About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

5 Reasons We Don’t Keep Separate Finances After Marriage

My wife and I decided to combine our finances when we got married.

It simply made the most sense to us.

Some people argue couples should also keep their finances separate. We respectfully disagree.

Here’s why we decided against keeping our finances separate.

We Have the Same Financial Goals

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t marry someone who doesn’t have the same goals, financial or otherwise, as I do.

My wife and I just want to live a decent lifestyle while making sure we are prepared for the future. We don’t want to incur debt unless absolutely necessary. We want to be able to retire comfortably and are willing to save a decent chunk of money now to be able to do so.

If you and your future spouse don’t have similar goals when it comes to your finances, you’re likely going to get in a few money fights.

Even if your finances are separate, you’ll eventually have to face the music if your spouse isn’t on the same financial page as you.

We Don’t Want to Create Resentment

If we kept separate finances, we’d likely get tired of the income inequality between us.

What would happen if my wife becomes a major saver due to having a higher income? I might decide to spend all my money because I would know she has savings.

I might expect her to treat me to dinners and vacations because she has money available in her savings when my account balance shows $0. That wouldn’t be fair to her but it’d seem like a good alternative in my eyes.

We’re A Team – Our Money Should Act That Way

On a more basic level when you become married you become a team for life. If you’re a team for life why wouldn’t you want your money to act like a team as well to maximize its potential?

Often, separate finances means little communications about finances. Having separate finances could easily lead to duplicate effort or a non optimal use of each person’s money.

Separate Finances Makes It Easier To Hide Financial Problems

If you keep your finances completely separate, chances are you’ll never talk about your financial situations with each other. Even if you do, chances are that you’ll never see the complete picture of the financial situation your spouse is in. Why?

You kept your finances separate for a reason.

If you can’t co-mingle your finances and agree how to spend money together, you’d probably hide the part your of your finances your partner would argue with you about. After all, those fights are why you keep your finances separate right?

It Wouldn’t Work For Retirement

Retirement is even messier with separate finances. Unless we both had the same goals for retirement and we both saved a good chunk of our separate money for retirement, it just simply wouldn’t work.

We’d likely end up retiring at significantly different times. We’d retire with different sized nest eggs that would lead to different amounts of money to spend.

If we were able to deal with the financial fights, one person would probably end up supporting the other person, at least to a point. There would probably be at least a bit of resentment.

Wouldn’t you be upset if you saved aggressively for retirement and then gave most of your money to the other spouse so they can keep spending like they have their whole life? You’d never reap the full benefits of all of your hard work saving for retirement.

Separate finances just didn’t make sense for us.

So what do you do or plan to do? Do you have separate finances? Do you combine your finances? How does it work for you?

You Paid Off Your Debt… What’s Next?

Are you ready to pay off your debt but have no clue where to start? Read the first post in my series about paying off your debt, then read through this series until you get to this post, our twelfth in the series.

It’s a great feeling to finally be rid of your evil debt.

Don’t forget that feeling for one second.

You worked long and hard to get to this point. Cherish it.

Before you celebrate too much, there’s one thing you have to remember.

You’re not out of the water yet.

There is still a ton of work left to do after you’ve completed paying off the debts you wanted to eliminate.

You Made Big Changes – Don’t Let Them Be Temporary

You likely had to make some big changes to get to the end of your debt pay off journey. Some of them were extreme but temporary measures. However, I’d venture that a majority of the changes you made were good permanent lifestyle adjustments.

If you immediately go back to how things were before you started your debt pay off journey, you’re just going to end up back where you started in a few months or years.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you worked so hard to pay off all of that debt, just to end up in the same exact position again? I know I would be devastated if that ever happened to me.

You need to keep the momentum moving in the right direction after you’ve paid your debts off.

You Can Add Some Things Back

It’s okay to add some things back into your monthly spending that you had cut back on, but examine every item with extreme scrutiny.

Does this spending make my life better? Do I value what I’d be spending the money on highly? Does spending this money help me reach my long-term goals?

If the answers to these questions are yes, you may be able to responsibly add some spending back.

You might notice that you now really enjoy dining out every once in a while. However, if you make it a habit and dining out turns into eating out multiple times per week, it won’t feel as special any more.

I’m all for enjoying life. Just don’t fall back into bad habits. They could become a permanent part of your lifestyle again.

If you had cut back on your shopping for entertainment budget, do you really miss buying things that likely ended up hanging in the closet forever after only being worn a couple of times?

I’m guessing once you broke the habit, all of the window shopping wasn’t really something you missed anymore. Make sure you still evaluate each purchase to see if you really need it or if it is a want.

