About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

For many couples, getting their house to sell for top dollar can help them hit crucial financial goals. Today we’ll go over what you need to know to get a great price when selling your home! 

Selling Your House for Top Dollar

Before we begin, I want to give a disclaimer that this episode’s topic and interview were done before the volatile landscape we find ourselves with the stay at home order in NC due to the coronavirus. 

I’m releasing it now for a few reasons:

  1. At some point in the future, these restrictions will be lifted and so now could be a time to start taking steps around your place to get it ready for sale
  2. I just saw a house in the neighborhood put a for sale up this week (dozens of listings new – or within the last 24 hours)- so people are trying to move on as best they can
  3. With things shifting including jobs, many couples in the relatively near future may have to move 

So while there may be an immediate slow on house tours in some areas, with this time many of us have at home, I thought it would be practical to get into ways to prepare so if you do sell when it’s time, you have what you need to get it done. 

I’m very grateful to have one of my favorite real estate experts back. Louis Guillama is the Vice President of Real Estate Operations over at Coastal Credit Union. 

In this episode we get into:

  • The biggest mistakes couples make when selling
  • How to Stage Your House to Sell 
  • How to decide if you should fix and update your place to able to sell it for more

Let’s get started! 

Handy Money Resources for Selling Your House (and More!)

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

If you need an agent, Daymark Realty has a fantastic team ready to help find the perfect house for you in the Triangle area!

For many couples, getting their house to sell for top dollar can help them hit crucial financial goals. Today we’ll go over what you need to know to get a great price when selling your home!  #realestate #fi #financialindependence

Are You Ready to Sell Your House?

One of the biggest mistakes that sellers make is not being prepared for the process, even before you decide how you’re going to fix up your home or if you’re going to go with a real estate agent.

There is some homework that you have to do to make sure that this makes the most financial sense. For example, if you are going to sell your home, have you built enough equity in your house in some hot markets?

Some sellers have found that they’ve had equity simply by being there and buying at the right time. While others may be surprised that they don’t have as much equity as they thought they did.

Second, can you afford the cost of selling? It could be that you need to rent a temporary storage unit, maybe hire some cleaners to get it ready. Or if you go with a real estate agent, there are some costs with that as well.

The closing [process] for your house has its own expenses.

And then, of course, after you sell your home, what are you going to do next? Are you going to stay in the area and buy a home or are you gonna go to another area where it may be more expensive or less expensive?

Answering those questions beforehand can make you better prepared and know your next steps for selling your home.

Another major decision that you have to make is how exactly are you going to sell your home?

Should we Use a Real Estate Agent or Try to Sell Our House Ourselves?

Now, I’ve mentioned on the podcast before, buying a home is typically the largest purchase that a couple makes.

On the other hand, selling your home can give you that windfall, so to speak, to help you hit crucial money goals that you have.

Depending on where you live, you may have to do three basic options in certain markets like here in Raleigh.

Get an Offer on Your Home with No Showing: Opendoor, Zillow Offers, and iBuyer

You may be able to use services like Opendoor, Zillow Offers and iBuyers where you reach out to these companies and they give you an offer on your home.

For some sellers, it’s a quick and easy option that fits their schedule, but it’s not available everywhere and you may not get the price that you’re looking for.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO): Is That Right for You?

The second way is to sell it yourself. You’ve seen those signs the FSBO – for sale by owner.

Now, this entices some sellers because they feel like they can save a significant amount of money not having a real estate agent. And that could definitely be a draw for you.

I did see a report, though, where it stated that thirty-six percent of sellers attempted to sell by owner, but only eleven percent actually followed through and sold it on their own.

Part of the reason could be the whole process of selling a home includes things like getting the price and listing up handling and scheduling all the showings, making sure that you have the paperwork and documentation done.

Of course, negotiating in that might be your wheelhouse. But if this is your first time selling or you just have a busy schedule and you rather have a professional handle it, you might want to pass on the for sale by owner route.

Working with a Real Estate Agent

And then finally you could go with the real estate agent. Now, a downside for some couples is the amount that the commissioners typically make is 6 percent, 3 percent for the buyers and 3 percent for the seller’s agent. However, there are a few things to consider.

One, depending on where you go, it could be a smaller commission. There are options like Redfin and even here in Raleigh, Coastal’s Daymark Reality which offers lower commission rates than typical.

Another crucial thing to consider is whether you’d want to have that expertise by your side.

Real estate agents come with various different backgrounds and levels of experience.

