Getting on the Same $ Page with Grant Gallagher

Getting on the same money page with your partner isn’t easy. Grant Gallagher talks about how to get started and find long-term success!

Jun 14, 2024 | Blogs, Podcast

About the Episode

We focused on the getting on the same money page as your partner, why it’s such a difficult thing, how to understand your money personality, what to do when there is an income disparity, embracing your feelings about money, and how to create habits around it, with Grant Gallagher, Head of Financial Wellbeing with Affinity Federal Credit Union.      

Listen to hear a difference-making tip on the importance of communication and action!

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George Grombacher

George Grombacher


Grant Gallagher

Grant Gallagher


Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
grant, welcome back to get us started. Give me two truths and a lie, please.

Grant Gallagher 0:08
All right, you got it, George. First one. I’m a proud papa of twin four year old girls. I’ve been named Top 100, financial advisor by Investopedia. And I’m a tech and beer enthusiast as well as a hobbyist Brewer.

george grombacher 0:26
Well, those are all excellent. And you think because you’re back on the show that I would know the answer to all of these, but but I don’t. I don’t I don’t. I’m going to say that the first one, you’ve got twin four year olds is the

Grant Gallagher 0:38
lie. You know, I’m not proud of them whatsoever. Just kidding. No, yeah, I am very, very proud of them. They drive me a little crazy some days. But you know, I love them nonetheless. And it’s funny. I do like to share that I have twins quite often because you can always tell when there’s another parent of multiples based on the reaction. Because if they are, in fact a parent of multiples, they go Oh, are you okay? And everybody else goes. Oh, that’s neat.

george grombacher 1:10
That’s so funny. Yeah. Well, that’s certainly the truth. All right. So which, which one was the lie?

Grant Gallagher 1:14
So I’m surprised you didn’t pick up on this. Because you are, in fact, named one of the top 100 financial advisors by Investopedia. I hear four years in a row. So I stole that from you. Okay,

george grombacher 1:26
fair enough. What’s actually five?

Grant Gallagher 1:30
All right. Read no bio. Sorry.

george grombacher 1:32
I think that you ought to be on that list. For sure. Okay. Fair enough. So you are a a tech and beer enthusiast. Yeah,

Grant Gallagher 1:39
yeah. I, all my life been love technology, love games. You know, and then at some point, I learned that you can brew your own beer. And I thought that was a really cool process. And, you know, the bug bit me.

george grombacher 1:53
Yeah. Okay. So you have twins? Did the I need to brew my own beer come after that?

Grant Gallagher 2:02
You know, there hasn’t been a lot of free time in the last four years. So yeah, a lot of a lot of my hobbies do in fact, predate them. But I’m starting to pick that back up a little bit more.

george grombacher 2:16
It is a chicken in the egg kind of affair. It’s like, I’m not saying that children. I have three that children make me want to have a beer. But children make me want to have a beer.

Grant Gallagher 2:25
So anyway, you don’t you don’t need to, but it helps

george grombacher 2:29
100% 100% All right, excellent. Well, well done. You got me. And welcome back. It’s good to see you. What is what is top of mind for you, grant.

