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5 ways financial literacy could make your relationship better than ever.

Aside from politics and religion, what is more polarizing than money?

5 ways financial literacy could make your relationship better than ever.

A 2013 survey found that money is the #1 cause of stress in a relationship.

More so than in-laws or whose turn it is to do the dishes. In fact, arguing about money is easily the top predictor of divorce. Yipes.

But, a deeper understanding of how money works can affect our lives in many surprising ways.


Ways that go beyond just making more of it and can change our relationships for the better.

Jeffrey Dew, Ph.D., a professor at Utah State University, told Upworthy, "Financial literacy is important because it can help inform couples about how to handle their money on a day-to-day basis as well as inform their long-term financial goals."

Well said, Professor Dew. Now, here are five things everyone needs to know about money.

1. Proper planning will lessen your financial stress immensely.

Ahhhh yes! The sweet, soothing touch of financial literacy.

No surprise here! No couple wants to go through the doldrums of financial stress. BUT if you’re smart about your expenses and budget accordingly, there’s peace of mind and, well, peace in general.

One way to start is by signing up for a financial app to help you budget. There are a lot of options out there that let you integrate all your accounts, provide forecasts, and fast-track the stress-relieving process to get you looking like that baby owl in no time. You and your partner can review your accounts, set savings goals, and watch your progress together!

2. Talking about money actually brings you closer together.

A romantic getaway. A candlelit dinner. Fixing your finances.

Yes, all of these can strengthen your relationship. Taking the time to assess your financial situation together not only gives you a clearer idea of where you stand, it reinforces a crucial relationship dynamic — teamwork! By figuring out each of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to managing money, you can build a solid foundation for working together that you'll use again and again throughout your relationship.

Let's never argue about money again! GIF from "Saturday Night Live."

Teams don’t go splurging on stuff in secret. Teams look out for the well-being of one another and do what’s best for the whole.

3. Understanding your finances will help you predict the future.

Oooohh! I see a comprehensive financial plan in your future.

Well, kind of. For couples, a financial plan is probably the closest thing to a real crystal ball. I mean, it can help both of you figure out exactly where you want to be in five, 10, 20, or 50 years if you want to!

The perfect house? The perfect car? All of it (plus more) can be yours for the incredibly low price of putting in the work and creating a solid plan that makes sense and keeps you on the path toward your goals.

4. Creating a budget will actually save you more time in the long run.

Time is money, money is time, and so on and so on. GIF via Vortex Anomaly.

Breaking down your finances will take time. It’s just a question of how much.

If you put in the work early, you save yourself from all the unnecessary hours rummaging through paperwork and dealing with collectors later on. That’s time you can spend going out, watching "Game of Thrones," or even actually spending your money on experiences and creating memories together.

Which leads me to my last point...

5. You can still treat yo selves, you know.

Aziz knows what's up — style-wise and money-wise.

OK, so this is pretty money-related, but it’s not about having more of it. It’s about understanding that you should enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The trick is finding the middle ground so you can still splurge, just smarter. When you’re efficient with your funds, you can find ways to buy the things you want and maximize every single cent.

Now go call your significant other! Tell them you love them, and tell them you have a plan to ease all your money-related stress.

We did it! We did it! GIF from "Seinfeld."

(Just don’t do it in an "I won the lottery!" kind of way.)

Photo courtesy of Yoplait
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When Benny Mendez asked his middle school P.E. students why they wanted to participate in STOKED—his new after school program where kids can learn to skateboard, snowboard, and surf—their answers surprised him.

I want to be able to finally see the beach, students wrote. I want to finally be able to see the snow.

Never having seen snow is understandable for Mendez's students, most who live in Inglewood, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. But never having been to the beach is surprising, since most of them only live 15-20 minutes from the ocean. Mendez discovered many of them don't even know how to swim.

"A lot of the kids shared that they just want to go on adventures," says Mendez. "They love nature, but...they just see it in pictures. They want to be out there."

Mendez is in his third year of teaching physical education at View Park K-8 school, one of seven Inner City Foundation Education schools in the Los Angeles area. While many of his students are athletically gifted, Mendez says, they often face challenges outside of school that limit their opportunities. Some of them live in neighborhoods where it's unsafe to leave their houses at certain times of day due to gang activity, and many students come to his P.E. class with no understanding of why learning about physical health is important.

"There's a lot going on at home [with my students]," says Mendez. "They're coming from either a single parent home, or foster care. There's a lot of trauma behind what's going on at home...that is out of our control."

Photo courtesy of Yoplait

What Mendez can control is what he gives his students when they're in his care, which is understanding, some structure, and the chance to try new things. Mendez wakes up at 4:00 a.m. most days and often doesn't get home until 9:00 p.m. as he works tirelessly to help kids thrive. Not only does he run after school programs, but he coaches youth soccer on the weekends as well. He also works closely with other teachers and guidance counselors at the school to build strong relationships with students, and even serves as a mentor to his former students who are now in high school.

Now Mendez is earning accolades far and wide for his efforts both in and out of the classroom, including a surprise award from Yoplait and Box Tops for Education.

Yoplait and Box Tops are partnering this school year to help students reach their fullest potential, which includes celebrating teachers and programs that support that mission. Yoplait is committed to providing experiences for kids and families to connect through play, so teaming up with Box Tops provided an opportunity to support programs like STOKED.

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!