A really good real estate agent can not only make the process much easier to handle, but they can help out with the pricing and negotiations so that you can sell your house faster and for more money.

It’s not a guarantee, of course. So my piece of advice, if you go with an agent, make sure you interview them beforehand.

You want to feel comfortable with their strategy for selling your home and make sure that you guys are on the same page.

Most Common Mistake with Sellers? Pricing

All right, so let’s say that you decide that either you can sell it on your own or you’re going to go with an agent. That means that you have to prepare your house to get top dollar and to sell quickly. How do you do that?

With his decades of experience, Louis was kind enough to go over some of the biggest mistakes couples make with selling their home.

Louis Guillama: But the biggest mistakes that we see sellers make when it’s time to sell our house is deciding on a price.

A lot of those people make a mistake and confuse sentimental value with market value.

That’s where it will stay professional. Is she helping guide them in making that decision? You’ll look at the numbers and honestly evaluate where your house is in terms of price. That can go a long way to making the process a pleasant one. And again, quick.

Why Home Stage Matters

Another area where sellers struggle is how to set up their home to make it appealing to buyers. Staging your home properly can make a huge difference.

Louis: Staging is a key component of a successful transaction. We feel so strongly about it, we provide staging as a free service on every single listing.

Once we started that program, we saw a significant reduction in days on market. So there is definitely a tangible benefit to doing some staging.

Now staging can take on many forms. It can be is as elaborate as renting furniture and really redefining the interior space of a home.

But in most cases, those staging can be something as simple as just decluttering the home and presenting it in such a way so that people are able to focus on the property and that the personal belongings that you want people coming in and focusing on the product, which is your home.

You don’t want them focusing on your accomplishments, your personal interests and things like that.

Elle Martinez: And if you think this is a small thing that you can skip out on or it seems like it’s not going to make a big difference. Let me tell you, buyers are particular. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to imagine your home as theirs.

So I’ll tell you two quick stories of our experience, both as sellers and as buyers.

When we were selling our townhome, we followed the direction of the Daymark Realty staging expert. We made sure we declared depersonalized and we also made sure we had neutral paint colors throughout the house.

But there was one room that was the exception. It was the girls’ nursery. We wanted them since they were young, to have at least this stability as we were going through all these showings.

But with the feedback, that room kept coming up over and over again, even though we left specific guidelines to all of the agents that we are more than willing to paint that room, whatever color they want, should they make an offer.

Now, the second one was when we were searching for the next place and we were looking at houses. And my husband and I are savvy enough to know that there are plenty of things that we could change that were cosmetic, but it was still hard to separate and imagine living in a space because some of the sellers didn’t even do the basic preparations.

We had to move around a ton of furniture, making the places just feel too small for our needs. The rooms were not well lit. So again, it gave the sense that even though on paper the square footage was OK, it just didn’t feel like it would fit our family.

So at the basic level, make sure you take care of those key things. Make sure that you have declared as much as you can depersonalize it as much as you can have it with neutral paint colors. Those are key things.

Pull back the curtains, let the natural light in. And then when you are trying to figure out the furniture in the room, give each room a definite purpose.

You might have a very large multi-purpose room, but it helps to break it up and show the multiple purposes that you can do in each section versus having that all together. Again, you want to remove any mental barriers that buyers may have about choosing your home.

Louis: I can share one experience. We had several years ago where a member had a property listed with an agency for six months and it didn’t sell.

They had a chart showing there was over 30 showings and it didn’t sell. And then when we did the listing, we simply recommended they paint one single wall which has an accent wall, your master bedroom.

It was painted a very dark blue creature. Right. Really stark contrast. We walked into that exact room. So we recommended they just neutralize that color. They did what we asked.

And it’s all within two days with the same asking price. There was no material change except just the color of that one wall in the bedroom.

So, yeah, I mean, small changes can have a big improvement.

And it’s all about aesthetics. It will have a concept or idea of what their whole looks like and feels like. And so you wanna try to achieve that for them.

Gaining Curb Appeal

Staging your home on the inside is absolutely key, but don’t forget the outside.

As the buyer pulls up, what impression do they get with your home?

So some things to keep a lookout for and make sure that you’re on top of while you’re selling your home:

  • Trim the shrubs and any overgrown tree branches
  • Clear your walkways and paths
  • Windows are clean
  • A fresh coat of paint
  • Plant some flowers.

And if you have anything broken, maybe it’s the mailbox or lights. Take care of that.

