GUEST POST: How are we doing?

Elle Martinez

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Published on 06-21-2019

Categories: Articles

One challenge that we face with creating and following through on a financial plan is that many of us are dealing with several goals at the same time.

Between family, work, friends, home projects, and more, our money, time, and attention is pulled in many directions.

Being so busy can mean that it’s easy for us to not stay on top of important things like finances.

Sure, we have a basic budget - bills have to get paid- but we’re not making the progress we really want to make.

So how can you stay on top of your finances while still having a life (and enjoying it)?

This week on the podcast I had the pleasure of chatting with Cathrine Bryant, a financial advisor at Coastal’s Wealth Management available through CFS1 about how couples can create a financial plan that fits them.

I want to share some low tech, easy solutions that have been around for a while and move on to fintech options you can download on your phone.

Afterward, I’ll offer some tips on how you can work together to reach your biggest life and financial goals faster. 

Pen and Pad

Believe it or not, I hear from people who love this method. They don’t want to sign up for another app or service.

Most times this system works because they’re trying to track one or two specific expenses, like eating out and shopping at stores like Target or Wal-Mart where it’s hard to categorize spending.

If you know your money leaks, then this could be an easy solution for you. You may find that jotting it down and reviewing it once a week is easier for you.

Checking Register

Don’t laugh, but even though I’m a personal finance writer, it’s been years since I used my checking register.

I’m showing my age, but I remember my mom showing me how it works and my grandma showing me some ‘tricks’ she did to save more like rounding up expenses and every month transferring that difference into savings. #OGmoneyhecker

While most couples I’ve interviewed haven’t messed with their register in years (they’ve pretty much gone paperless), some choose to use a spreadsheet version of this on their home computer.


Ah, spreadsheets. I’m not going to lie - these are my personal favorites. Spreadsheets offer a customized solution that can track your budget fairly easily.

The old downside was having your bank data pulled into it manually, but not there are fantastic options like Tiller that do that for you.


Right now there so many options with money management apps, each with their own advantages.

I can’t name them all, but here are a few key ones to check out:

  • Personal Capital:If you have several accounts between the two of you, Personal Capital can make it easy to get a bird eye’s view fairly easily of all of them.
  • Mint: I believe this was the first app we used when we started out with managing our money. Mint is a visually based free budget app that has handy features like goal tracking.
  • EveryDollar: If you’re a Dave Ramsey fan or like to use a zero-based budget, this app is the perfect fit. There’s a free and paid version that can help you easily budget for the month.
  • Zeta: If you two want to keep one another in the loop with money, look at Zeta as it was created for couples to manage their money together. You two decide much much info you share and set goals as a team.
  • You Need a Budget (YNAB): YNAB is more a complete system for watching your budget. Besides the app, there is a way of budgeting that is waved into the community. It can be a game changer if you’re not a natural budgeter.

Make Money a Part of Your Routine

No matter what method you use, whether it's an app or old school like pen and paper, the keys for success is to be consistent with recording and review it regularly.

One solution that can keep finances less stress and still productive is going on money dates.

Go out for an evening (or make it a lunch date). Before you get into the number (like your budget), though, start with talking about your goals.

What are you trying to accomplish this year? In the next few years? And beyond?

Nailing down what you’re working towards is the first step. You can use your app, spreadsheets, notes, whatever to see how you’re doing now.

When you have those two key points, you can then starting a plan and a budget that fits your goals, your personalities, and your circumstances.

When your budget is aligned to what you truly value, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Financial Check-ups

As you two are working together with your finances, you may find that you’d want to get a financial expert to help you reach your goals faster or streamline your system.

After you pay off your non-mortgage debt, for example, you may want to significantly increase your investments. Which accounts should you contribute towards?

Having a financial advisor can help you not only achieve your long term goals but also help you optimize your finances os you can enjoy your money now as well.

Many people assume you have to have a certain net worth or amount of assets before you can tap into this expertise, but that’s not so with Coastal.

Their wealth services teams happily serve all members, no matter where they are at with their financial journey.

If you want to sit down with one of their advisors and create a plan that fits you and your family, please check out what their team offers!

Elle Martinez is the creator of Couple Money, a personal finance podcast and site focused on helping couples get on the same page, dump their debt faster, start building wealth together. 

  1. Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS; are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Coastal Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.



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