Money can be tricky ground to cover in a marriage.

Gone are the days when you can online shop to your heart’s content ? or splurge on an expensive girlfriends-only vacay with no one to answer to but yourself (and your bank account.)

Nope. When you’re married you’re at the stage in life where any financial decision you make will not only impact yourself, but your family as well. And that can be a tough pill to swallow.

And this generation of new moms has a lot on their plate. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it’s estimated that outstanding student loan debt in America has hit the $1 trillion mark. Student loans have now taken the second highest debt spot in our country, behind mortgages and slightly ahead of credit cards. Now throw in that first big family trip to Disney you’ve been dreaming of planning, the bigger house you’re saving for, and your little one’s childcare cost...needless to say, we have a lot on our financial plates.


Debt, savings, and budgeting are sitting there waiting for you to cut right into them...not at your husband. So how do you talk about that financial plate you share with your partner?

We chatted with Certified Financial Planner and nationally-recognized financial expert Lauren Lyons Cole about how you can come up with a realistic budget for your family and the best tools to do so as a team.

When dealing with debt in a marriage, or a specific savings goal, many experts recommend having a budget. What are your tips for creating a realistic budget together?

Typically, spenders and savers end up married to each other, which can lead to a lot of tension around money. It’s relatively easy to create a budget, but it’s a lot harder to stick to it. One of the best things you can do, surprisingly, is leave room for both partners to have some “fun money.” If the budget is tight, that could be as little as $10 or $20 a month each.

Are there any budgeting tools you recommend to help you stick to your budget?

I love Mint! Sweep is another good app. And many people have success with You Need A Budget.

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Can you talk a bit about communication between a couple in regards to sticking to the budget? How often should you check in with one another about numbers? How often should you talk about how it’s going for each of you realistically and emotionally?

It’s always helpful to try to understand each other, rather than judge each other. Money is an emotional topic, so it’s important to be patient when discussing it. If money is particularly tight, checking in daily or weekly may be necessary. Otherwise, monthly or quarterly would be fine. The important thing is to remember to set aside time to focus on your money together, as much as you might not want to. Plan to reward yourselves after with something you both enjoy (that is within the budget).

It’s always helpful to try to understand each other, rather than judge each other.

When most couples today bring student loan debt into a marriage, and maybe even their own credit card debt, etc. — how do you decide what to tackle first? It can be overwhelming.

Debt can be very overwhelming, and most people do not like having it hang over them. Before coming up with a debt repayment plan, you really have to get a good handle on your budget. That way you’ll know where you can cut back so you can put more toward your student loans or credit card debt. Keeping up momentum is the biggest challenge, and different people respond to different motivators. Slow and steady might work well for one family, where speed might be better for another. Keep trying things until something sticks. If you haven’t been successful with one strategy, try another.

What advice do you have for the mother who goes to Target and spends $150 each time even though she usually only needs to buy diapers? (Asking for a friend...)

This is so normal! It happens to everyone. In fact, Americans spend about $200 a month on impulse purchases, which adds up to $2,400 a year. That’s enough for a fun family vacation! I think setting a fun savings goal can help curtail those purchases. It’s easy to overspend if you can afford it and don’t really have a reason not to. But if you’re saving up for something exciting, like a new car or a trip together, it makes it easier to cut back.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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