Update Your House Before Selling It?

Elle Martinez: And speaking of small repairs, you may be wondering, do I need to do a big update to get a higher price or what are some things that I can do within my budget that really matter when it comes to selling my home?

Louis Guillama: We never recommend doing any heavy lift changes to the property.

I mean, substantial changes like that in my feature kitchen update. Those are better done when you first move into a house where you can have value and use and enjoy those upgrades when you’re living in a home.

You’re really not going to realize a great return on those improvements. We try to do what’s right for somebody else. This can go a long way in that only short in today’s market maximizing the sales price. So sure, I can have a big impact on betting on a condition that would definitely be something that do you consider.

Elle Martinez: And we actually had to do this with our townhome. We had carpets when we moved in, but after a few years, two kids and two cats. Well, it didn’t look that great. So we’ve replaced the flooring.

I think it made a huge difference, especially with the feedback that we got with the buyers.

Tips on Taking Incredible Photos to Sell Your House

And two key things that pulled in. The buyers were great photographs and fantastic descriptions.

Now here’s where your real estate agent can really shine and show that they are earning their commission as part of their service.

Some real estate agents do offer photographer. But all agents should be able to write up great descriptions for your home to make it appealing to potential buyers.

Now, if you are doing your own photography, there’s a couple things to keep in mind.

Get the best camera that you have. You want to make these pictures really pop?

Go for a wide-angle and make sure if you’re trying to get the size of the room. One of the best ways you can do that is going into the corner and getting a few shots from there.

If you can edit it to make sure that you are showing it in the best light.

With many buyers starting online with their search, having great photography really does matter.

Well, there you have it. I hope these tips make you feel more comfortable and confident when it comes time for you to sell your own.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

No one likes to think about it, but preparing for the unexpected can give you some peace of mind now and protect your loved ones later! This is the essential guide to wills and estate planning for busy parents!

Creating or Updating Your Will

No like to think about it, but preparing for the unexpected can give you some peace of mind now and protect your loved ones later!  This is the essential guide to will s and estate planning for busy parents!

So heads – this episode’s topic and interview were planned and done before things changed these last few weeks due to Covid-19.

I say this because I’m not trying to add to the anxiety.

I believe that if you are staying home and you’re healthy, now would be a good time to take care of certain matters that maybe have been on the back burner because you haven’t had much time.

And taking care of your wills, picking legal guardians, and making sure your life insurance is up to date – these are important.

So I decided to stick with the schedule on this episode.

There are so many we can’t control. It can be empowering in a way to focus energy on the things we can.

But when you making or updating your will, it may seem that’s too big of an issue to tackle.

Today I want to break it down into manageable chunks so you can make some progress on that.

Alison Kade from Fabric is here on the show today to decode and explain the essentials of how wills work. 

In this episode we’ll discuss: 

  • Why you need to plan now
  • Basic terminology every couple should know
  • How parents can prepare for the unexpected

Let’s get started! 

Resources on Estate Planning

If you want more information about setting things up for your loved ones and mage your money now, here are some resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

Meet Fabric

Fabric is committed to bringing financial products for new parents into the modern age, with an experience that is simple, affordable, and beautiful.

Fabric makes it easy for you and your spouse to understand and apply for affordable term life insurance. And then manage it conveniently from the app or online.

Think you don’t have time to create a will? Get a 100% free will from Fabric. Set guardians, choose beneficiaries, allocate assets, and you can finish in as little as 5 minutes.

Why You Need a Will

Elle Martinez: When some people think of wills, they feel as if it’s only for those who have a certain level of income or wealth, but a will can be a handy and necessary document for many couples and families.

Allison Kade: There are two main reasons that I see for wills in particular. So the first most obvious is it is a chance to pass down your literal stuff to gays who died to the people that you care about.

And a lot of people don’t really feel the need to think about that. If they are healthy and doing well and also one of the things that I hear most often is I don’t even have a lot of assets. Why should I bother?

I think that the response to that is, do you have a checking account? Do you have a savings account? Do you have a forum and can’t work? Those are assets.

Additionally, you know, do you have something sentimental? You have your keyboard or electric keyboard that you really want to pass down to your little brother because he loves it?

I mean, that is a thing that you can designate in a will. But beyond that, one of the biggest reasons that people start thinking about wills and estate planning is when they have kids, because a well is the main place where you can designate a legal guardian for your kid.

