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Elle Martinez

Simple Banking and Humble Bundles

couple money interviews

It’s Friday! Before I check out for the weekend I want to share what’s been going on this past including an awesome deal on games and a checking account designed to help you save more money.

Humble Bundles – Fun Games, Great Causes

Humble Bundle raises money for great causes by offering deals on electronic content. You pay what you want for them and decide how much of the money goes to the publishers and how much goes to charity.

I think it’s a creative way to help out others while affordable snagging some entertainment for yourself.

There’s an Origin bundle right that has five hugely popular titles available (including Dragon Age:Origin)  if you pay any amount. You can also pay more than the average (it’s just under $5 now) and you can unlock eight more titles.

The money will be distributed to these charities:

You still have a few days left if you want to get some games and help out these wonderful charities.You can also check them out from time to time for other specials.

Couple Money Around the Web

Besides writing here, I also run the Couple Money Podcast, contribute to other sites, and occasionally do interviews. Here are few things I’ve been busy with:

Excited about next week’s episode – I’m going over how IRAs can be a huge help for retirement.

Money and More Posts I Loved This Week

I found a few gems this week

I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend!

How to Stop Fighting About Money and Build Wealth Instead

Welcome Money Smart Week Visitors

Welcome Master Your Money Viewers!  I hope you enjoyed Part One of the Master Your Money series. Please join in Part Two at 8pm ET tonight when three fantastic bloggers share their best money tips.

To make things easier for you, I’ve included below information and links to the topics I discussed in my presentation.

Money & Marriage Podcasts

I’m a believer in finding a support network to help you two learn to communicate better and become more money savvy. With podcasts becoming easier to follow, here are some you may want to listen to and subscribe.

Couple Money Podcast

One reason I created the Couple Money Podcast was to help couples pick up tips and encouragement from real life couples who have been in similar circumstances.

His & Her Money

Talaat and Tai talk about how when they were married that they were total opposites when it came to finances. They climb out of the debt trap (twice!). His & Her Money Podcast features their and others’ stories on how they made it through.

Better Conversation About Money & Marriage

Derek and Carrie have a wonderful podcast show that is all about Better Conversations on Money and Marriage. They’re a fun couple to listen to as they discuss real issues they’ve faced.

Simpler Happier Life Podcast

Mark and Lauren have some wonderful tips on slowing down and simplifying your life so you can be happier. Simpler Happier Life Podcast offers some practical tips on how your can cut back on expenses.

Building Up Your Marriage and Net Worth

There was so much to talk about with the presentation I couldn’t include everything that I wanted to. Depending on your situation, I hope these posts will point you two i the right direction.

Are You Two Looking at Getting on The Same Financial Page? 

Do You Want to Pay Off Debt Fast or Earn More? 

Are you Planning on Starting a Family While Still Building Your Net Worth?

Keeping Up with Couple Money

I hope you’ll take some time to become part of the Couple Money community!

  • Stay up to date on Couple Money by signing up for the free newsletter and find out about the latest posts and information on the Couple Money Community.
  • Email me at elle(at) CoupleMoney (dot) com. I would love to hear from you personally and I’m open for feedback.
  • Chat with me on Twitter.  Besides catching my daily thoughts and getting my favorite posts of the day, I also enjoy answering questions and chatting.
  • Become a Facebook FanCome share your story about how you two work together on your finances.

Moneystepper’s 2015 Savings Challenge Update #3

couple money moneystepper savings challenge

It’s time for an update on the MoneyStepper’s 2015 Savings Challenge. Actually it’s overdue, but because we took a spring break last week I’m not feeling too bad.

I’ve signed us up for it as a fun way to build up our net worth and savings. The two main goals of the challenge are:

  • Grow Your Net Worth
  • Save % of Your Net Income

For 2015 our family will do our best to increase our net worth by 25% and have a 15% savings rate.

March Net Worth and Savings Results

March went by way too quickly – it was my first month back to work since having the baby. Even now, my work schedule changes every two weeks until I can find something that fits.

I’m currently doing a pseudo-split shift where I work in the morning for a couple of hours and then finish up in the evenings after my husband comes home. Not sure if I want to keep this schedule.

Otherwise the only other difference with March versus the previous month is our tax refund. It was smaller than precious years (we’ve gotten better with estimated tax payments with my work), but big enough to bump up our savings.

For those curious, here are our numbers for March:

  • YTD Net Worth Improvement: 8.9%
  • YTD Savings Rate: 27%

I’m really happy about this, especially with the big changes around the house.

Savings Challenge

Graham, though, had a different take on my progress. After I submitted my numbers and gave him an update on what was going on, he sent me a proposal for the challenge:

Given that you are currently 42% ahead of your pro-rata net worth goal and 80% ahead of your savings rate goal, perhaps we should re-evaluate your annual goals in order to keep them relevant and to ensure that you are really pushing yourself.

From our discussions to date, you’ve had one off events in Q1 …. which may not be repeated again in 2015.

Also, the markets up to the end of March have seen the FTSE 350 increase by 3.6% and the S&P 500 increase by 0.5%. Neither of these are hugely anomalous, and so these shouldn’t really factor into our re-evaluation decision.