Grant Gallagher 2:40
So you know, those those of you that, listen to me last time I was on on on your lifeblood podcast, it’s no surprise that financial well being is always top of mind. For me, it’s something that I’m always looking at, always thinking about. But you know, today, instead of looking at it from an individual perspective, you know, it is something I want to think about from a couples perspective. You know, and for those of you listening, that aren’t familiar with it, financial well being is the emotional side of your finances. You know, it’s how they make you feel, it’s if you’re optimistic, and it’s, you know, if you feel like your money is enabling you to reach your dreams, or is it just a constant source of stress. And I mean, unfortunately, for a lot of people, it is, in fact, just that source of stress, they don’t know what to do about it, they don’t know where to go to have that conversation, or who to talk to. But for many people, that is something they need to do as a couple. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic partner, it doesn’t matter if it’s a roommate, could be a family of many people. But the reality is you need to have some sort of openness, some sort of conversation, some sort of just plan with whoever your finances impact in your life. There’s always a money dynamic when it comes to people, some people are hands off, some people are hands on. But really, when it comes together as a shared finances situation, it can get messy. And really, when that messiness occurs, there’s impacts to your financial well being you’re going to be stressed, you’re going to be confused. It’s not going to be a great place to be. So, you know, let’s be honest about it. Everyone manages their finances differently. Some, especially when it comes to shared finances. Some people look at it from a completely separate approach. You know, they completely separate their accounts, they separate their finances, that works for them. If that works great. More often, you see some commingling and there’s, you know, one of the one of the partners is the one that manages those funds. That’s typically what I hear the most of and that’s most of what my advice will apply to today. But really, the good news is Is that one’s pretty easy to navigate? As well as there are opportunities where people are, you know, they’re completely both involved, they’re actively involved, they work together, they they do all commingling and that that’s kind of the ideal state that most people should be in where they know what’s going on, there aren’t any surprises, they’re having active conversations about what they’re doing. Because at the end of the day, a lot of the time it is coming from a shared pool of money from both of your incomes. And you should both have some sort of say, in what’s happening with that money. So, you know, I mentioned that this can really apply to any sort of shared financial situation roommates, not romantic relationships. But really anybody that you are doing a shared financial decision with and that can extend to, you know, maybe a friend group, maybe you guys are going on on a trip or going out to dinner, and need to split that transparency and openness and having that conversation is key. That’s that’s really how you’re going to avoid any sort of issues. So I’m hoping today we can dig into that and make sure your listeners walk away feeling a little bit better about their finances

george grombacher 6:13
are love it, there’s so much good stuff there. So much difficult stuff, so much important stuff in I was cracking jokes about how kids make beer better, one way or another. But the reality is that when we become grownups, then all of a sudden, we have so many new grown up obligations, when you buy a home or you’re cohabitating with somebody, that’s a lot, then you have children. And then it’s even more it’s, it’s has a chaos feature to it. And I wonder if where my financial life is on my list of priorities as a single person, and then all of a sudden, we have all this chaos. And now it’s pushed down because I’ve got other stuff going on. And that just adds to this complexity.

Grant Gallagher 6:55
Yeah, you know, it’s like, you’re always gonna get distracted by the loudest problem in the room, right? You’re very easily distracted, a lot of people then D prioritize their finances, they don’t make it a priority. They don’t set goals, they don’t think about their financial future. And kind of when you ignore it, it’s not going to go away, it’s just going to devolve into chaos a little bit. Now, you know, folks that have enough means the good news is, is they can usually survive in that state. It’s not it’s not pretty, it’s not optimal, but they can at least survive. But those that are in more of a paycheck to paycheck situation, that can fall apart really quickly. So it’s really important that you don’t lose sight of it, that you’re having those conversations. One thing that that my wife and I do on a weekly basis is we have family meetings on the weekend, we talk about our upcoming week, we talk about what’s going on, we talk about our priorities. And if there’s anything in terms of finances that we need to talk about, we bring that up there. You know, and that’s one of the things that’s really important is you just you have to be open and honest about the finances. And you have to have your own financial goals. You have to you have to have those goals. And you have to share them and talk about them. Because how is your partner supposed to know what’s important to you, if you don’t tell them, they’re not mind reader’s be great if they were, I mean, well, maybe not. Sometimes, but most of the time, you know, you hope that they know what you want, what’s important to you, and what you expect. But a lot of times they don’t. So it’s important that you communicate that. And that’s good for your own financial well being and good to avoid any sort of strife when you’re working on plans together. But then you also need to figure out goals together, you need to as a as a single unit, have financial goals. And you need to come together, talk about that, talk about what’s important. And set those goals because, again, you each have to have a piece of the puzzle, you each have to have some part of saying it, if it’s not important to you, if it doesn’t matter to you, you’re not going to work towards it, it’s just going to fall by the wayside, and nobody’s ever going to work towards it. And unless you set those expectations and those goals, you’re really just kind of shooting in the dark. You really want to have optimism to what you’re working towards, and see some progress. And again, a huge source of financial stress that we have is because we don’t know what our loved ones expectations are. We we stress about disappointing them or letting them down or not, you know, meeting what they want. But we never actually asked them in the first place what it is, you know, what matters to them? What do they care about? What do they want to get out of your financial goals? Is it going on a vacation every year? Great. Five years from now, do you want to redo your kitchen or move? Great? You have to have that conversation you have to understand what matters to both you because if If you didn’t have that conversation, if you didn’t care about redoing your kitchen in five years, maybe you can come to consensus say, well, maybe we should do this instead. And that can be 10 years from now. Or maybe the other one actually is planning wants to move in the next few years and redoing the kitchen is a waste of money. So unless you have those conversations, you’re not going to know you’re going to have, you know, just random thoughts of potential perceived notions of what they actually want, or what matters to them. And sometimes, unfortunately, you can be way off, and that can be stressful.