So if nothing else, even if you are like, oh, I am not materialist, you know, give away my computer to whoever you want, end. If you have a kid, I feel like it’s very important to make a will so that you can state your wishes on who should take care of your child. If you weren’t around.

Decoding Legal Terms with Wills

Elle Martinez: I want to say about a year after we got married, we had a very basic will done.

It was some software that you could sign up for – [we] knocked it out and we forgot it for many years. But when we became parents, we knew that we wanted to be very deliberate, very careful with how we plan things.

And so we took a second look at the will. And honestly, it was a little overwhelming because of the terminology.

The good news is you don’t have to become an attorney to understand how wills work. So we’re just going to tackle a few of these major terms today.

And yes, I’m going to drop the disclaimer that this isn’t legal advice. This is just for you to feel more comfortable expressing what you want in the will so it can better reflect what you to value and will want to have handled.

What’s an Executor?

Allison Kade: In simplest terms, the executor is the person who does the stuff right. So you say that you want to give that electric keyboard to your brother. Your brother lives in another state.

How is that getting there? Whose are you? Are you mailing this keyboard? Who knows?

The executor will figure out that weird stuff. You know, the beneficiary will, let’s say, receive funds from whatever assets you have. Who is literally writing the check? That’s the executor who is actually making sure that things are administered according to the will, because as much as you can state your wishes.

You’re not around. Someone has to liberally make sure that those wishes are fulfilled. That is the executor. And it can be a very stressful and challenging role.

I’ve actually seen it firsthand. So my husband was the executor of his grandmother’s estate and other beneficiaries included his bajillion siblings. And so and one of whom was under twenty-one. So a trust had to be in her name and administered.

So he’s the executor, but he ended up needing to also become a trustee of this trust. That was only going to be active for a couple of years.

So like all of these complicated things, he is just the guy who made things happen. You know, he spoke to the lawyer. He dealt with the estate. A painting had to be brought from Texas to New York. He figured out who the movers, how that works, like the stuff that’s the executor.

Mirror Wills for Couples

Elle Martinez: Another thing couples should consider when creating their wills is make sure that there aren’t conflicts between the two documents.

Alison Kade: While it is theoretically possible for couples to have one document to represent both of their wishes, often people might recommend that you have two separate documents.

Just in case there’s like, what if you get a divorcee? Now both of you have to redo everything. Like it’s often you’re to act like what if one of you dies? But it’s actually a joint will.

It can often be easier to have two separate documents, but you want to make sure that they’re aligned. So let’s say my husband and I had two different wills.

I said two totally different things and we both died together. But my will says that all of our stuff goes to my sister and his will says that all of our stuff goes to his sister.

So a court is going to have to duke it out because our wills don’t agree and they conflict. So one way to help make things easier after you’re gone and resolve potential strife is to make sure that your wills match each other.

And so this concept, if you have a will, that is pretty much the same and aligned on your choices, except it has each of your names on it is often called a mirror will.

And so my experience with this is through fabric, which offers a free online will. And one of the options that fabric offers is a mirror well. So I found that even in my case too, there’s often one spouse who’s like a little bit the ringleader, i.e. I was like, okay, we’re making wills and I make the will first. Then I sort of forced my husband to do it.

And in this case, with a tool such as fabric, I could make my will choose all the choices, and then I could create a mirror version for my husband that swaps out our names. If he’s my beneficiary, it’s me. His like it does that swap in an intelligent way, but everything else is the same. So his choice for who should take care of our daughter is the same as mine, etc..

Now he obviously has to buy it. I can’t make a will without it. And so that reflects the fact that we need to have a conversation. He has to sign it himself, but it saves time. And also importantly, it kind of forces us to level with each other and make sure that we’re aligned.

Elle Martinez: Talking about money is always a plus in my book. So if you haven’t already, make it one of your money dates where you don’t have to bring out the legal stuff but talk about some of those main points.

Just opening up the conversation may allow you to see where you guys sync up really easily and if there’s something that you need to hash out.

Legal Guardians for Your Kids

Elle Martinez: If you have kids, you have a big decision ahead of you, which is deciding who do you want to take care of the kids? Should something happen to us at the most basic level?

Allison Kade: I think you can start by thinking about who will raise your child in a way that aligns with yours.

So who will give your child the kind of life that you want your kid to have? Whether that’s most similar to how you would have done it, or just perhaps you could imagine them being part of that family and having a good life.

I think that layers beyond that include, frankly, who wants your kid? So it’s often very flattering to be asked. But having these conversations can reveal interesting things.

