When life got in the way, Chris, Digital Marketer at John Hancock, and his fiancée Charlotte found a way to get their finances—and future—on track. Find out what they did.
How did you two meet?
CHARLOTTE: We met in a class during our final semester of college. Chris not-so-subtly changed seats to sit next to me a few weeks into the semester.
CHRIS: It worked. She unexpectedly gave me her number one day, and that was that.
How long have you been together?
CHRIS: Seven years.
CHARLOTTE: Actually, seven years and one and a half months.
If you could pick your partner’s spirit animal what would it be and why?
CHARLOTTE: Easy—Chris is a turtle. He is SLOW, but also steady and solid as a rock.
CHRIS: That’s hard to argue with…for Charlotte’s spirit animal, I struggled with this, but I’d say a dog breed that is particularly loyal, friendly, and loves to cuddle. Maybe a Golden Retriever or Lab?
What kinds of things are you good at collaborating on?
CHRIS: Most things. For example, we both immediately knew our dog was the one for us when we met him. We are largely on the same page for planning vacations, and figuring out what to watch on TV or which movies to go see. Now, of course, we both sometimes watch things we don’t really care for, but it’s never a point of contention. I can always tell when she really wants to see something and I know she’ll return the favor for something I really want to watch, so it all evens out. The mundane things like grocery shopping are also always easy for us.
What kinds of things don’t you work too well together on?
CHARLOTTE: Chores and planning in general. I am a big fan of lists and crossing things off. Chris is a bit of a procrastinator and keeps everything in his head—it kind of works for him.
CHRIS: Yeah, she’s right. I know I drive her up the wall with those tendencies. She’s more of a planner and I stumble through things. Ambiguity is something I am comfortable with, for her—not so much. At this point, we have lived together for six and a half years, so obviously, we make it work, but with a lot of things, we just divide and conquer based on our skills. We focus on what each of us is good at: she is clean and organized, while I am handy and can cook.
Which one of you is the “money manager” in the relationship?
CHARLOTTE: We had done everything separately for a while, but are now looking at our finances more jointly.
CHRIS: I am starting to take the lead on this. Our budgeting styles are slightly different, so it is a bit of a learning and testing process, but we have a fuller view of what our means truly are now.
Would things be more effective if you were more collaborative?
CHRIS: I can’t see how it’d be a bad thing.
CHARLOTTE: Yeah, it can only help.
Do you have a shared bank account?
CHRIS: We had been meaning to get a joint account for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it. About a year ago, I explored a joint checking account for paying bills like rent, cable, and utilities, but we were in a period of transition where I was finishing up school and Charlotte was quitting her job to take an unpaid internship, so we held off. Not sure that was the best decision. But we recently started investing together!
CHARLOTTE: I’m happy we finally have at least one shared account.
What are your respective saving styles?
CHARLOTTE: I am a budgeter and goal setter. Always have been and found it works for me.
CHRIS: I tend to be the opposite where I throw whatever is left over after paying bills and discretionary expenses at a savings account and debt (student loans and credit cards). This has always worked well for me—the only debt I have is directly related to school and the transition period right afterward. Prior to school, I never carried any debt and always had a small savings account and a healthy 401k. I look forward to getting back on track in the coming months.
What goals are you currently saving for?
CHARLOTTE: A wedding and soon after, a house.
CHRIS: The wedding savings is messy since we just decided to bump up our date to May (got engaged in December!), but we have a budget in Excel going out a few months and have been good about keeping it up to date.