Home » Blog » Archives for Couple of Sense

By Couple of Sense

Sarah and Scott are personal finance bloggers and coaches. They have paid off debt, paid for a wedding in cash, bought a house, completed home renovations, gone back to school and handled everything else along the way without going into debt. They want to share how you can do that as well! When they aren't writing or talking about money you can find them at home, working on their home, in their veggie garden, binge watching some TV and snuggling with their cat.
Connect in real time on Twitter: @coupleofsense

How We Are Planning For A Staycation

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Planning For A StaycationI will admit I’m not the best flyer. I guess I’m out of practice. From 2010 to 2013 I was on a plane 4 times, once a year on vacation including international flights. However the thought of heading into a closed space for 3-5 hours with a 1 year old is a bit stressful for us. Scott has vacation time to use and our daughter turns 1 next week so we thought why not hang around the city and take in the sights. So we are planning for a staycation this year.

In the past we have used time off for work around the house like the first part of the basement or our outdoor patio. Not this year. When we first started talking about time off a concern Scott brought up was that he wanted it to actually feel like a vacation instead of just hanging around the house all week. So we are trying to do as much as we can to make it feel like a vacation without flying anywhere.  Here is how we are planning for a staycation. Read more

Cost or Cost Per Year?

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Cost or Cost Per Year?

Big purchases usually mean big costs.  Being budget conscious doesn’t mean that we are cheap.  When it makes sense to do so we are willing to part with hard earned savings.  When I look at a big purchase, I typically will look at how much it is going to cost us right now.  Another way to look at it would be to identify how much use you will get for something and then figure out the cost per year.  This can be a measure of quality of goods, or an investment in eliminating future regret.

The House

Several years ago, Sarah and I bought our current home.  There were certain features that came standard, but quite a few things we wanted were considered upgrades from the builder.  While the house was being built we had our décor appointment set with the developer.  We were told to come with a list of anything we might want, they would provide us a quote for each item and then we would decide what we wanted.

The price of the upgrades was considerably more than fair market value. This is typically when buying a newly built home.  One of our “asks” was for flat ceilings on our 2nd floor.  The standard was popcorn/stucco ceilings because it saved them money on having to properly mud/tape the drywall.  The price tag on this “upgrade” was $3,000.  For perspective that is just over $4.00/square foot of ceiling space.  We could not bring ourselves to justify spending that much money on something that was for aesthetics only.

We have now been in the house for five and a half years, and are hoping to stay for quite a few more.  Even at this point the price tag on that upgrade looked at as a price per year is down to $545 per year.  This has caused some regret on Sarah’s end for not giving the thumbs up to this upgrade.  I still feel it is too much money for what it would have brought to our life.  It certainly is more palatable breaking it down to the cost per year.

Some builders encourage you to add the cost of the upgrades to your mortgage.  You are amortizing them over the same time as your house as a whole.  This means you are paying interest on the costs.  Running the bill up higher over a number of years but it also provides an avenue for people who can’t afford the upgrades to get them away which isn’t a good thing.

The Baby

Babies cost money.  A lot of money.  Spending on the baby is really more about upfront costs than cost per year since most baby items are outgrown inside of a year.  That means that the cost per year is actually higher than the upfront cost.  As I’m writing this article Sarah is going through Ava’s old clothes and organizing them for storage since she has outgrown them all.  Although many of the items were given as gifts or purchased by her grandparents, the cost of this box of clothes is more than $500.00.  Realistically the clothes she wore for less than a couple of months had a higher cost per year than the flat ceilings on the 2nd floor we didn’t spend on.

Shopping for second-hand goods is an obvious solution to this problem.  All parents have the same issue of their children outgrowing clothing so as there is a fairly stable avenue for getting clothes you need now from those who no longer need them. We hope to reuse them in the future to reduce the total cost.