So, for example, I chose my sister as my daughter’s legal guardian because she already has a child and I like the idea of my daughter growing up with her son and they would be pseudo siblings. They already have a family life. My daughter already has a relationship with my sister. So that’s something also to think about.

What is the child’s relationship with this person? But there’s a world in which I could have asked her and she could have said, yeah, I mean. Oh, my son’s a handful, but I guess maybe there was some. You didn’t say that, but she could have.

And then there’s a chance that someone else in your life could surprise you that perhaps they don’t have kids. And it’s revealed they have a lot of space in their life and would love to take on this responsibility.

So I think. Who do you most envision as, frankly, doing a good job and who can take on that role in terms of space in their life and commitment? And who is your child most connected to as well?

Elle Martinez: This is definitely a discussion you don’t want to rush. So sit down and talk about what are the most important things for a potential guardian to do or have and then come up with the list.

When you can talk with the potential guardian or guardian to you’re thinking about about your wishes to see if things mesh up well.

Understanding Trusts

Elle Martinez: If you are parents and you do have some assets that you want to pass on to your children.

You may think about setting up a trust which can be a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with how they work.

Allison Kade: So and again, I should say, I’m not a lawyer. Talk to a lawyer for your own individual situation, etc. etc.

But at the most basic level, a will dictates who your assets should go to and a trust can dictate how those assets should be passed.

So for example, if I wanted to dictate that my daughter should not be able to. So she can inherit my assets, but not until she’s 30, I will alone. Can’t do that. You would need a trust to do that.

If I wanted to put in what’s known as a spendthrift clause, let’s say I want to pass on asset to someone who I kind of think maybe is irresponsible or has addiction issues that might give me the ability to dictate how they can access the money, what they can use it for.

It lets me put someone else in charge. It is a layer of complexity that isn’t always required across the board, but in many ways, it makes sense, especially if you are passing money down to children.

Elle Martinez: So I hope these explanations make creating and updating your will much easier.

Updating Your Will

Elle Martinez: And I do want to point out how important it is to update your will.

Circumstances change and you want to make sure that your will reflects the people that you want to take care of and the assets that you want to pass on to them.

Allison Kade: Everything can be updated and changed over time. So my sister is four years older than I am and I’m pretty quite certain that I remember conversations in which most of our childhood are and was our legal guardian and the will if something happened to my parents.

When my sister went to college, I was over 18. I was already in high school. And there was a conversation in which I’m pretty sure that for about four years there, my sister was my legal guardian.

And the will, because they were like, look, we got a responsible kid. She’s not the kind of kid who’s gonna blow all this cash at 18. She is the kind of kid who will step up and take care of her little sister, her. So they made that change.

You can always update based on the actual people and their actual circumstances.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

Working from home with kids around is both a joy and a challenge, here are four tips to make work and connecting with your kids easier!

Work from Home Parents & Challenges

Learn how you can navigate the challenges of being a work from home parent!

In this week’s podcast, I talked about making the transition to stay at home with the kids.

For some, that means one parent is devoting themselves full time to taking care of the kids and house. Other couples, including us, have made the decision to have one spouse work from home.

I think we can agree that each of us has our own challenges. Today we’re looking at navigating as a work from home parent.

Working from home can a fantastic opportunity to earn income and be with your kids.

The internet has plenty of gurus, bloggers, and advisers flaunting how easy it is.

And maybe it really is with some families, but our day to day reality is a bit more…chaotic. In a good way.

Keeping Balance as a Work from Home Parent

Here are a few of my tips for those looking at running a business from home with little ones.

Create a schedule. You don’t need to (or really want to) have things planned out minute by minute, but having a routine is a lifesaver for running a business.

With a podcast, I have to set aside time to do interviews and record shows.

After testing things out, I have a fairly set schedule where I can handle these tasks while the kids are napping or my husband is at home.

Learn how you can navigate the challenges of being a work from home parent!

Have a plan for crunch time. Sometimes I have evening calls or assignments I have to get done that day, but because of the kids or something else, I have to wrap it up at night.

My husband will step in and take the girls out while I finish. It is easy to take one another for granted, so talking about it before it happens makes it less stressful.

Have boundaries. Many entrepreneurs who work from home say it can be hard to separate things. They’re checking email on the weekend in the middle or family.

My advice is to be clear with your clients about your availability. You also want to sit down with your spouse and your kids if they’re old enough and explain the situation.

