By Shannon Magsam, nwaMotherlode.com mom
Rhonda Porter of Merrill Lynch started the evening off with this hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch with Steve Martin and Amy Poehler:
That broke the ice! I LOVE that skit — it always makes me laugh. Most likely because I can see myself in Steve Martin’s character. “Sounds confusing.”
I won’t be sharing any specific comments from the women who attended (we all agreed: “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”) but were some great take-aways that I know you can appreciate.
Rhonda, our on-call financial advisor for the evening, got the ball rolling by noting that women are surpassing men when it comes to being the country’s top wealth holders. But with great power comes great responsibility, right?
There were a few websites that came up during the conversation that really interested everyone. DebtAnalyzer.com is a cool site because you can plug in your specific credit card figures, payment dates, etc.., the analyzer will tell you when to make payments and how long it will take you to pay everything off. If you have a goal — and a clear path to getting there — sticking to a plan is much easier.
As Rhonda said, it’s easier to race faster when you can “see the finish line.”One mom said she uses Mint.com, a website that reminds her when bills are due. It also shows her how much she’s spending on food, eating out and all the other various expenses that are trackable. I think we’d all be surprised by how much we’re really spending. Do you dare? We’d save some money, I bet!
Rhonda suggested MoneyStrands.com to see how much you spend compared to others, for setting up budgets and other money management “made fun and easy”.When we talked through some of our best ways to manage finances, one woman said she took her mom’s advice and began to “round up” when she wrote down info in her checkbook. So if a purchase was $6.86, she’ll round up to $7 in her register. This leaves a little “slush fund” at the end of each month.
Communication was a topic that almost everyone weighed in on. Rhonda noted that communicating with your spouse or significant other is vital to managing money. If the wife doesn’t pay the bills or manage the family’s finances, she admonished them to: understand the family’s cash flow; know the family’s balance sheet (that includes assets and liabilities); maintain access to all financial documents (including bank account info, insurance policies, tax returns, etc…); build your action plan (for saving, getting out of debt, etc…); and communicate.
She said couples should sit down and talk about what they’ve spent and do some money evaluation at least once a month. Several of the moms said they HATE talking to their spouse about money — it’s so uncomfortable! One good tip: agree with your spouse to always discuss it first before spending money on something above a specific dollar amount. For one mom it was $100 while another said $50 was their watermark.
Along the communications lines, Rhonda noted that both partners should share the stress of money concerns and affairs. It not only keeps the one handling the money from feeling like it’s all on their shoulders — it also keeps the one not seeing the balance from spending money the family doesn’t have.It was a great conversation (so great that we couldn’t get to all the topics). We all left with a few good money ideas and a feeling of being “heard” I believe.
For more info about managing your money from Rhonda, you can e-mail her at email@example.com or call her at 479-254-3137. Motherlode sponsored the money forum, but it was essentially the second meeting of the new Fayetteville Mothers’ Center. If you want to get involved in the Fayetteville Mothers’ Center, their next meeting will be on Dec. 10 at Pages of Parenting, 388 E. Sunbridge, Fayetteville.
For more info about Mothers’ Centers, contact Catherine Wright-Dilbert at 479-935-3389 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.