george grombacher 10:32
No doubt about that. It’s my experience of why we have interpersonal or just strife in a relationship. It’s it’s not meeting expectations. And if I don’t know what I expect from myself, why would I know what to expect from somebody else. And he talked about well being be how we been how we feel about money. Yeah. And I mean, it’s hard, it’s hard for others to use me, it’s hard for me, it was hard for me 10 years ago, to articulate how I really felt about money, even though I was working in personal finance. And I was doing a lot of dumb stuff with money. So I had shame, and I was embarrassed about it. And then I get together with Emily, who’s now my wife, and she’s very, very organized. So early on, it was hard for us to talk about it, because I had that, those feelings around it. So I wanted to avoid it. And I imagine that’s probably not uncommon.

Grant Gallagher 11:28
It is absolutely not uncommon. So many people, you know, they they mess up once and they think that there’s some sort of social outcast. The reality is, most people make some sort of financial mistake at some point. And as long as you don’t just ignore it, or stick your head in the sand and hope that it solves itself. You can fix it, you can fix it, it might take some time might take some energy. But there’s very few things in the financial world that you have reached the point of no return where you can’t solve it. And a lot of the things that we’ve seen when it comes to finances, is if you have somebody there on your side, motivating you helping you cheering you on, you’re that much more likely to stay the course, stay to your budget, work towards your goals. So you know, not only are you not going to be seen as this outcast, or this failure, because you made one sort of financial mistake, by being open and discussing this with your partner, you’re motivating yourself, you’re having a true leader, you’re getting you know that much more support to get you where you need to be. And, you know, let’s be honest, sometimes our partners do, in fact, know us better than ourselves. And when you say, hey, let’s do this. They know, you, that sounds like a good idea now. But what if we did this instead, I think you’ll like that better. And it’s just a good opportunity to have that conversation and be open and transparent about it. Because let’s let’s be honest, that you’re never going to have enough money to do everything you want. So be intentional, and make the most of what you do.

george grombacher 13:05
Yeah, yeah, I think that that’s really powerful. And so the starting point is because I don’t want to try to boil the ocean, I don’t all of a sudden want if I have not been if I’ve got a budget, and I’m tracking my cash flow, but I haven’t done a lot of plans necessarily as an individual. And now all of a sudden, I’m supposed to be on the exact same page with my partner, whoever it might be. How do we like just what are the starting points? Is it? Hey, here’s how I like Grant, how do you feel about money? Like to just walk me through maybe some of those initial conversations you talked about having a money conversation with with with your wife on a weekly basis? How do we sort of enter into this?