My oldest knows that if I’m recording it’s a quiet time for her while she plays in her room until I come and get her. On the other hand, I respect that she’s a kid and I keep my recording session short – no more than 30 minutes.

Getting what I need to be done in that time means I have to be prepared and have already done my research for the guest, but it’s been worth it for me.

Get back up. Look there are just times when you need an extra pair of hands so you can finish up something.

Don’t be afraid to get help. It could be a babysitter or you perhaps do a kid swap with another work from home parent.

Be selective with your clients. I know there’s a temptation to say yes to more income, but when you work fro home, it’s especially important for you to weigh the pros and cons.

How demanding is the client or the work on you? I’m grateful for the clients I have, but looking at my immediate future I’ve decided to do more projects where I have ownership and control such as this podcast.

Thoughts on Staying at Home with the Kids

That’s what I have. If you have any other suggestions or you want to share your stories, please send them in.

Don’t forget to join us in our free Thriving Families Facebook group. We’re focused on helping one another our with our family and money goals!

This show was originally released in July 2015. Show notes have been updated in March 2020.

While things are really fluid right now and some big decisions are still up in the air, it’s important to review and if necessary reprioritize things with your finances.

Today I’m sharing 4 tips to help you prepare your finances to weather out the tough times!

Shoring Up Your Finances for Tough Times

I usually don’t do an episode on the weekends, but I’m making a special exception with everything that’s going on.

Many, if not all in the community, are having their day to day lives change.

So today I want to quickly share a few tips to help you get some stability and get an idea of how the two of you can shift and reprioritize things so that you can ride out the tough times that come ahead.

Define Your Priorities with Bills and Your Budget

I hope you are doing well and staying healthy. It is insane how much of a difference one week makes. First off, let’s talk about financial priorities right now.

I’ve gotten some emails from some of you in the community where you are living paycheck to paycheck and with hours being cut or you’re having to work at home.

The question is, which bills should be paid first? Who’s the most important?

As a reminder, have that foundation, make sure that you’re taking those essential expenses like:

  • your rent or mortgage.
  • food,
  • utilities
  • transportation

These should be your priorities when your budget is tight or uncertain. It’s absolutely crucial to make sure you have that foundation first.

While things are really fluid right now and some big decisions are still up in the air, it’s important to review and if necessary reprioritize things with your finances.

Today I’m sharing 4 tips to help you prepare your finances to weather out the tough times! #family #money #marriage

Pad Your Financial Cushion

Your other priority right now is if you haven’t already. Make sure your emergency fund is padded. The general rule of thumb is three to six months of essential expenses on hand.

However, depending on your situation, you may lean harder towards the six months rather than the three months. If both of you, for example, have jobs where the hours are now being reduced or one of you is out of work right now, and just a reminder, I do have a free course on my site called Five Days to 5K. And what that is, it’s a week-long course.

I will walk you through the process step by step of how to find, save and make some extra cash on the side. That way you can build up that buffer. Just head over to couple money.com slash 5k.

I am by no means an expert on how things are going to play out, but judging by the news reason seeing what CDC is sending out, we’re looking at something like at least eight weeks. So now would be a good time to look ahead budget-wise in April and May.

You want to review your budget because there’s going to be shifts on certain expenses and you want to redirect money that you previously spent on expenses like lunches out or gas for commuting and move that towards that emergency fund your groceries and general savings.

Keep Your Pantry (Reasonably) Stocked

Third, make sure your pantry is stock. There is no need to panic and rush to the store.

Instead, have a careful plan for when you do go out and take care of that. And if you need a list on what to pick or to order.

Tap Into the Relief Resources

Also, if you’re not already a member of thriving families (and I’d love for you to be!), Andy from Marriage, Kids, and Money and I teamed up to do a special session How to Financially Prepare Your Family for Tough Times which you can now watch on YouTube.

We discuss how to prioritize your bills and start shifting your budget for the next few months.

We also dig into relief programs that are being offered by utilities, phone/cable companies, and federal programs.

For example, I just found out today that if you are a Coastal Credit Union member, they have a specific page for members to work through any hardships that you have and different programs.

Don’t Mess with Your 401(k)

The other side of the coin is with a lot of uncertainty, some people are asking, what should I do with any savings or investments like a 401(k)?

I’m going to repeat advice Paula Pant gave, which is,

Your 401k is like your face: don’t touch it.

Paula Pant @AffordAnything Mar 16

One of the most common things people tend to do when they are feeling uncertain is to pull out that money. But if you look at the historical data, that’s a losing proposition.

