Liz here to share some success tips when investing and working with your spouse. Matt (my husband of almost nine years) and I have learned a lot about this topic from trial and error and would love to share some tips that way you can avoid some of the challenges we faced!
As we might have shared in previous posts, Matt and I began investing together before we were even married. When we first started dating we played Rich Dad’s cash flow game together and read “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” We were hooked immediately! We began going to real estate investing seminars as a couple and purchasing various educational packages. We received a loan from my father to buy our first rental which was a duplex right outside of Philadelphia. Now, nine years later, we own over 100 units together and have been through a lot of “ups and downs.”
Here are the 7 Things We Did to Stay Happily Married
Whether we have worked full time or part time with one another, here are some suggestions on how to keep a healthy professional and personal relationship with your spouse.
1. Set Goals and Spend Time Planning Together
Before we purchased our first rental property, we discussed at length what our goals were and where we wanted to be in 1, 5 and 10 years.
It is critical to be on the “same page” with short and long term goals. Although I am not part of every decision my husband makes in our real estate business, I am part of every strategic and planning discussion. We continue to goal set and meet regularly to evaluate our progress. We then discuss how to make “course corrections.” You and your spouse may have different ways to achieve your goals; however, it is incredibly important to be aligned together. The key is to do this as a team.
The last thing any spouse wants is surprises especially when investing time, money and resources. This year we implemented something new – a monthly meeting to evaluate our progress towards our yearly and quarterly goals. This monthly “check in” meeting has helped tremendously with managing both of our expectations and keeping one another in the loop.
2. Understand and Respect Tolerance for Risk
In the midst of wedding planning and buying our home in 2005, Matt shared with me that he was thinking of quitting his job and jumping into Real Estate Investing “full time.”
Since we were aligned with our long term goals of financial independence, I was incredibly supportive of his decision. While he quit his job, I continued to work in my consulting role. Although we were very aligned with this major “risk” decision, there are other day to day “risk” decisions where we are not always aligned. I tend to be more conservative and cautious where Matt is overall more of a “risk taker.”
When we first started investing together, we would get very frustrated with the other person over this difference. However, over the years and working through a lot of deals together, we have learned to actually appreciate this difference within one another. It is not always easy to do this. Once a decision has been made, we support each other and make it “our” decision.
I recall one investment we made together that we both evaluated and felt like it was the right investment at the time. We ended up losing money in this deal, but I was really careful not to blame my husband in this situation since he took the lead. Every decision ends up being “our” decision especially when it comes to risk that way we don’t fall into the trap of resenting one another.
3. Divide up Tasks Based on One Another’s Strengths and Weaknesses
About four years after my husband started real estate investing full time, he asked me if I wanted to quit my job to help him grow the business.
I also wanted to be my “own boss” and wanted to see us achieve our financial goals sooner than later, so I agreed to join him full time. We only worked “full time” together for about a year and half and at the time it was an absolute disaster. Neither our professional or personal relationship was growing – they were doing the opposite!
One major reason for the lack of success in working full time together was not dividing up tasks that are based on our strengths and talents. For example, when I joined my husband full time, I basically performed the tasks that “needed to be done” and the ones that Matt had no time or interest in performing. One of these tasks was being the “book-keeper” and paying bills.
While I performed this task, I became increasingly resentful. I was not a very good bookkeeper nor did I enjoy it. Two recipes for a disaster!! I have begun working again with Matt in the business for about a year. In order to this successfully this time around, I had to work on projects that focused on my strengths and that I truly enjoy. Tasks get done a lot quicker and more peaceful when you focus on what you are “good” at vs. simply what “needs” to get done.
4. Respect Personal and Professional Boundaries
When you work with your spouse, it can be very hard to respect and even be aware of boundaries!
Everything can get blurred together. When Matt and I began working full time together and working from home together, we allowed our real estate investing business to consume our life and just about every conversation we had. Whether it was car rides to see family or even going out to dinner – we used every opportunity to talk about real estate. This was not healthy for our business or our marriage.
We recognized this all-consuming behavior and decided that some boundaries would be helpful. We realized that we wanted our home to be just that – our home. We decided to create boundaries room by room. We made up the rule that we could not even “talk” about real estate in the bedroom and kitchen. The living room and dining room were fine to talk about business. It seems funny but this helped us create some healthy boundaries.
5. Schedule Money/Business Dates AND Non Money Dates
As I shared earlier, I continue to work with my husband in our real estate business on various projects.
We have become really committed to having once a month “money/business dates” as well as “non business” dates. Once a month, we have what we call “money” dates to discuss our personal and business finances as well as discuss strategic business decisions. These have been very helpful for us to keep communication lines open and up front. Instead of asking my husband about progress with various projects, I hold off until these “dates” and I am able to receive status updates then.
We call them money “DATES” because this lightens up the feeling like we are having a “serious meeting” plus we always go out to lunch or breakfast so that helps too! It is also important to schedule “non business” dates where all you do is enjoy one another’s company. My husband and I have an 8 month old so we have not gone out on too many dates lately!! But the ones we have gone on, we enjoy every moment and keep the conversation focused on our personal life.
6. Celebrate Wins & Learned Lessons Together
Being in a state of “appreciation” versus “depreciation” is imperative on the path of real estate investing.
This was a principle we did not always live by, but we do now!! Both my husband and I are focused and goal oriented people. For many years, if we did not achieve the goals exactly as we set out to achieve – we would be disappointed and simply keep moving and moving.
It was not until we went to a wonderful weekend called the Millionaire Mind Intensive where we were reminded of the power of “celebrating your wins.” Ever since then, we are much better at celebrating our wins – no matter how small they are. Sometimes a flip may not make as much money as we anticipated; we still celebrate wins and discuss “learned lessons” together.
There has never been any deal we have invested in that we have not discussed what we learned from the experience and the value it brought to our investing life. Also, when he had some huge wins, we really “celebrated” and went out to a nice dinner, etc.
7. Laugh, Lighten up and Enjoy the Ride
Investing with your spouse can be overwhelming, stressful and frustrating at times.
Over the years, my husband and I have both learned to “lighten up” with one another and enjoy the journey. We did not do this early on. We took our investing business and achieving our goals very seriously.
There came a point where we were both incredibly stressed out and realized we were not as peaceful and happy as we wanted to be. Over the past few years, we shifted this and have learned that when you lighten up in a situation, you create more peace for yourself and everyone involved!
Thanks for reading this blog post. I would love to hear from those spouses who work together!
What success tips do you have for working with your spouse?
Be sure to leave your comments below!
Thanks for reading,