The Car

This one is fresh.  Last year we purchased a used car for Sarah.  We typically buy used cars and run them into the ground while saving up for a replacement over leasing/financing a new car.  Recently we began looking for a replacement car for the one I’m currently driving.  It is a 14-year old vehicle with a body that is starting to fall apart.  The first car we went to see was within budget.  It is only 4 years old currently with relatively low mileage.

This car would likely last a solid ten years, assuming it is mechanically sound.  What makes it difficult to pull the trigger on is the luxury features that drive up the cost of the car (pun intended).  This model has a nice panoramic sunroof which adds between $1,000 and $1,500 to the price tag of the car.  Breaking it down over ten years makes that pill easier to swallow at only $100 to $150/year.  The way I look at it is that the car without the luxury sunroof would last just as long (if not longer).  If the extra cost was for a feature that would extend the life it would be a different scenario.  So at this point we are taking a pass on that car – we’ll see where the hunt takes us to see if we want to go back.

When shopping for a car the quality of the car should hold more weight than the luxury features like leather seats or fancy sunroofs.  Putting your money into a model one year newer, or with 15,000 less kilometers on it will provide better value in the long term.

When you have to spend big money, do you consider the cost over time or just the initial costs?

 

Being Different Requires Determination

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Different Requires DeterminationOften I’m asked why I didn’t take my husband’s name or why my daughter has my last name. It was the right thing for us but it isn’t right for everyone. I don’t particularly feel like I need to answer questions about the details but when you do things that are different than most people or common societal norms people will question it. And question it.

Same goes for personal finance. When you are doing things different from traditional expectations you will probably get a lot of questions. Some will be tame, more curious than anything. And others will be aggressive and may cause you to become defensive. But sometimes people will probe and ask questions that might make you wonder if you are making the right choice. Truly being different requires determination. You know if you are cutting back there are times when the pressures from family, friends and even inside yourself can get to you and make you question your whole plan. It happens to all of us. Read more

Why It Is Important To Me For My Wife To Have Money In Her Own Name

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Last week Sarah wrote a post about why it is important to her to have money in her own name.  This post was not a surprise to me.   It also should be of no surprise that I embrace what she wants fully and completely.  If there is anything I can do to make the woman I love feel even a little bit more secure – I’m all for it.  Having an account that can be used to escape a bad situation is a great idea for all women.  Hiding it is not a good idea, but that may because we talk openly about money.  If there are already red flags in your relationship there may not be a choice but to keep it secret.

Preparation And Expectations Are DIFFERENT

I know a lot of people (sorry I spelt men incorrectly), that would take this type of action by their wives as a threat.  They would assume that if their wife wanted to have money put aside like this it meant she was expecting that at some point she would be subject to abuse in the relationship and needed to prepare for it.  This is flawed logic.  I carry an umbrella with me in my car at all times.  If it rains I’d like to have something to protect myself.  I don’t leave the house every day expecting it to rain, and more often than not it isn’t raining and I have no use for the umbrella.  Preparation for something bad is smart.

Choosing An Amount

This is irrelevant in my mind; whatever amount you feel you need or can should be the target.  We by no means have unlimited funds at our disposal but we do have money put aside for the future.  I know that I will never be a danger to my wife, so that money will never be needed and so therefore I don’t care if it is in her name or my name – I still consider it our money.  There are some things you might want to account for when choosing an amount.   Money for a cab to get to a relative’s house, for a plane ticket if no relatives are close by, or a hotel stay if required.  Money to make sure food is available and if there are children they need to be taken care of as well.  Even a little bit to an account can make a difference over time. If there isn’t any extra money available, this is where it is even more important to have a credit card.

Why A Credit Card

Unfortunately there are things in our life that are realistically achievable only with credit.  In order to get something substantial with credit, you need to already have credit.  Without establishing a credit history, a bank would never provide you with something like a mortgage.  If things go awry between  partners  and the woman  needs to leave – without a credit history it may be an insurmountable task to reestablish a comfortable life.

Why Only The Wife, Why Can’t The Husband Have HIS Own Account?