Now, if you’re in the position where you have the savings and you can and want to invest more to take advantage of the lower prices, that is fine, but otherwise, leave alone.

Instead, try redirecting some of that energy to things that you’ve been having on your financial to-do list because you can get more immediate returns from that.

As always, I’m here to help. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to me. I’m at @CoupleMoney for social media. Or, you can join our free and private Facebook group, Thriving Families. All of us are focused on helping one another out.

Resources to Manage Your Money Easier

Her Dinero Matters

Her Dinero Matters is a bilingual podcast for women who want to become reinas of their money and love their money more. 

Join Jen Hemphill, a former extreme frugalist turned reina of your money advocate each week for your dose of money confidence.

You will hear down-to-earth interviews and panel discussions from Latina community as well as solo episodes sharing simple actionable tips and strategies which you can implement right away. 

The best part is, Jen also offers some premium perks, such as special access to a community of like-minded women for a deeper discussion on latest episodes, monthly bonus mini-episodes, as well as a monthly PDF worksheet for that month’s money challenge, available exclusively through the Himalaya app.

The best part is, if you sign up now, you can use promo code DINERO at checkout for your first 30 days, free! So head over to the Himalaya app and check out Her Dinero Matters now. 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

One of the stickiest situations with couples is dealing with lending money to family. Find out different ways you can help without putting your own finances in jeopardy!

Should We Lend Money to Family and Friends?

Lending money to friends and family can be a tough situation. No matter how objective you think you are or want to be, emotions can run high. 

As you just heard with Jen, she and her husband weren’t seeing eye to eye on how they could help their loved ones. 

I totally get it – we’ve been there ourselves. Maybe you’ve gone through that situation too. 

Or with how things are going with Covid-19 and families being affected by these closings, some of your family and close friends will need some help soon, including financial.  

Now for most of us, we want to help. And if we have the means, we do. 

However, there are times when things are a bit more…messier. What if you want to help, but you’re just finding your financial footing yourself? 

What if you have a relative who keeps on having problems with their finances, where you are constantly bailing them out? 

Those are the types of situations where we tend to stress over and sometimes get into arguments. 

Family and money can put a strain on a marriage; which is why I’m happy Jen Hemphill is here on the show. She’s an accredited financial counselor, author, and the host of Her Dinero Matters podcast.

In this episode we’ll get into:

  • how to decide whether lending loved ones is really helping them or enabling
  • ways you can assist them without loaning money
  • how you can work out a loan with less stress

Hope this episode helps!

Resources to Deal with Family and Finances

If you two want to make managing your money easier, here are some helpful tools, books, and apps available.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

Meet Jen Hemphill of Her Dinero Matters

Her Dinero Matters is a bilingual podcast for women who want to become reinas of their money and love their dinero more.

You will hear down-to-earth interviews and panel discussions from la comunidad Latina as well as solo episodes sharing simple actionable tips and strategies which you can implement right away!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

Learn how you can stay on top of your money with some of the best apps while also protecting your finances, privacy, and data!

Finding the Best Money Apps for Couples

Chances are if you’re listening to this podcast you do a lot of your banking and finances digitally. 

In a survey by Federal Reserve Bank, they found that 71% of bank customers regularly use online banking and 43% use mobile

For us, the convenience is hard to beat. I can do pretty much everything I need from home or my phone, including depositing checks, scheduling payments, and transfers. 

I believe the last time I had to step into a branch was for the notary a few years ago.

The other side of living in a world with digital banking is that we have to be savvy about securing our finances and data. 

Data breaches, phishing, and more sophisticated scammers happen and are out there, so how do you take advantage of the new apps and options out there?

There’s a lot to cover so today I’m happy to have two experts on. 

We have David Jamshid, Vice President Of Software Development at Coastal Credit Union. We also have Sam Shutz co-founder of Honeyfi on. 

In this episode we’ll get into:

  • Key ways you can secure your accounts so you can guard your data and finances
  • The pros and cons of free and paid apps
  • Top apps out there for couples to manage their money as a team

Hope you enjoy! 

Resources to Bank Digitally

Here are some resources we mentioned in the episode as well as some other handy articles to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

They also have competitive rates on their business checking and savings accounts!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.


Carla Titus shares the realities of running a profitable business from home and how she and her husband created a system that fits their goals and family life!

The Realities of Starting a Side Hustle from Home

Nowadays it’s become more common for couples and families to diversify their income.