Have a process in place to make sure you don’t return to those credit card swiping days that led to maxed out credit cards you couldn’t pay off.

Don’t Quit Earning Extra Income

Earning extra income was a key to our debt pay off success and we didn’t quit simply because our debt is gone.

Your extra income may lead to even bigger opportunities than you main income source one day. My blogging side hustle became my full time career.

Of course, if you just got a part time job delivering pizzas, you might want to consider dropping that if you don’t enjoy it. However, if you started a side business or have found a side gig you’re passionate about, don’t give it up.

Now that your most painful debts are gone, you have more options than ever.

Paying Off Debt Wasn’t A Goal

As my friend Joe Saul-Sehy from Stacking Benjamins would say, paying off debt is not a goal. That statement makes a ton of sense once you really think about it.

Paying off debt is a milestone in your life, but it isn’t the ultimate destination. Why is this important? You should still be working toward your actual financial goals now more than ever.

The money you once dedicated to destroying your debt is no longer obligated to paying other people back for your past purchases. It’s now available for you to move further along with your life goals.

Unfortunately, some of these life goals, like retirement, are so monstrous that we don’t even see them as goals. Instead we see them as insurmountable challenges.

Channel Your Debt Money Into Bigger Goals

Instead of increasing your spending or quitting your side gigs, channel your debt repayment money into goals that matter to you.

Is your emergency fund in good shape? Are your retirement accounts where they should be? If the answer is yes, good for you. 

Just make sure all aspects of your financial life other than debt are in good shape before you start increasing your spending again. Getting out of debt is just step one on a long journey to financial independence.

You’ve worked hard to change your financial lifestyle. This is just the beginning. Continue to live responsibly. If you do, money worries may soon be a thing of the past.

Focus on the big goals. Don’t forget about your retirement. Keep pushing yourself down the path to a better financial future.

What do you plan to do with your debt money once your debt is paid off? I’d love to hear your plans in the comments below.

Following Routine Maintenance Schedules Can Save You Thousands

We just bought a lawnmower for our new house.

Our awesome manual reel lawnmower wasn’t made for the type of grass we have at our new house.

It left a ton of tall blades in our lawn. That wasn’t going to cut it.

The first thing I did with our new lawnmower, after opening the box, was look for the owner’s manual.

I wanted to ensure I set up my brand new lawnmower correctly so I wouldn’t cause any damage that would shorten the life of my lawnmower.

Why? Last time I owned a gas lawnmower it died. Repairing it would have cost more than it would cost to buy a new lawnmower.

The sad part is, I only had myself to blame.

What I Found In The Owner’s Manual

When I read through the Owner’s Manual I found some pretty important stuff including safety precautions, how to put my lawnmower together the correct way, how to adjust my lawn mower and a routine or preventative maintenance schedule.

Due to the fact that I work in a manufacturing environment, the first thing I did was read through the safety manual. My job puts a lot of focus on safety and you should do the same around your house.

You don’t want to hurt yourself and end up needing to use your short or long term disability insurance or, the worst case, you don’t want to have to use your life insurance.

Next I read how to put the lawnmower together and how to adjust the settings. While the safety and general instructions were important, the last thing I read was the most important to my finances.

That’s right, the routine or preventative maintenance schedule has the largest potential to have an impact on your finances.

Why Routine and Preventative Maintenance Is Important

Remember how I said I killed a lawnmower in the past? It’s because I didn’t read the preventative and routine maintenance schedule.

That indirectly caused me to buy two lawn mowers. First, I bought the awesome manual reel lawnmower because I no longer had a lawn mower that worked. Then, I bought our new lawnmower, because I don’t have the original gas lawnmower I bought.

So what is so important about maintenance? If you properly maintain your purchases, they’ll be less likely to break. That means less repair costs and less replacement costs.

How I Killed My First Lawnmower

I had no clue you’re supposed to change oil in a lawn mower after the first 5 hours, then again every 50 hours after that.

I had no clue I was supposed to add fuel stabilizer to lawnmower fuel and I should avoid using gas with any ethanol in it.

I had no clue there was an air filter on a lawnmower and that I needed to clean it.

Had I done these simple tasks and followed the rest of the preventative and routine maintenance, I’d say there is a 95% chance that original lawnmower would still be running today.

I would have saved myself hundreds of dollars. But wait… didn’t I say preforming routine and preventative can save me thousands of dollars? It can!

How Performing Routine and Preventative Maintenance Saves Thousands of Dollars

You don’t just perform maintenance on lawnmowers. You need to perform maintenance on a lot of high dollar purchases including houses, cars, boats, RVs, computers, air conditioners, motorcycles and a ton of other things, too.