Therefore, I would recommend that we alter your goals to:

  • Net Worth Increase: 30% (5 percentage points increase compared to your original goals)
  • Savings Rate Increase: 20% (5 percentage points increase compared to your original goals)

I know that this will be a challenge, but it is called the Moneystepper Savings Challenge after all…! 😉

What do you think?

My first reaction was “What? Are you crazy?!” LOL

We had a baby, I got a new workload, still trying to figure out this schedule…

When I took a day to think about it, though, I saw Graham’s suggestion differently. I began to see this as a way to push us to be more financially fit and get rid of the student loan.

We might not reach this new goal, but I believe at the end of year it will get us closer to financial freedom. So I emailed him back and told him we’re in. Hopefully next month’s review will show us meeting this new challenge.

Thoughts on Our MoneyStepper Progress

I’d like to hear about you and your family about your goals and progress so far. Have things been going well? Have you had to deal with any set backs?

Join Us for Money Smart Week and Master Your Money!

Learn how to build your net worth and marriage

Looking to Master Your Money? Great news; Money Smart Week is coming up quick and with it a ton of great events and resources to help you!

Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. This year it runs April 18 – 25, 2015.

There are events throughout the week from partner organizations including financial institutions, libraries, government agencies, media and nonprofits. They’ll be covering all of the major money topics and reaching out to all demographics.

What makes this especially good is that All Money Smart Week® events are FREE! 

Master Your Money

Couple Money is teaming up this year with an group a personal finance bloggers and podcasters to help you master your money. With so much to cover, it’s divided into two sessions so you can get the information and encouragement you need to tackle your money problems.

For those curious, here are the panelists:




The topic I’ll be tackling is How to Stop Fighting About Money and Build Wealth Instead. It will be focused on helping couples who have different and opposite getting on the same page

The session is free, but seating is limited. Register for either or both Master Your Money sessions today (use the links below) and reserve your spot.

Curious About How to Master Your Money

If you have any questions you’d like answered, please email me. I’ll also be updating this post as more information becomes available.

What You Need to Know About Mortgages

Learn from a mortgage loan officer what you need to know before you buy a house.

Buying a house is typically the biggest purchase couples make. You two can be ahead of the curve and save tens of thousands of dollars by learning the essentials about mortgages.

I’m not a professional financial expert so I compiled a list of questions that home buyers may have and sent them to Coastal Federal Credit Union.

They came through and one of their mortgage loan officers took the time to answer my questions about buying a home and getting a mortgage that works with your budget.

(Note: Minor editing to make format it for this post)

Saving Enough to Buy a House

While saving for a down payment is a necessary step if you want to buy a house you can afford, there are other expenses you need to be aware. Preparing ahead for these costs will make the process go a lot of smoother for the two of you and your budget.

What mistakes have you seen first time home buyers make when purchasing? 

  • Failing to plan. We encourage you to sit down with a lender first before starting the homebuying process. Get preapproved before you shop
  • Not working with a good realtor. Have a buyer’s agent, rather than calling the seller’s agent on a the sign from a home you saw
  • Not getting all the recommended inspections. Again, a good buyer’s agent can guide you through the process, and help you choose the inspections that will best protect you
  • Not Tapping into your network. Look to family and trusted friends for recommendations for both your lender and an agent.

Besides the down payment, what are some typical costs that home-buyers needs to plan and save for?

  • Moving expenses
  • turning on utilities
  • furnishings, appliances
  • maintenance items / tools
  • décor
  • sometimes there are repairs that are needed that the sellers didn’t cover

One bit of advice we give our members is to avoid buying things before closing, especially if you are using credit, because the added credit balances could affect their final credit check prior to closing the mortgage. Consider whether they have to buy out the remainder of a lease if they are renting.

For a couple looking to buy there first home, how would you advised them to plan? What numbers should they think about and run BEFORE they shop around for a lender? 

Start with the lender in order to get an understanding of how much home you can realistically afford. Go in knowing how much you spend on household and reoccurring expenses now, including rent; how much they owe on other loans and what your disposable income is .

Shop lenders for the first time homebuyer program that works best for you. Look for a lender that’s willing to hold your hand through the process.

Mortgage Interest Rates, APRS, Origination Fees, and Points

Besides saving for your house, it’s important to understand all the terms of your mortgage. That means becoming familiar with the jargon that lenders use.

When shopping around looking at various lenders’ sites, typically I see the interest rate and APR given. What exactly is the difference between the two? 

APR is a tool to standardize the comparison from one loan to the next. It is the annualized cost of the loan, including all of the interest and lender’s fees. The CFPB recommends that borrowers should always use APR for the best comparison. The interest rate is a component of APR.

What are origination points and how do they work? 

Origination and points are two different things. Origination is the lender’s fee and covers a variety of the services they provide in preparing the loan. Fees range from 0 to 1% of the total loan. Discount points are prepaid interest and are used to buy down the rate. Both origination fees and discount points vary from lender to lender.

Thoughts on Buying a House

What other questions do you have about buying a home or mortgages?