Whether it’s because they looking to knock out some debt, save up for a house or another goal, or they want to pivot their career, couples are looking at side hustles. 

We’ve had several episodes about the essentials of starting a side business, but one of the biggest struggles many have is sustaining it. 

Whether it’s working around your family or day job, the reality is you only have so much time. How do you make it work? How can you start and build a business? 

Carla Titus is on the show today to share her expertise and her story. 

She is the CEO of Wealth and Worth where she uses her over ten years of corporate financial planning, analysis, strategy, and startup CFO experience to help entrepreneurs take control of their finances and level up their business.

In this episode we’ll get into:

  • Finding not that balance, but the flow between family and your side hustle
  • When to outsource 
  • how to get the pricing right – many entrepreneurs struggle with this

Hope you enjoy!

Resources for Launching a Side Hustle

Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

They also have competitive rates on their business checking and savings accounts!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.


As wonderful as the idea of a side hustle is, the toughest part is trying to figure out which is the best fit for you.

Learn how to pick the right one for you so you can grow your stash and hit your money goals faster!

One common challenge couples have on their path to financial freedom is the plateau they encounter after they have optimized their expenses.

They’ve switched providers, dropped necessary bills, and have regular check-ins to make sure they are getting the best deals.

The initial rush of seeing their bills go down has passed. They want to do more and speed things up with their goal.

Earning more money would be wonderful, but plenty of people don’t want to take on a second job just for money.

Part of the reason they want to be financially independent is to have more freedom and time.  They want something that gives them income, is flexible with hours and location, and maybe work they enjoy.

Sounds to good to be true? Maybe not.

Starting a side hustle can be a solution.

How a Side Hustle Can Help You

For sake of clarity, think of side hustles as part-time entrepreneurship.

You are building up an income stream on a service or product that you can provide with a limited amount of time.

It can be passive or you can devote some time for the projects.

Some side hustles can become careers or full income streams, but for most, they can be a nice boost in the budget.

Besides the money, there are some other benefits to diversifying your income with another pursuit. A few of my favorites are:

  • Refining and honing your current skillset
  • Broadening your professional network and projects
  • Using your talents to help a non-profit that moves you

As wonderful as the idea of side hustle is, the toughest part is trying to figure out which is the best fit for you.

Popular Side Hustles

You can start anywhere, but some of the more popular options include:

  • art and craft creation (think Etsy)
  • freelancing with your current professional skills
  • mobile apps
  • niche consulting  (like my Fiverr hustles)
  • self-publishing

You may be looking at the list and seeing some ideas that jump at you. And that’s great.

The next step is going from an idea to making a profitable venture.

Finding the Right Side Hustle for You

Jumping in is tempting – after all, it’s just a side hustle – but it more often than not just leads you to waste time and making no money.

The name may throw some off, but treating it like a business and completing your due diligence can give you a huge edge.

There are two sides to the equation with creating a profitable business:

  1. What you have to offer
  2. What your clients/customers need

Once you clearly define both, you can considerably narrow down your options.

Let’s start with you. What are your skills, strengths, and interests?

  • Skills: What are you good at? If you are a software developer, for example, what languages are you a master in?
  • Strengths: What are your advantages with projects? Are you a good organizer? Can you handle managing a remote team spread throughout the world?
  • Interest: Or as the internet likes to say ‘What are your passions?’ If you’re still stumped, look at how you spend your free time. You may have a hobby that could translate into a money-making business.

Write them all down. See if you can take the top picks in each category to find a niche that suits you.

Now, let’s get inside your potential client.

Besides being able to pay (I know you wrote that down!), what do you know about them?

What’s their biggest headache? What are they stressed over? Be as specific as possible.

Take these two lists and create a list of three or so side hustles that fit your talents.

Building a Side Hustle

Now for the fun part – starting and growing your business.

The great news is that now is a wonderful time to begin.

There are plenty of resources and opportunities out there to help you get up to speed.

When I began a few years back, one resource that helped me was Chris Guilbeau’s Unconventional Guides.

Long story short – as he traveled the world he’s designed systems and guides (some times in collaboration with others) to help people create location independent income streams.

Another fantastic resource is Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation.

If you want to hear more check out the podcast and hear Nick openly share about what it takes to build a side hustle.

He also shares some of his favorite productivity tools for work.

Thoughts on Starting a Hustle

I’d love to hear from you about your ventures. What side hustles do you run? How are they helping you with your goals?

This episode was originally released in November 2015. The show notes have been updated in March 2020.