If you don’t perform the maintenance, you probably won’t get the full potential life out of your purchases. While some items might only require repairs if you don’t perform maintenance, other items could die completely without warning.

Wouldn’t it suck if you didn’t ever change the oil in your car and have your engine seize up after only 10,000-20,000 miles. I hope you plan on getting a lot more miles than that out of your car. If you don’t, you must have a lot more money than I do.

Buyer Beware – Not All Maintenance Schedules Are Created Equal

As with any purchase or transaction, you need to be fully aware of the fact that companies might not be giving you the most advantageous information for you as a customer.

They’ll likely err on the side of caution when it comes to how often you should perform maintenance. After all, if you’re using their supplies and parts, they make money when you perform maintenance.

You can always do some research and talk to qualified technicians to see if the recommended preventative or routine maintenance schedules are accurate or if they are just there to make the company more money.

Do you read owner’s manuals and perform preventative or routine maintenance? Have you ever had something break due to the fact you didn’t perform maintenance? Share your stories below in the comments so we can all learn!

Want To Kill Your Debt? Big Changes Lead To Massive Pay Offs

Are you ready to pay off your debt but have no clue where to start? Read the first post in my series about paying off your debt, then read through this series until you get to this post, our eleventh in the series.

I bet you’re excited that you’ve been able to make a plan of which loan to pay off first.

It’s even more exciting when you start to see the progress you’ve made from changing your mindset and making some small changes in  your financial life.

I have some even better news, though.

Now it’s time to start making some big changes that can completely transform your debt pay off plan and speed up the process immensely.

Big Changes Will Have The Largest Impact On Your Plan

Small changes are a great way to start shifting your mindset. Those changes will get you excited as momentum grows in your debt pay off journey.

Unfortunately, there are only so many small changes you can make before you run out of ways to save a few bucks here and there. That’s when it’s time to bring in the big changes.

Many people resist these big changes, but the magnitude of how they can change your debt pay off plan can be huge. Don’t immediately dismiss these ideas as crazy.

Many people have made these changes and have made amazing progress because they were open minded enough to embrace big change.

Sell Your New Fancy Car

Chances are you have a newer, fancy car. You probably have a car loan to go with it. Yuck, that’s more debt you have to pay off. Want to know a quick way to get rid of that debt and get further ahead in your debt pay off journey?

Sell the car and pay off the loan. Am I insane? Not at all. A car is for transportation. It should not be a status symbol. Yes, you may need a reliable car to get to work and run errands around town. I totally agree with you.

However, you can easily find a car that will meet those needs for $5,000 to $10,000, rather than the $30,000+ that some of the fancier cars and SUVs cost today.

What about all the money you’ll lose by selling your brand new car? It’s a fact of life, but it is a sunk cost. Sunk costs are decisions you made in the past that you can’t change. You can’t make decisions based sunk costs.

You’ll never get that money back whether you sell the car today or 3 years from now. It’s gone. The only difference is you’ll lose even more money as the car gets older.

With $5,000 to $10,000 cars, you won’t lose anywhere near as much money to depreciation each year. Just think how nice it’d be to have a much smaller car loan, or even no car loan at all.

Is all of that extra debt worth your fancy ride? You might even save money on your car insurance due to the lower value of your new to you $5,000 to $10,000 car.

Downsize Your House

Housing is normally the largest category in any budget. If that’s the case in your budget, then it’s also the largest opportunity to make a dent in your debt pay off.

Americans have grown accustomed to huge homes with a ton of rooms that they rarely use for anything other than storage or allowing someone to sleep at your house once a year. Why pay for all of that extra space you never use?

Just like with your car, you can downsize your home, too. Whether you simply move to a smaller, cheaper home when your lease runs out or you decide to sell your home to move to a more appropriate dwelling, this is possibly one of the biggest wins you can ever score.

Whatever you do, make sure that you think this through for a long time. If you just end up upgrading again shortly after you downsize, you’ll have wasted a ton of money moving and in real estate fees if you owned your homes.

Move To A Different Area

Want to save even more money on housing and potentially everything else in your budget? Consider moving from a high cost of living area to a low cost of living area. Where you live has a huge effect on how much money you spend every month.

I personally moved from the rat race driven metro area of Washington, DC to the Florida panhandle. It is one of the best decisions I ever made.

I was lucky enough to keep a similar salary and almost all of my living expenses cost less in Florida. Plus, there’s no income tax. It was a huge win for us and it saved us thousands of dollars.

Get A Job That Pays You What You Deserve

Your income from your job is one of the biggest limiting factors in your debt pay off plan.