No problem at all, there is no reason why that can’t be part of the discussion and if you would feel safer in your relationship having money that only you can access that should be something to strive for.  It isn’t unheard of for the husband to encounter abuse from his wife so there is no reason not to get it done.  Just as myself (as a white male), can experience prejudice – a husband can experience abuse.  BUT ask yourself…is THAT really the prevalent issue that plagues our society?   There is a difference between prejudice and oppression.

If this sounds overly righteous, I say TFB.  Not trying to preach, or reach a new level of “woke”…I’m just trying to put it out there that this is a good idea and might actually strengthen your bond, not weaken it.

I’m open to discussing this with anyone who disagrees.  So I ask you as a reader of my post – what would a good reason be to deny this request when it would make someone you love feel more safe/secure?

Scott

Why I Need Money in My Own Name to Feel Safe

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Money in My Own Name to Feel SafeLast week on Twitter I said that women need to have their own money and credit cards in their name only. Lots of people were telling me that in the event of divorce assets would be split in half regardless of which name was on the account. That is unfortunate but not unsolvable. A prenup/postnup could be put in place to keep assets secure. But that wasn’t what I was talking about. I believe that women should have their own money so they are able to feel safe and have money that no one else can access should she need to leave the relationship quickly. Read more

Do You PF In Your PL? Giving Financial Advice to Friends, Family & Co-Workers

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Do You Provide Financial Advice to Friends, Family & Co-Workers?

As a personal finance blogger, and a part of the GPF (Greater Personal Finance) community I am surrounded by tidbits of advice on how to save more, spend less and achieve your financial goals.  Sarah and I have our own opinions on what “the best way to go” is. These opinions are deeply rooted in what works for us.  We acknowledge that what works for us, won’t necessarily work for other couples or singles.  Personal finance is part of my life, but it isn’t all that defines me.  A few close friends are aware that Sarah and I created this blog.  For the most part it remains separate from the rest of my life.  This is a personal choice that I have made for several reasons.

Read more

Life With A Baby: Month 7

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Life With A BabyLife With a Baby Month 7 we went through new teeth, trying to crawl and planning for the baptism.

Monster Baby:

Ava is a bigger than average baby. She is very long and we are often in different size pants vs tops. By 4 months she was wearing 6 month clothing and by 5.5 months she was wearing 9 month clothing. She wasn’t even 8 months and was in 12 month clothing! By this time she was the size the average 1 year old! My poor back! Read more

Female Personal Finance Bloggers You Need to Be Reading

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

female personal finance bloggersHappy Birthday to Us!

Yesterday was our 2 year blog anniversary. So much has changed in our life in the past 2 years. Between Scott’s job loss, reduction in pay, my promotion, baby Ava and my maternity leave we have been through a lot personally. But I don’t see much value in sharing about writing about the blog and how that has changed us. Instead I’m going to share with you the female personal finance bloggers that inspire me every day. Read more

Cheating on Your Financial Diet

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

If you’ve ever been on a diet, especially one of those fad diets, you know all about cheat days.  These are the days where you deviate from your regular diet and eat pretty much whatever you want.  If you are really disciplined, you can have these moments where your choices aren’t the healthiest and then immediately revert to your plan.  Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and weeks or months of hard work can be erased.  It can happen fairly quickly with a weekend of going to town on junk food.  The same goes for a budget, which can be a sort of financial diet.  Just like a diet, there is a potential to cheat on it.

 

Read more

Mistakes I Made In My Career

Follow us! twitterrssinstagramby feather

Mistakes I Made In My CareerIn 2018 I celebrated 10 year at my company. Well not exactly, since I’m currently on maternity and not there at the moment, however it counts all the same. I have been thinking about what I accomplished in 10 years and what I have to look forward to in the future. I feel that I have been in the workforce long enough to dish out some advice to you. Regardless if you are just starting out or have been there for a while take a look at the list below and don’t make the same mistakes I made in my career. Read more