to leave out for babysitters. We’ll pull it, we have them on like a plastic sleeve and we’ll pull ‘em out, which has like emergency numbers and, and basic information. Um, and then what’s the one other thing we use it for? We use it because, um, sometimes the boys will stay with my mom or stay with my inlaws for a couple of days while we go away. Uh, and something that a lot of parents don’t realize is that in the vast majority of States, I think it’s in like 42 of the States. Uh, no one can seek medical care for a minor except for the parent. So if your kid falls down and breaks their arm or they get strep throat, grandma and grandpa can not take them to the doctor and actually get treatment. So you need a form that’s giving them permission to get treatment for your child. Um, so we have full form in there that gives my mom permission and my mother-in-law permission to bring them to the doctor. So hopefully nothing ever happens. They don’t get sick while they are there. But that way we don’t have to like fly home before they can get treated. Huh.

Maggie Germano: 26:02 I didn’t realize that. That is really good to know. And it’s also a little crazy.

Chelsea Brennan: 26:08 It is. Except you have to think about, um, different cultures have different rules about what they want for medical care, whether they want their kids to get vaccinated or not. Um, so they don’t want someone bringing them in to get care. Now, if it’s an emergency situation and they were in a car accident, obviously that’s the way hospitals work. They will treat immediately when someone comes in. But if it’s something that can wait until a parent is around, they will wait.

Maggie Germano: 26:27 Okay. That makes more sense. But yeah, but having that permission slip in order to avoid that kind of thing, like you said, coming home earlier, having to miss out on something else when it’s as simple as strep throat can be. Yeah, exactly. That makes sense. Um, so, and I also liked what you said about making your husband take over the budget for a period of time so that there is that practice under his belt and need, it doesn’t have to be something that he’s never had any experience with.

Chelsea Brennan: 26:55 Okay. As someone, yeah. As someone who is like budgeted every dollar she’s ever made it, it does actually like make me anxious of to not look over your shoulder and make sure please got it. And uh, I think it’s good. I think it’s good practice. Otherwise, like we talked about those, when something goes wrong, it’s so emotionally charged, you don’t want to be learning. It’s the same reason you fire drills at school, right? Like it’s just so that you have the reps and you know what to do if something happens.

Maggie Germano: 27:19 Yeah. And that’s a really good way of looking at it too, instead of like just in case I die. Like you just have to know how to do this and you have to be an expert and you’re thinking about it that way. But I really liked the fire drill example where it, it is just a matter of practice and having it be kind of, not second nature, but something that you’re already somewhat comfortable with if the time comes for that to happen.

Chelsea Brennan: 27:42 Yeah. Yeah. It’s not completely new.

Maggie Germano: 27:45 Yeah. So what are some of the stumbling blocks that you see within couples or families, whether it is around the, you know, sharing that information so that both people are capable of handling the finances if necessary, or just the general day to day money management. What are some of those stumbling blocks that you’ve seen?

Chelsea Brennan: 28:05 So one of the stumbling blocks that comes up a lot is just not understanding, uh, your spouse’s money, personality and money background. I think, you know, I’m someone who believes that a lot of how we were raised around money in our past experiences play into even subconsciously how we handle money today and not understanding where they’re coming from, what their main goal is, whether they are security seekers, are risk takers, um, can cause some diff cause it make it difficult to talk about money. So then you just avoid the topic altogether and that just causes more issues. Right? So I think taking the time to talk about goals, talk about past experiences. Like what was your, what were your early money memories, what were you, how did your parents handle money? Can just give you a little bit more understanding. Um, and then I think it’s just aligning the goals, right?

Chelsea Brennan: 28:51 Once you understand where you’re both coming from, making sure you’re headed in the same direction and if not, like you’re not always going to have the exact same goals, but make sure you’re prioritizing both people’s goals. Right? Maybe both. Get there a little bit slower cause you’re, you’re separating where that money is going. Um, but at least know so that when, you know, mom wants to pay off all the debt and dad wants to buy a house or something, um, you taking an influx of cash and paying off a huge amount of debt doesn’t cause some huge argument about, you know, misaligned, uh, goals.

Maggie Germano: 29:22 Yeah, I agree with that in both pieces. Cause like you said, I also think that history or with money and the way you’ve been raised to think and talk about money or not talk about money is really important and it often influences how you behave as an adult. I mean I see that with my friends, with my family, with my clients and I’m talking about those kinds of experiences is really important. And something that I, I said at money circle the other night was that it’s important to try to have those conversations without judgment. So especially if each person has come from a very different background. I think I told this one couple because one of them comes from wealth and the other one doesn’t. And that causes them to kind of butt heads a lot and not just in the way that they want to behave with their money, but also that like, well you were rich so you didn’t have to worry about that kind of thing.

Maggie Germano: 30:21 And it’s like, well she can’t change that. She grew up with wealth and had that privilege as a kid and that that, you know, kind of influences how she behaves now. So view it as just a fact like I had this experience, you had this experience that is fact. Now how are we going to be managing and dealing with our money together in a different way from the way either of us maybe grew up and how can we kind of compromise around certain things so that we both are feeling more comfortable and don’t have to be, you know, triggered by things from our past.

Chelsea Brennan: 30:58 And I totally agree with that. And I also think that like those early conversations when you’re starting to build the foundation is to not go into it with a let’s fix it mindset, right? Like yes, there’s money stress. Yes, you want to get to a certain place, but you can’t start fixing it before you understand where you are. Right. So like just listen, take it in, be be supportive of like what their experiences and what their lived experiences. Um, and then we’ll get to fixing it down the road, fixing it if it needs to be fixed. Right. I mean, if it’s just there’s history, then you can’t fix it. But you know what I’m saying?