Due to the massive constraint income places on your plan, you should look to optimize your income as much as possible. If you’re being underpaid for your skill level, now is the time to see what you can do to raise your income.

You can ask for a raise if you’ve shown you deserve one. If that doesn’t work, you can always look for a new job that pays you in line with your skills and abilities.

Just be careful not to burn any bridges in the process. Your current income is a lot more than you’d get if you pressed the wrong button and got yourself fired.

Big Changes Aren’t Easy

I’m not suggesting that any of the above changes are easy. They aren’t. They shouldn’t be. Just keep an open mind and seriously consider them.

These actions can save or earn you thousands of dollars a year that you can use toward your debt pay off plan. Once your debt is gone, it can kick start your savings and retirement, too.

Don’t simply dismiss these ideas without giving them serious thought. The biggest changes offer the biggest rewards.

Once you’ve mastered this step, there’s just one more step to go. That step takes place after you paid off your debt, which we’ll cover next week.

Did you make any huge changes in your life in order to pay off your debt faster? We certainly did and it helped us pay our debt off faster than we could have ever imagined. Let us know what big changes you made in the comments below.

2017 Republic Wireless Review: Our Experience After 3 Years

Republic Wireless is a cell phone service provider that began offering service in 2011.

They’re changing the way people pay for and use their cell phone service. 

Why are they making such big waves?

Republic Wireless is stealing customers from the big four carriers left and right because they can save people a massive amount of money every month.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone loves paying crazy high cell phone bills.

Personally, my wife and I both have our cell phones with Republic Wireless.

Included below are our personal experiences with Republic Wireless throughout the almost three years we’ve been subscribers.

Republic Wireless Plans And Their Prices

No matter which Republic Wireless plan you pick, you never have to sign a contract. Right away, that puts Republic Wireless ahead in my mind.

Save hundreds per year on your cell phone bill with Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless offers a variety of plans.

Their cheapest plan is only $15 a month and gives you unlimited cell service for texts and phone calls but no mobile data over cell towers.

Instead, you can use unlimited data over WiFi.

If you’d like to use data, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their packages with data, which start at just $20 per month for 1 GB of data.

Other plans include 2 GB of data for $30 per month, 4 GB of data for $45 per month and 6 GB of data for $60 per month.

If you’re a heavy data user, they have a 10 GB plan for $90 per month.

If you end up needing more data than your plan allows for in a given month, you can simply upgrade to the next higher plan for the rest of the month. 

Then, you can switch back to your old plan before your next billing cycle begins.

Of course, you still have to pay taxes and governmental fees. On our $20 plan, we pay just $3.57 in taxes and fees per month.

So how can Republic Wireless offer these insanely low rates? Keep reading to find out… Already excited to check out the plans for yourself?

GetRepublicWirelessToday

How Can Republic Wireless Offer Such Low Rates?

How can a cell phone provider offer these rock bottom prices, have great service and survive? I’m glad you asked, because switching to their service can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Republic Wireless uses wireless networks (WiFi) instead of cell networks whenever possible to make phone calls, send text messages and for all data consumption purposes.

By using free WiFi instead of a cell network, Republic Wireless is able to save a ton of money by not paying for cell network access. They pass these savings along to their consumers in the form of lower rates and I have to say, I’m quite impressed with their offerings.

These days, we’re almost always around a source of WiFi. I know we have WiFi at our home, at work and at many of the stores we shop at on a regular basis like the grocery store and Home Depot.

The only time I don’t have access to WiFi is if I’m travelling somewhere unfamiliar or I’m actually on the road.

Be A Part Of Their Thriving Community

Have you ever heard of a community of passionate AT&T or Verizon users that come together to help each other? I didn’t think so. The community at Republic Wireless’s site is quick to help you out if you ever have a question.

You can even learn how to optimize your Republic Wireless experience through the knowledgeable people already in the community. As you learn, you can add to the conversations if you’d like.

How Good Is Republic Wireless’s Service?

Republic Wireless uses the Sprint or T-Mobile network for all of your cell calls, text messages and data that don’t end up going over WiFi depending on which phone you use.

My phone uses the Sprint network, which is actually one of the better networks in terms of 4G LTE coverage in my area. My wife’s phone uses the T-Mobile network. We haven’t had any major problems with either one.

Make sure to check the coverage in your area on the Republic Wireless website. You can see coverage maps and enter your zip code to see what coverage they have in your area.

But what if you don’t have awesome Sprint or T-Mobile coverage everywhere you go? Is it a big problem?

I’m going to say it isn’t a game breaker with how Republic Wireless works. Due to the fact that they route everything over WiFi as a first priority, as long as you have access to WiFi you should be fine.

