Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest Blogger: Erin Flynn Jay, author of Mastering The Mommy Track

On Couponing 4 a Difference we've focused on using coupons to help us save money on things we need to buy and on freebies to help us get things we want or need without spending a dime! But there plenty of other things for us to explore to help us improve our financial situations in general. 

Today, guest blogger Erin Flynn Jay, will help us understand how to overcome financial hurdles in our lives. The post comes from a the chapter “Finances: Are We On the Right Path?” from her new book Mastering The Mommy Track - available on  or

Finances: Are We On the Right Path?

Stacy Francis, founder of Savvy Ladies, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women to take control of their finances and achieve a richer life, said something interesting happened in her latest Savvy Ladies telephone conference. When one woman told the group that her husband’s sloppy attitude toward money was so frustrating to her and that she wanted to divorce him for this reason alone, every woman in the group expressed their support. ‘Several of the married women even told her they could relate because they were having similar issues in their marriages,’ Francis said.

Indeed, one of the most common reasons couples split is financial disagreement. Here’s how you can overcome financial hurdles and set a plan for the future with your spouse or partner:

Create a budget. ‘Sit down together, and put your expenses and financial goals on paper. Be realistic, and make sure that sticking to the budget won’t require too much effort,’ said Francis. ‘Remember that budgets are like diets – they never work if they’re unrealistic.’

New York City-based Jeanne Brutman, a fee-based financial planner for business owners and individuals, agrees. ‘Consider the usual: housing, electricity, garbage, water, landline phone, cable, internet, cellular phone, childcare or support, food (grocery, eating at work, ordering in), transportation (car payments, gas, tolls, parking or bus, subway, transit, cab), insurance outside of deductions from paycheck (renters, home, umbrella, car, health, dental/vision, life, disability, Medicare, long-term care, and so forth), debt (car, student loans, credit cards, personal), drug store, prescriptions, pet supplies, home or car maintenance, clothing, dry cleaning, laundry, and lastly charity, entertainment, and so forth,’ she said. ‘Please account for 5 or 10 percent if possible to go towards savings. Do not spend more than 20 percent of what you make on debt. If you only focus on paying off debt, you get what you focus on!’

Hire a professional. The financial experts I spoke to agreed on this. ‘Find a certified financial planner in your area, interview them and pick one that understands where you are in your financial journey,’ said Arnett. ‘Seek out a financial planner who will sit down and prioritize your goals, put money figures next to them, and then show you how to reach those objectives.’

‘A person only has 168 hours a week. 60 to 80 (say 70) are for work, 14 are for eating, 49 are for sleeping, 7 are for personal hygiene, 17 are for housekeeping and food shopping… that leaves 11 hours for other stuff,’ said Brutman. ‘I spend 70 hours a week on my profession and have done that for 10 years. That’s 36,400 hours on financial planning. Get help – we just have more time to get you to the information you need faster.’

Communicate and work together. ‘It seems so basic, but you have to agree that there is a hurdle, what that hurdle is, and then commit to a strategy to get past it. It takes a conscious effort to get past a hurdle, whether it’s financial, emotional, or something else,’ said Arnett. ‘When you agree up front on the hurdle itself and the tactic for overcoming it, then you get strength in numbers. You’re not facing it alone, and that means something.’

Many couples fail to discuss their financial differences. ‘Approach them in a calm, non-threatening way, and focus on finding constructive solutions that both of you agree will work,’ said Francis. ‘Whether you intend it or not, the way you manage your money will affect your spouse as well. Make sure he or she is comfortable with your
spending and investment habits.’

Keep a credit card for emergencies only. ‘As you may have noticed, when you don’t use a card, the issuing bank tends to up your limit to tempt you to use it. You can, but only when you have no other choice,’ advised Francis. ‘Remove from your wallet: all credit cards but one for emergency (defined as life-threatening need such as needing to get towed because of a car accident); and all cash except for $40 that you only use when you cannot use a debit card,’ Brutman advised. ‘For all spending, use a debit card linked to your monthly account.’

Determine what is of most importance. Separate the ‘wants’ from the ‘needs.’ For example, Foss said a need may be funding tuition for your child’s future, while buying the latest trendy clothes from Abercrombie is a ‘want.’ Teach your children by example, she said – by sacrificing a ‘want’ today for a ‘need’ of a college education years down
the road.

Determining what is truly of importance is tough because what may seem important to one person can sound like a discretionary item to another. Take for instance, private school. ‘For many families, it is a priority for their children to attend private school. However, there are public schools children can be sent to for free, not to mention, your tax money already goes there,’ Arnett said. ‘The reality is that during hard times, sometimes gratification has to be delayed.’

Foss advocates you and your spouse create a ‘top ten’ money goal list on your own and then compare the lists with one another. ‘Create a common goal list from the two separate ones. Typically, financial goals are much different from each spouse’s perspective,’ she said. ‘Create a common list – create a sense of financial partnership to work towards your combined list.’

For example, on Foss’ top ten list, she chose to accelerate their mortgage payment to pay off the house in five years rather than 15. Her husband’s goal was to fund his children’s (her stepchildren’s) college education funds. They ended up choosing to downsize their home to reduce the mortgage and create more cash flow, thereby accomplishing
both goals.

About the Author:

Erin Flynn Jay is a writer and publicity expert. Since 2001, Erin has been promoting authors of new books and small businesses in all industries. Erin has expertise in successfully obtaining print, online and broadcast media placements for experts and authors.

Erin's articles have appeared in diverse publications including, MSN Careers, Brandweek, Costco Connection, Opportunity World, Sales and Marketing Excellence, The New York Enterprise Report and Wealth Manager.

Erin received a B.A. in Communication from the University of Scranton in PA and lives in Philadelphia with her family.;

You can order Erin's book at

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  1. These great tips. Thank you so much for sharing them. My tip is to use the 30 day rule whenyou are considering purchasing something that costs more than a few dollars. This rule means that you must wait 30 days and then ask yourself if you still want this item.

    This will give you time to figure about if you really need this item. Is it really necessary? Do you have to get a new item or can you simply repair what you already have?

    During this 30 days, take the time to research what specific item you want to purchase. Read online reviews. Think about what specific features you want the item to have. What features are unnecessary? Also shop around to determine who has the best price for the item.

    Many times after the 30 days is up, you will find that the urge to buy it has passed. Instead of making an impulse buy, you will have saved yourself money simply by waiting.

    I have more tips like this on my blog

  2. Good one Nicole! I find this to be absolutely true. Sometimes we buy things based on our emotions. I am totally guilty. Thankfully it's not always a big ticket item. I'll give your tip a try the next time I am at the mall. I mean after all, how MANY pocketbooks do I need?! LOL. Haven't been to your blog in a while. Going there now!