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Kathy Marshack News

Money Tips for Couples Starting Their Own Business

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Couple sitting at desk looking at billsYou’ve got a new business idea? Great! Your romantic partner is on board to work with you? Even better! As you begin to plan the logistics of how this new enterprise with your partner will grow and thrive, it goes without saying that planning financial matters will be on the top of your list of things to do.

These plans do not refer solely to financial matters directly related to the business, such as start-up costs, fees, and overhead. When you’re working together as a couple, money issues are also part of your personal lives. One partner may keep their full-time job while the other devotes their time to the new business. Maybe you will both quit working and jump in with both feet. How will this entrepreneurial venture affect your children?

As a couple, you need to determine ahead of time, how you will manage your money, or lack thereof, during this transition.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many entrepreneurial couples, and there is a pattern among those who have long-term, happy relationships interwoven with a prosperous business life. Here are some money tips for couples starting their own business I have seen work time and again:

  • Make a plan for personal expenses. Know what you have, and what you can afford. Growth usually requires a certain amount of risk, but don’t go into your new situation blind. Create a solid plan for how you will continue to pay for your personal expenses as the business grows.


  • Prepare to live on a single income. It may not come to this. Your business could be profitable immediately. Or you may both continue working full-time until the business reaches a point where you feel comfortable with one or both of you quitting your full-time job. But be prepared for the idea that you may very likely have to survive on less for a time. Make sure that no matter where your money is coming from, you both feel like equal partners. Regular communication is vital to maintaining that feeling of partnership.

  • Designate responsibilities. Don’t get lost in the chaos that comes with launching a new business. Keep in touch with each other and make sure everyone feels valued. For efficiency’s sake, you may divide up duties along the lines of who is most capable or available. At the end of the day, though, you are just as responsible as your partner for the success of your goal. If one spouse is less involved in the business, show gratitude for the work they do and sacrifices they make in other ways.


  • Give 100%. Each partner should consider themselves 100% responsible for the quality of their individual life as well as their joint venture (i.e. parenting, household duties, managing & promoting a business). You should put your whole self, talents, intuitions, and muscle into the marriage and business partnership. When both partners do this, it makes them each equally responsible for the outcome.


  • Communicate. There is no substitute for regular, meaningful communication. What does this have to do with money? Your business will suffer if you are not working together as partners in life and business. Take time out from the stress of entrepreneurship to reconnect and keep love as your top priority. This means talking about things unrelated to your business. Talk about the things that feed your soul, that concern you, that bring you joy.


  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Starting and running a successful business requires an inordinate amount of time and energy. It could result in you losing touch with those most important to you. It is also crucial to care for your personal health and well-being. Your business can’t run without you, and your partner doesn’t want to do it without you. Set aside time to be active in a way that energizes and invigorates you, and schedule time with your family and friends. That time spent recharging your batteries can be just what you need to persevere and achieve even greater things.


Talking about money is a top stressor for many couples. When you add in the stress of starting a new business don’t be surprised if things get a bit rocky in your relationship. I’ve helped many couples make a success of their marriage and their business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education services specifically for entrepreneurial couples.

Are You a Driven Person? Why You Need to Understand What’s Driving Your Desire

Monday, October 03, 2016


Desire – the tingling anticipation of getting something you want – can be a powerful motivating force. What’s interesting is it’s often the desire to have something, rather than securing the item that brings excitement and a measure of happiness.

The danger is you can become trapped in a frustrating, never-ending cycle of satisfying desires. The excitement over procuring a desired item, position, or status can quickly be replaced by a feeling of emptiness, and an unrelenting need to acquire something else. Successful entrepreneurs are usually very driven so they need to understand their desires to avoid becoming a victim of their own ambition.

I worked with an entrepreneurial couple we'll call Barb and Kevin. As their wealth increased, they both took on the mindset that making money meant they had to spend it. And spend money they did! However, as they fulfilled one desire, another rose up to take its place. They constantly needed to make more money to fund their increasing desires. They eventually lost track of the roots of their marriage. They also lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers. Their careers simply became a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.