Over the past year, we’ve encountered just a few places where we didn’t have phone or data service through Republic Wireless. However, I can remember there were dead spots when I used to have AT&T, too.

You’ll run across these issues with any cell phone provider, but Republic Wireless’s calling and texting over WiFi offers another option for when you’re in a dead zone.  As soon as we connected to the store’s WiFi network, we were able make the call we needed.

When you consider how much cheaper Republic Wireless is than AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, I’m willing to accept an occasional area of spotty service for the hundreds of dollars I’ll save each year.

You Can Switch From WiFi To Cell Service Manually During A Call

If for whatever reason your WiFi call isn’t working smoothly (which we haven’t had any major problems with) there is a setting you can turn on that will allow you to switch a call manually from WiFi to cell service or from cell service to WiFi.

It’s called handover and we’ve rarely had to use it. All you have to do is tap the button.

Republic Wireless’s software is very good at picking a stable network for your phone calls, so we’ve rarely had to switch mid call. However, it’s a nice feature to have.

You might end up with a dropped call if the handover doesn’t go smoothly, but I’d say this is a rare occurrence based on our experience. We could count the amount of dropped calls we’ve had in the past year on one hand with a couple fingers to spare.

What’s The Catch?

Republic Wireless isn’t going to be able to offer the same exact service on all levels of their business that AT&T and Verizon can because they aren’t a behemoth company yet, even though they currently have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

There isn’t a phone number you can call for customer service, which is a bit annoying. However, they do have a well thought out ticket based online support. You usually get a response pretty fast, but sometimes you may have to wait a bit if they’re super busy.

The only other major downside is you can’t use any phone on Republic Wireless. That said, they do have an awesome selection of Android based phones to choose from.

They have the latest Samsung Galaxy phones, a wide range of Motorola phones and a cheap Huawei phone if you don’t care which phone you use. Check out their full lineup of phones here.

Don’t Worry! You Can Bring Your Phone Number With You!

The biggest worry my wife had about switching to Republic Wireless was keeping her phone number. Luckliy, in almost every case you can port (or take) your old cell phone number to Republic Wireless.

The setup is pretty simple and they have step by step instructions for you to follow. Make sure to check and see if your number can be ported over before you make a purchase with their online tool.

GetRepublicWirelessToday

14 Day Money Back Guarantee

If you’re on the fence about trying Republic Wireless, the 14 day money back guarantee should ease your mind. If you don’t like it, simply return it and get all of your money back, except for your initial shipping. Just make sure to follow the rules.

In order to get the money back guarantee, you must contact Republic Wireless within 14 days of delivery of your phone. You must be able to return the phone in an undamaged condition AND with all of the original packaging. Don’t throw anything away!

You can only return accessories if they are unopened and undamaged. So, don’t open any accessories if you’re not sure if you’re going to keep the phone yet.

All you have to do is wait for your free return shipping label and ship your phone back and they’ll process your request. It’s a pretty simple process! Make sure to check out the Republic Wireless website for full details.

Our Final Verdict On Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless is a great way to save a ton of money on your cell phone service. Even after you buy the phones up front, you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year over a traditional cell phone plan.

The WiFi calling technology seems to be working pretty well for us and it will only get better going forward from here.

Yes, you might drop a call once in a blue moon or you might hit a spot that doesn’t have cell coverage, but the same exact things happen on the big networks like AT&T or Verizon, too.

Overall, I’m willing to take any of the minor inconveniences I’ve dealt with so far in exchange for savings hundreds of dollars a year. In fact, my wife and I have both made the switch to Republic Wireless and we’re saving a ton of money.

That said, Republic Wireless isn’t perfect for everyone.

If you’re not a huge technology nerd that has to have the latest Apple phone every 6 months and your area has decent Sprint, T-Mobile and/or WiFi coverage then I suggest you give them a shot. 

You don’t have anything to lose with their 14 day money back guarantee. Odds are you’ll like the service and save hundreds of dollars a year. How cool is that?!

GetRepublicWirelessToday

Ready to try out Republic Wireless and want to support this site? Sign up through this affiliate link for Republic Wireless! I’m very thankful for everyone who helps support Money Manifesto!

Do you have Republic Wireless? If not, are you considering switching? Have any questions that we can test out for you? Let me know in the comments or contact me!

I worked very hard on this review to help you decide if Republic Wireless is a good fit for you or not to help you save money. All views are 100% my own and 100% honest.

There are affiliate links within this post that will pay me a small commission if you sign up through them. It is the same price for you either way, but I thank you in advance if you sign up through one of my links.