Marriage changes a lot of things – and it can have a significant impact on how you deal with your finances. Marriage can contribute to your financial empowerment too, but not many of us are taught about how we can actually do this successfully and easily.
Before I married my second husband, I was a single mom of young twin-girls, and I was doing great in my career and finances. In fact, I was a Vice President of Programs & Services working with Fortune 100 companies and top government agencies, owned a penthouse condominium, had no debt, and my salary was twice as much money as my husband-to-be.
Shortly before we got married, my father passed away and so much changed in my career and life priorities. One of those changes, once I got married, was to leave the technology sector and my lucrative executive job to work as a Senior Vice President at a not-for-profit organization taking a 40 percent pay cut in my salary.
It took me some time to realize that in addition to a reduced pay in my career, I had also given up some part of my financial empowerment when I got married. The irony was that although I was the “CFO and COO” of the family by managing the household, paying the expenses, taking care of the children and our home renovation projects, something had gone off-kilter with my capacity to generate more money for me. My husband, however, was continuously increasing his income.
I sometimes joke that I am the executive that finally got her “groove back.” I love business and creating money, it took a few years to realize I had (somewhat unconsciously) decided that being married meant changing my priorities to make sure my husband was the leader of the family; empowering his business to make sure he was the main breadwinner. My husband isn’t the kind of man who would ever need or expect that in our relationship, so I knew that I had to change things and enjoy being married and financially empowered.
"There is nothing wrong with changing your priorities and taking on different financial roles in a marriage – in fact, you and your spouse can create more financially together than you ever did as individuals."
It all started with me challenging some of my hidden ideas about money and marriage, and taking pragmatic steps to consciously increase my financial possibilities.
No matter your current financial situation or relationship status, you can expand your financial possibilities both as an individual and within a partnership or marriage – and here are five essential keys to help you get started:
1. Examine your points of view about money and relationships – and prioritize your financial prosperity
There is nothing wrong with changing your priorities and taking on different financial roles in a marriage – in fact, you and your spouse can create more financially together than you ever did as individuals.
Part of getting my financial groove back was examining more closely the points of view I had let subconsciously run the show in my marriage – and honestly asking myself whether those points of view were true for me, or could I change them and allow something different to be created.
Are there places in your life where you have let other people’s points of view about your relationship or marriage limit or stop you exploring your capacities with money? Have you prioritized care of your spouse, family and house, and assumed that you cannot easily have the generation of money as a priority as well?
Even for unmarried women, it is common to prioritize money less and to focus more on the creative and contributive aspects of their business or career. Women can let themselves get stuck in a polarized idea that there is an either/or universe when it comes to care-taking and money-making, and decide they have to or should drop financial priorities when they get married or have a family – when this isn’t the case at all!
You don’t have to give up on your financial priorities and desires. It can be as simple as proactively putting the priority for your financial prosperity back on the table, and then taking some simple actions.
2. Know your expenses and income – to the dollar!
The first part of empowering yourself financially within a marriage is knowing exactly what money is coming in and going out. This clarity is essential because, without it, you won’t know where you are or what to aim for next.
Take time to sit down and write down all your monthly personal and business income and expenses, or get a copy of your profit and loss statement from your accountant.
Give as much attention to knowing the income as the expenses – you need to be aware of both so that you don’t form an untrue picture of what is happening in your financial world.
People often pay more attention to expenses as they see the money being spent, while not really looking at what they are bringing in. A lot of people are surprised at how much money they are actually generating each month, especially if they are running their own businesses. You may already be creating more money than you think!
3. Have financially empowering conversations with yourself and your partner
Money is one of the main sources of argument in relationships. Many couples do not talk about money unless it is around big events like a holiday or buying a house or car, and few couples have the right tools to have proactive conversations about creating with finances in a way that is generative and even fun.
Make time to have a ‘money date’ on a weekly or at least monthly basis to talk about different possibilities with your finances. Have this conversation both with your partner and with yourself.
Ask questions that get you to explore possibilities and new choices for generating money:
- Where are we now? Where would we like to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now?
- What do we desire to add to our lives?
- What other ways can we bring in income we haven’t considered yet?
- What ways could we educate and invest in our future with our money we haven’t considered?
Avoid conversations that are just about budgeting and cost-cutting. There may be expenses that you realize are not contributing to your lives and choose to let them go or reduce them. But keep your attention forward-focussed and generative in outlook, and you will be more likely to take expansive steps towards financial empowerment.
"Give as much attention to knowing the income as the expenses – you need to be aware of both so that you don’t form an untrue picture of what is happening in your financial world."
4. Educate yourselves and each other about money – and enjoy it!
Educating yourself about money can take many forms. You can research the history of money to get an insight into how it works (The Ascent of Money series by the BBC is a great start) and you can also educate yourself on different ways you can invest your money to make it grow.
Prior to our wedding, I educated my husband about diamonds. I taught him about the way diamonds are graded and we selected each diamond on my engagement ring ourselves. In the end, I had a ring that was not only beautiful to me aesthetically, but we had invested in something that will continue to increase in value.
I still buy jewelry as it is one of my favorite ways to invest my money. My husband jokes that I make investments that I can wear, but it works for me and makes me money. That said, I also have a diverse portfolio of stocks, cryptocurrency, and real estate.
Learn about items of value, or ways of using your money to make more money – and let curiosity and enjoyment be your guide!
5. Be the CFO of your life and your marriage
If you were the CFO of your life and in your relationship, what would you choose differently than you are now?
Everyone has different interests and capacities with money and finances – and all of us have an untapped capacity for creating more money and changing our financial worlds. Ultimately, it’s time to explore what works for you in your life and relationship – because it truly is different for everyone.
Continually explore your options and ask more questions to empower you financially in your relationship: Are you using your natural capacities to financially empower you and your marriage? What roles could you each take, and what else could you bring to the table? What are your strengths? What are your partner’s strengths? Where do you both require input, assistance, or more information?
There is no right or wrong way to become financially empowered in your marriage. Just as every couple is unique and every individual is unique, the way you create your financial world independently and together will be different too.
If you are willing to gain clarity on your finances, educate yourself, ask some different questions and have some different conversations about money - and let your curiosity and enjoyment guide you, you will begin to discover what is truly possible in your financial world.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.