Of course there is nothing wrong with reasonably spending money you have worked hard to earn. But do so with purpose. Before you make a purchase of a luxury good, or even something on clearance at a big box store, ask yourself “Why?” Are you buying the item as a reward for your hard work, because it is a necessity, or because you just happen to like it? Whatever your reason for making the purchase, be clear and honest with yourself about it.

In life, if money matters take precedence over everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. Instead of planning for wealth, examining their beliefs about money, and working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. And it nearly destroyed their marriage. It also negatively affected their children. Their four children were given everything, had every advantage, and yet suffered because of the priority their parents placed on the acquisition of material things.

We all want a lot of things, but there is a distinct difference between wanting something and desiring something. For example, you may want to make more money. But what do you really desire? If your reason behind wanting to make more money is that you will then have more time, security, or freedom, then your true desire is not money – it is the time, security, and freedom that you hope money will help you obtain. You want more money, but you desire something much greater.

Understanding your core values and desires is vital to your success. Realize that what you think you want may not be what you truly desire. Once you clearly understand your real desires, you can take steps to avoid falling into the trap of always wanting more. The process of satisfying wants is what creates more want. In contrast, a real desire is not fleeting; it is concrete, able to be satisfied and enjoyed.

It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. I encourage you to take a look at my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home and complete the self-assessment exercises. Once you have your values about money clear in mind, you will be in a much better position to satisfy your true desires.

Successful Estate Plans Consider the Soft Side of the Family First

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


consult a psychologist before estate planning so you sort out the family business issues firstMost entrepreneurs are so caught up in the passion of their enterprise that they rarely plan ahead for the wealth that accumulates. As a result, when it comes time to develop an estate plan, many entrepreneurs are at a loss for where to start.

It would seem that the logical place to start is with your attorney, CPA, investment advisor or banker. However, while all of these professionals should play a part in the development of your estate plan eventually, the first stop on the way to a successful estate plan is the psychologist's office to deal with the soft side of the family business. Many an estate plan has been left undeveloped because the interpersonal relationships in the family were counter to the best interests of the business.

Family firms are a system of family members, in-laws, shareholders and stakeholders. These systems interact with vendors, customers, employees, and the commercial community at large. It’s a delicate balance to maintain a successful business and a successful family enterprise when the systems are integrated into a family firm. The stress on the system becomes even greater when it’s time to develop a plan for the continuity of the business and the family, and a fair apportionment of wealth. If the family doesn’t have mature and healthy interpersonal relationships, the process of estate planning can be costly, painful and unsuccessful.

Consider for example a CEO who is about to retire. He has two daughters and wants to gives each daughter an equal share. One daughter has worked with him for years. The other daughter has never worked for her father but now that he’s retiring, she and her husband want to take a more active position in the company. The first daughter feels she deserves to continue as the president of the company. And she is not pleased about her sister's new interest. Nor does she like her father's decision to treat them equally. Where this family once got along fine, a new problem is growing that they never had to face before. How would you are your advisors handle this "hot potato"?

To create an estate plan that truly integrates the success of the family and the firm, it’s necessary to seek the help of a psychologist who understands the soft side of families and particularly those families who are in business together. Cleaning up root interpersonal problems is essential to the development of a meaningful estate plan that doesn’t increase family conflict. For example, with the help of a psychologist, the father with two daughters learned that "fair" was more appropriate than "equal" when it came to dividing the wealth and the business with his daughters.