Grant Gallagher 13:46
Well, first off, you need to understand their money personality? Are they is money a source of stress for them? Do they track their finances down to the penny? Do they consider themselves a spender or a saver? These are all important things that should be factored into what you’re doing when you’re coming together and creating that common set of goals, creating that common budget. Because that’s the other piece to it too. You are at some point going to need to create the plan to achieve those goals. And that’s going to require budgeting and no nobody ever enjoys the act of budgeting. But the reality is it serves a very good purpose and is a very good tool to help you reach those goals. You know, one of the things that we’ve seen before is if somebody is a spender and somebody is a saver, there’s obviously going to be a little bit of a misalignment there. So you have a conversation and figure out ways to use the person who is the spender their attributes to your advantage, you know, in something like that is usually a spender isn’t just out there. They don’t like to just burn money. They like to shop they like to look for deals. They like to look for things for that. So you put that to work. You have them do the grocery shopping You have them run the errands. If there’s a large purchase that you’ve both agreed on, you put them in charge of doing the shopping and the research and all of that. So they still get to get that gratification of hitting the buy button. But it’s something that’s planned, and not a surprise, and won’t get you into any sort of trouble. Now, this is of course, assuming that they don’t have some sort of larger issue at hand. And they’re a shopaholic and super impulsive and wound up, you know, 1000s of dollars in debt. But that is a nother conversation for a different day.

george grombacher 15:33
I think that that’s great. Just understanding how I money personality, how I like to interact with money. Because to your point, it’s not like all of a sudden, I’m just going to be a totally different person, just because I’m now in a relationship with somebody. I imagine also that it’s going to be 99% of the time, unless you have two people who are together doing the exact same job that one partner is going to be making more money than the other one. How do you think about that?

Grant Gallagher 15:59
Well, I mean, realistically, it really shouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s a common budget, it’s common finances, everybody contributes in their own ways, and in different ways. And, you know, if you’re not treating that individual, as an equal, and you know, trying to prioritize your own goals, you’re probably going to set yourself up for failure, because your partner is not going to be motivated to work towards what you’re outlining. If it’s purely just to support yourself in what you want. You have you have to reach common ground, you have to be open and talk about it. And listen, if you are the breadwinner, and you feel like you do deserve a little bit more, talk about what what you can do to you know, maybe a couple times a year splurge on something, you know, that’s a good way to reward yourself for being the one that’s pulling in a little bit more income. And as long as you talk about it, plan for IT budget, it shouldn’t be any issue.

george grombacher 17:00
Appreciate that. I think that that’s I think that that’s awesome, in terms of in terms of financial know how I guess just financial literacy, it’s also not obvious that everybody’s going to come into the relationship with the same understanding of how money works.

Grant Gallagher 17:19
Absolutely. And really, you’re going to face knowledge gaps in any relationship. It’s important that you know where you can go to to get good advice. That’s really key, because there is a lot of bad advice out there, especially on social media. So it’s really key that you both agree on one true source of information. And you know, typically, I encourage people to connect with their credit union, assuming their credit union member. But really, you need to find a way to get that information and knowledge because, you know, the financial product space over the last decade plus has changed dramatically. I mean, anybody who’s gone through the home buying process, knows that it’s very different now versus what it looked like 10 years ago, even auto lending has changed a little bit. So what you may have known, the last time you went through that experience, might not be true anymore. And it’s always good to have some sort of resource that you can tap into to get that education and know that it’s vetted up to date, true and trustworthy.

george grombacher 18:26
I appreciate that. And from a division of labor standpoint, for lack of a better term, do you find that somebody is going to be driving this process, somebody’s going to be in charge of the budget or somebody we work on together?

Grant Gallagher 18:44
You know, it really depends on the personalities at play. Some people love control, and they want to have control those purse strings, and they want to be the one actually, you know, tracking everything. And somebody might be the complete opposite. It really just depends on on the personalities at play. But it’s important that you do have that conversation and define who plays what role. Because if you do have to, to control freaks, it might be a little difficult to figure out how you’re going to divide that up. But it’s important that you figure out how you can make that work.

george grombacher 19:20
Yeah. Thanks. Certainly, we need to be on the same page as to where we’re going actual up in the budget and updating it. I don’t think probably both people have to be working on that to your point. But we need to be rowing in the same direction.