Maggie Germano: 31:29 Yeah. Oh yeah, exactly. And uh, that, that’s such a good point to remember too is like the understanding needs to come first and the progress if necessary, will come later. And I mean, I tell that to my individual clients all the time too, that like, you just have to understand where you’re starting from. You can’t make any changes if you don’t know what’s already happening. And those changes also are not gonna happen overnight. It’s gonna be a process that’s going to be something that needs to be revisited. That’s why having the money conversation with your partner isn’t just like a one and done kind of thing. Like, okay, we sat down right before we got married and sorted everything out and now we’re good. It’s like, no, you have to be regularly sitting down together, whether it’s weekly, whether it’s monthly to be, you know, saying is this still working? Is, does everybody still feel good about this? Do changes need to be made? I mean, I have to do that in my own marriage as well and, and kind of adjust as we go.

Chelsea Brennan: 32:24 And the, the, uh, analogy I use all the times, I have a good friend who’s a personal trainer and he says to his clients all the time, okay, before you commit to 90 days of Keto or becoming a vegetarian or cutting out gluten, how about we go for a five minute walk every day for a week and then we’ll do the next thing next. Um, but don’t try to fix it all at once because you’re gonna get overwhelmed. You’re gonna backslide. Just start at the beginning.

Maggie Germano: 32:45 Yeah, exactly. And I, I’ve been working with a health coach for the last couple of months and something that she said to me the other day was cause I was having some frustration around like, well why didn’t I go from like not exercising at all to go into his body pump every single day and just like loving it. And she’s like, well you started with, you know, doing 30 minute walks with your dog in the morning and then you started going to yoga a couple times a week in addition to those walks and now you’re going to body pump once a week in addition to those kinds of things. She was like pointing out that it’s a tiered progress and and I was like, Oh yeah, just like with my money clients this the same exact thing. You have to start somewhere. You’ve look at what your situation is now you figure out what kinds of specific small changes you can make today and even looking at it, like you said, the five minute walk, like what is one thing I can do today?

Maggie Germano: 33:38 Not that I will say, I’m going to do this for the rest of my life now, because that’s probably not going to happen. And if you do set that kind of goal the first day you screw up, you’re going to be like, well, I’m a failure. I can just never do this. I might as well not try again. And that’s not gonna help you either. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Um, so what do you think is one step families and individuals can take to start kind of getting more of that control over their money and having more of that cohesive approach to their money?

Chelsea Brennan: 34:11 So you could do one of two things. I think the first thing, um, is always to sit down and have that conversation right. And when I say sit down, I’ve actually found with people that like being in the car or going for a walk is an easier way to have that conversation than sitting down across from somebody and being like, okay, let’s have this, have this conversation. Uh, but talk about it, open the door, um, make it something that you and your spouse can talk about. And then the second thing, um, is just to look at your past expenses. Like, don’t try to make a budget without knowing where your money’s going. Don’t try to, you know, once again, don’t try to fix it, but download your last month or two of statements, highlight through, see where you’re spending. Um, and a lot of times there’s some breakthroughs app and just there people don’t realize they’re spending so much money on certain things or, um, they have priorities that aren’t being funded while other things are. Uh, so just, just sit down and take a look at it and then go from there. That’s great.

Maggie Germano: 35:00 And, and I, I think what you said with like going for a walk or having that conversation paired with something different so that it isn’t as serious as sitting down across each other and having a formal conversation about money, it takes some of that pressure off and makes it more aligned with just having any other kind of normal but important conversation. And, um, yeah, and I totally agree about, about just understanding where your money’s already going in order to, to change where you might want it to go in the future. Um, so what’s one last thing you want our listeners to know before you go?

Chelsea Brennan: 35:36 So we are currently working on a online summit, which will happen next month. It’s called mama’s talk money. We have over 40 incredible women speaking on all areas of personal finance. It’s free to attend. Um, so we’d love if anyone wants to join us there, you can sign up for the wait list at mamas talk

Maggie Germano: 35:52 That’s awesome. I’m excited to tune into that as well. It looks like you have a lot of really awesome women involved in that.

Chelsea Brennan: 35:59 It’s been a lot of fun to put together.

Maggie Germano: 36:01 Yeah. And what kinds of things are folks talking about?

Chelsea Brennan: 36:04 So we’re talking, we have a few people talking about, um, managing money as a couple and especially from different having different rent money personalities. We’re talking about budgeting and debt freedom. Um, we’ll do a whole day on investing in retirement. So we’re doing kind of investing one Oh one we’re having the chief investment officer of LMS is going to explain what social impact investing is and how, where that kind of market is going over time and whether you should consider using it. Uh, we’ll talk about career in business development and then the last day is kind of a super fun day. We’re doing kids in money, so how to teach kids of all ages about money and get them ready to kind of go be independent adults.

Maggie Germano: 36:38 That’s awesome. All that sounds really great. I can’t wait to hear more about it. Um, so how can listeners get in touch with you?

Chelsea Brennan: 36:45 So I am smartmoneymamas on all social platforms. I spend a ton of time on Instagram so you can always go visit me over there or the website is

Maggie Germano: 36:54 Great. All right, well thanks so much for being here. This was a lot of fun.

Chelsea Brennan: 36:57 Thanks for having me, Maggie. Thanks.

Maggie Germano: 37:06 Thanks for tuning in to the money circle podcast this week. Make sure that you rate, review and subscribe so that you never miss an episode is also really helps just as we’re getting off the ground so that more people get the money circle podcast in front of them and in their ears. If you’d like to get more connected with money circle or with me, there are lots of ways you can do that. To join the free Facebook group, visit To stay informed of any upcoming events, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at If you’d like to join the virtual money circle membership group, visit To learn more about my financial coaching services and my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog, visit you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano.