Welcome to Couples + moneywhere we break the boundaries of polite conversation. Forget questions about your sex life. We become even more personal. Let’s talk about what you and your partner do – and don’t – with your paychecks.
Every other Thursday, a couple will speak openly with Marie Claire about how they will split their finances. We’ll break down what each person pays for individually, what they split up, and all the details – from the person who picks up the bill in restaurants to the person who takes care of bank statements.
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This week we’re talking to Nadia and Mike, both 30, started a travel and romance blog for couples called Couple Travel the World. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they made a total of $ 60,600 per year ($ 5,050 per month)and now, due to COVID-related impact, do $ 1,030 per month From the blog. They have been together for 13 years and live in Atlanta, GA.
How it all happened
Nadia: Mike and I met at a high school dance when we were 14. My boyfriend dared me to ask the most handsome man in the room to dance, so I searched the room until I saw Mike.
Mike: We haven’t started dating at this point. We didn’t hear from each other for a few years until we happened to start talking at 17.
Nadia: We made an appointment and the rest is history. Since then we’ve been connected at the hip and decided to study both law and marketing at university. We were so connected that some of our classmates called us “couple,” a nickname that would later be part of our travel blog’s name.
Mike: We’ve both always had a great passion for travel. One of the reasons we stayed together for so long is because of our mutual interest in traveling the world. At university, we invested our part-time wages on the stock market in blue-chip stocks, investing on low stocks and selling on high stocks. We made good money investing our savings during the global financial crisis of 2008 when stocks were low.
Nadia: We both started working in law firms in 2013, but we quickly got tired of everyday life. I remember a lawyer once told me that lawyers are rats in cages, and that’s 100 percent true – you are locked in your office for hours every day. We decided to do a Masters overseas in Copenhagen in 2015, but due to the housing shortage, we instead traveled around the world and completed the Masters virtually. At this point, our life as digital nomads and our travel blog began.
Mike: At first we loved that our blog gave us access to free hotels and products, but we knew we wanted more financial freedom. In the second year we were able to live from our blog and spend our days traveling the world. We lived without permanent residence for five years and traveled full-time until COVID-19 halted our travel. We are currently driving in a renovated motorhome.
How COVID-19 has affected us
Nadia: Before COVID-19 hit, we explored America. Activity aside, one of our biggest editions was our virtual office – Starbucks! It’s a great place for digital nomads to work a few hours as there is a Starbucks every 20 minutes across America.
Mike: Since we have around $ 1,000 (after tax) to save on savings every month, we’d save that. For many years since 2008, we seldom bought stocks and waited our money for a good time to enter the market.
Nadia: The stock market moves on a 7 year cycle so it generally hits another low every 7 years.
Mike: When we invest in something, we always talk to each other first.
Mike: After COVID-19, our blog went from $ 5,050 per month to $ 1,030. Our advertising revenue fell 33 percent because nobody travels and advertisers aren’t spending.
Nadia: Before the pandemic, we signed a contract with a Fortune 500 company that paid us a standard monthly rate for work completed. You withdrew the contract from us with one day’s notice, and the work for that month had already been completed. Our expenses also increased as we had to stay on an Airbnb.
Nadia: With our savings, we have not only been able to cover our increased expenses, but also make smart investment decisions.
Mike: The entire stock market fell 30 percent and some stocks fell over 70 percent; We knew this was the opportunity we were looking for to buy. So far we have increased our portfolio by $ 20,000 through investments during this time.
Nadia: One stock we invested in was Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) for $ 8. Lots of people probably think we’re crazy to invest in a cruise line, but we felt the stocks were massively undervalued at $ 8. They had been trading over $ 50 just two months ago. We have since sold and taken some profits. The price is now $ 10, but we sold some of our stock a few weeks ago when the stock price hit $ 16.
Mike: We have also bought shares in other cruise companies like Carnival (CCL) ($ 9, now $ 14). Another example is Nvidia (NVDA), which is popularizing computer processors with gamers (bought $ 220, now $ 350) because we thought they could do even more business with closed brick and mortar businesses and people seeking home protection , to generate. We diversify our risk by buying small positions (only $ 1,000) in many different companies and industries.
Nadia: We currently have no family members and we are in no hurry to have children anytime soon. While we believe we will have kids one day, we wanted to spend time while we were young and having fun.
When we told each other our salaries
Mike: When we grew up together, neither of us had money to start with. We never really had to have “the salary interview”.
Nadia: From such a young age, we always had full access to each other’s accounts. We have always treated our money as mutual. However, we never opened a common bank account because it’s nice to have different accounts to save up for different things.
How we deal with the cost of living
Nadia: Our cost of living isn’t a house on a mortgage, it’s hotels and Airbnbs.
Mike: One misconception about traveling the world is that you need a lot of money. We have found that if you are savvy you can really do so for a very limited, normal wage.
[Editor’s note: Nadia and Mike did not disclose their average cost of living, including average cost of Airbnb stays, gas, or permit fees.]
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How often do we talk about money
Mike: Before COVID-19, it was necessary to talk about money on a daily basis – this is how we determined which hotels to stay in, which groceries we can buy and much more.
Nadia: We are always on the same side when it comes to money. We’re pretty frugal people so we only spend what we need. We reinvest any money we don’t need. Most people enjoy investing in a home, but we are most comfortable investing in the stock market. While we wait for a good opportunity, we hold money in cash or time deposits.
What we keep secret
Nadia: We don’t keep anything secret, at least not on purpose. Sometimes Mike does a stock trade he forgot to tell me about and I see the notification in our emails, but nothing other than that.
How we learned the budget
Nadia: My parents were always very good with money. Despite the fact that I grew up in a comfortable, middle-class family, my mother was well versed and I learned the importance of saving money from her. She based her family meals on what was on sale in the grocery store that week and did not buy clothes until it was put on sale. My father was addicted to the stock market, so I learned a lot about investing from him. I noticed that my friends weren’t doing stock trades because they weren’t happy with this type of investment. However, if you know when to buy and sell and invest in blue stocks, this can be a very good option.
Mike: My family was also very economical with money, especially with evening meals. She often cooked inexpensive meals like potatoes and lentil soup to save money and called multiple vendors to find the best price for the Christmas vacation.
Nadia: Since we both came from money-conscious families, we seldom argue about money because we are on the same page when it comes to saving money to the best of our ability.
How we pay for the non-essential
Mike: Sometimes things come up. We like to keep our incomes higher than our expenses and keep money in the bank for a rainy day. We were driving near Atlanta recently and our tire suddenly crumbled into nothing. It cost us $ 100 for a new tire that was out of our usual budget at all. Fortunately, we were able to reduce the savings.
What we bet on
Mike: We still believe in our travel blog and its ability to make money. We believe that one day travel will increase again, as will income.
Nadia: While some of our blogger friends are giving up their travel blogs, we’re doubling down. Based on the same philosophy with stocks, we believe this is the time when you can really make a difference. While others bury their heads in the sand, we pump out articles hoping to benefit from this work in the (hopefully) not too distant future!
The interviews were compressed and edited for reasons of clarity. Reporting and editing by Katherine J. Igoe. Design by Morgan McMullen.
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