Couples can fight over a ton of different things — chores, habits, or sex, for example. But no topic incites more tiffs than money. In fact, according to a recent survey rolled out by Fidelity, 1 in 5 couples say that arguing about money poses their greatest struggle in a relationship. What's more, nearly half (44%) say that they quibble over financial matters at least once in a while.
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So it's pretty incredible when a couple with different perspectives around money don't just get over their initial hiccups, but reach a point where they're so much on the same page that they want to help others reach financial wellness.
Such is the story of Talaat and Tai McNeely. The co-founders of the blog and podcast His & Her Money were high school sweethearts and actually started out pretty financially incompatible.
Here's their origin story, along with their favorite tips for getting started on tackling your finances:
When Tai and Talaat McNeely first got hitched, Tai took on the role of household CFO. It made sense, as she was naturally the more financially savvy of the pair. She had a high credit score and no debt. Talaat, on the other hand, had a not-so-great credit score and debt.
Unfortunately, resentment was starting to build up between the two of them. “There was a lot of frustration between me and my husband, because I felt like I was doing all of the heavy lifting,” says Tai. “I felt like he took it for granted because he knew how much money he got paid. But I was telling him, ‘This is what we have in the budget, and it didn't add up.’ And because he didn't have his eyes on the numbers, he wasn't aware of really why the budget looked the way that it did.”
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On Talaat’s end, he felt like he was being treated like a child and getting an allowance. While Tai was busy paying off debt and putting money toward their family’s savings, the only two pieces of information Talaat had were his income and his spending money. “It felt like a mother-son relationship,” says Talaat. “I was just waiting on the sidelines, and she was doing all the hard work, and I was complaining."
When Talaat started paying more attention to what was going on and got more involved with their money, that's when they turned a corner.
When Tai and Talaat decided to work together on managing their finances, that's when a major shift started happening.
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"The main difference is now, once Tai is done with the planning, she loops me in and says, 'Take a look. What's your feedback? What do you think? Are we missing?'" says Talaat. "So now I have a chance to give my input, and I now have the chance to see the full context of our financial plan and the direction that we're going with our finances."
“Sometimes people hear the word ‘team’ inside the context of a relationship, and they automatically assume that that means that you do your half and I do my half,” Talaat says. “But team doesn't automatically make it a 50/50 situation. Sometimes your team looks like a 70/30 or 60/40 split. It's just that it cannot be a 100 to zero split. But the concept is going to be different for different relationships.”
Then something really cool happened: Talaat started to see the point of what Tai was doing, and as an active participant in the major decisions with their money, started to get excited with what they were working toward.
After they figured their marriage and money journey, people started to take notice and reach out to the McNeelys for help.
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"We invited people into our home to sit on our couches, and we taught them everything we knew," says Talaat. "We then decided that we should probably take what we knew and share it with the world by starting our platform — His & Her Money."
To date, through their platform, Tai and Talaat have helped others with their money struggles by way of educational content such as podcasts, YouTube videos, articles, and a private mentorship community.
So what's the biggest mistake people take when it comes to getting their finances in shape?
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"Most times they overthink it, or they think that they have to have it all figured out before they take the first step," says Talaat. "Perfection delays destiny. People need to just start, and as they walk it out they will learn and grow along the way."
To improve your money situation, the McNeelys suggest applying the three A's: Acknowledge, Accept, and Apply.
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Yup. That's right. Change begins with owning up to the reality of your situation — no matter how hard that might be.
"Acknowledge that there needs to be a change, and that what you've been doing has not been working," says Tai. "Accept that you are part of the problem and that you are also the solution. You have what it takes to turn your finances around. And they apply what you learn."
And Tai adds a gentle reminder: "These days, educational resources are literally at your fingertips," she says. "Learn and apply, and watch your financial health turn around for the better." Besides His & Her Money, check out Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial, Tiffany Aliche of The Budgetnista, and investing expert Amanda Holden. And of course, there are some great folks to check out and lessons to learn on Money TikTok (but always take social media advice with a grain of salt).
No matter what your current situation, how behind or clueless you feel, or how much or little financial know-how you have, you can certainly turn things around.
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"Your story doesn't have to have a bad ending," says Tai. "You can take any situation you have around your finances, and turn it into a positive one. There are people who love you who are watching you, and you'll be able to help others just by taking the first step in your personal finance journey. Just start!"
Are you working toward a money goal with your partner? Share one step you can take to help you get there in the comments.
And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.