If you have worked hard to create an enterprise you can be proud of and want to pass a legacy onto your children and grandchildren, first evaluate the soft side of your family system for any unresolved issues. Then take these concerns to a psychologist trained to help with untangling family knots and reweaving a healthy family/business tapestry. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.
Entrepreneurial Couples Checklist for Success

How to Keep Money Arguments from Tearing Your Family Apart

Friday, December 26, 2014


entrepreneurial couples keep money arguments from tearing your family apartWhen was the last time you examined your attitudes about money? Do you have a plan for its wise money management? Money can be a very powerful influencer on family dynamics. Some think, “We’ll be happy when we make a 6-figure income.” Yet, when they reach that goal, it’s not enough. Even with so much in their bank account, they don’t feel wealthy. Some even feel that their money becomes a trap, because it’s causing strain in their relationships and dysfunction in the family. They just aren’t prepared to handle money and its consequences.

Like everything else in an entrepreneurial relationship, money needs to be discussed and planned for. Becoming aware of your own biases and skewed perceptions about money will help you break through unnecessary roadblocks to handling wealth. Developing a solid plan for the management of your wealth requires a thoughtful dialogue with your partner, or your dreams may be foiled. You have to determine what money means to you. Perhaps you see yourself in the following examples…

Jonathan and Brooke had a prenuptial agreement to protect the assets that Jonathan had acquired before the marriage. Years later, after Brooke had assisted Jonathan in revitalizing the business and expanding it into the international arena, the prenuptial agreement had been forgotten. At least, Brooke thought it had been forgotten—until Jonathan said he wanted to revise it. Brooke was crushed that her husband didn’t trust her and was unwilling to give her credit for her contribution to their success. He maintained that their success was due to his financial investment even though he acknowledged Brookes contributions in other areas.


Connie and Ray have known each other since their teens. Never having even finished high school, the young couple got married and launched a successful wholesale health food business. However, in their early thirties, with three children and a multimillion-dollar business that employs several family members, Connie and Ray have a serious problem with drug addiction. They had never had a model for handling wealth, and they foolishly indulged in drug use and now find that their lives are out of control.

Amy and Evan met in college, got married after graduation, and settled in the suburbs. With two school-aged children, Amy returned to full-time teaching. Evan became a successful freelance technical writer. This couple is earning more income than their parents did at the same age. Lacking any models for handling wealth, Amy is constantly worrying that there will not be enough money. She questions Evan about every penny he spends, especially when he spends money to promote his business. Having never been self-employed herself, and having never seen her parents with any money, Amy is unclear about what level of business expenditure is appropriate.

All three of these couples need to bust some of the myths that they have about money. They need to reexamine what money means to them and what they want it to mean. Money arguments cause many couples to seek psychotherapy because they want to make their marriage work. If you need help uncovering your deep-seated beliefs about money and how these are concealing deeper, hidden issues between family members, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Remote education is also available for entrepreneurial couples who don’t live near my office.

Read more on my website: Marriage Counseling and in my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home.

Are You Happy with the Money You Earn?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


how much money do you need to earn to be happyWe all need money to live. But when is enough, enough? In a recent CNN article, "How much do you need to earn to be happy?", the results of the CNN Money's American Dream poll is very revealing. This poll, conducted by ORC International, asked these two questions:

How much do you need to make in order to be happy? They discovered that…

  • “23% said they'd need between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • Over half of people said it would take less than $100,000 to make them happy.
  • Almost a quarter of the people said between $50,000 and $74,999 would work.
  • 10% said $30,000 would be their minimum requirement.”

How much does it take to consider yourself rich? They discovered that…

  • “11% said they'd need to make $1 million or more.
  • The most typical answers fell between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • 60% thought incomes below $250,000 would be enough.”

The article refers to a Princeton study, which found that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”

Maybe some follow up questions should be – what do you do with your money? Do you spend it as fast as it comes in? Do you spend more than what’s coming in? Do you save? Are you using your money to achieve specific goals, or is it flying out the window with nothing to show for it?

As a psychologist in private practice I see clients who struggle to find happiness even when they’ve achieved their financial goals. Join us on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and let’s talk about this question – Do you define your riches in terms of monetary wealth or life experiences?



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