Grant Gallagher 19:37
Yeah. And it’s anytime you’re going to make that update or that change. You need to have that conversation. Because what you decided on six months ago, I mean, your situation will be completely different. Somebody could have had a job change. You could have some sort of new big expense. Maybe you had an emergency and you blew your emergency expense, your emergency fund and now you need to rebuild that It’s just important to revisit it on a fairly regular basis. because life happens, you know, it’s very rare that you go many years and nothing changes. Everything

george grombacher 20:11
is exactly as we planned. It’s perfect, especially, especially when there’s children involved and all the other things that go along with being a grown up. So you talked about how you try and have a money conversation on a weekly basis. And that’s my wife and I have a weekly meeting as well, on Sundays. We just talked about our schedule and what’s going on. And then we at this point, review the budget and more in depth financial stuff on a quarterly basis. What are your thoughts on as people are getting started that frequency?

Grant Gallagher 20:42
Yeah, you know, it doesn’t have to be every week. But I find that that makes it easier and more digestible, because it’s, you know, a quick five minute conversation versus a half an hour, you know, I find quarterly is good to align on shorter term goals, you know, something that you’re planning to do in the next year. Because as that approaches, obviously, you want to make sure you’re on track and make sure nothing’s changed. But for Yeah, the really big stuff, the five year goals, the 10 year goals, that’s where, you know, twice a year is perfect. But really, it depends on you want to be more frequent at the start to make sure that things are working, and you can course correct, then down the road, once you kind of figure out what that cadence looks like for you and make sure that everybody’s following up on the roles and meeting those expectations. And actually following through on what you talked about, then you can, you know, reduce the frequency, but I wouldn’t do it any less than, you know, twice a year for big things, and monthly for smaller and shorter things like

george grombacher 21:47
it in terms of talking about if it’s not a a romantic partners, if it’s just buddies, or if it’s roommates, what are some of the ways that you found that you have successful interactions when it comes to money? similar or different?

Grant Gallagher 22:08
I mean, usually, you know, it depends on your relationship, and just how open you are with them. But I mean, I know with my friends, it’s usually a pretty, pretty straightforward conversation of, you know, we’re gonna go do this, how much are you willing to spend? Everybody says yea or nay. And we move on? You know, we don’t get too too touchy feely about it. But we all agree and have that expectation. And listen, if anybody says, No, I can’t afford that, or they want to spend less. We’re fine with that, too. You know, I think it’s easier with friends, because there isn’t quite so much emotion involved. And usually you’re not deciding on some big life changing decision. But when it’s something bigger, like maybe you’re going on a trip, you know, week long vacation, that does need a little bit more of an in depth conversation of Okay, is everybody on the same page here? Are we are we doing everything that everybody wants to do? One of the tricks that I’ve used in my vacation planning with my family is asking everybody to give a top three of what they want to get out of that vacation, you know, is a dinner out is it going to a certain location is a specific activity. You don’t always get all of those. But you can usually at least prioritize the top one or two and make sure that everybody’s getting something out of it that they really want a solid.

george grombacher 23:30
Grant, thank you so much for coming on. We are ready for that difference making tip. What do you have for us?

Grant Gallagher 23:37
All right. Well, thanks again for having me, George. You know, really, the important thing to know is your financial well being depends on your willingness to take action, and to talk about it. You need to have those conversations about your goals and your finances with your partner. And you need to listen. During that conversation when they share there’s if you don’t have those goals, or an idea of what that future financial state looks like. You need to set it figure it out what it looks like one 510 years from now.

george grombacher 24:07
I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Oh, all right, medication and action, communication and action. I’d like it. Grant again. Thanks for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they how can they connect and engage? Thanks

Grant Gallagher 24:21
again, George. I’m actually a co host on the well being and your wallet podcast. And you can find the well being in your wall podcast and more for myself and affinity Federal Credit Union at Affinity

george grombacher 24:34
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show, grant your appreciation, share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to affinity Check out all the great resources at the credit union and then check out the well being and your wallet podcast and get more grant Gallagher. all that great stuff. Thanks, Ken Graham.

Grant Gallagher 24:56
Thanks, George. Thanks for having me.

george grombacher 24:58
I only friendly reminder is never going to be anybody more interested in your financial success than you are maybe your spouse act accordingly



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