Julien and Kiersten Saunders met in 2012 while working for the same company and they quickly fell for one another. However, their whirlwind romance was cut short following an extravagant vacation. When they got home from Panama, reality set in, and they were forced to have a tough conversation about money after they both had different opinions on recouping the money spent on the vacation.
Prior to their baecation, they had agreed to split everything and used credit cards to help pay their traveling costs. Julien had always been conservative with his money whereas Kiersten was a little more liberal but those differences became more glaring after Kiersten continued going out while Julien was budgeting. As a result of the fallout over money, they would ultimately break up. Shortly after, however, they decided to give their love a chance once more and are now married with a son, running a successful blog and podcast helping others to learn financial literacy and build wealth.
Their blog Rich and Regular was inspired by the conversations they had with one another about money. Launched in 2017, they have used the blog to share their personal struggles and wins regarding money as well as making it a platform for Black people to gain knowledge about investing, entrepreneurship, and much more.
“It all sort of turned into what can we do to attract more people of color, especially Black professionals to think like this, to have these conversations to think like this, to re-evaluate their careers and their approach to investing for a myriad of reasons,” Julien says. “One, obviously Black wealth is important to the Black community, two, Black marriages are a core part of that community and that equation, and three, all of the other kinds of issues that affect our community that we don’t have time to solve because our lives are basically spent working.”
According to Business Insider, opposing attitudes about money is one of the biggest culprits leading many marriages to end in divorce. Kiersten and Julien were able to overcome this hurdle that many couples face, so they know a thing or two about the importance of having the money conversation early on.
“Once you hit that part when you start talking about goals and future plans, which for some people they come out the gate with that,” says Kiersten. “They want something very serious and they want to know that the person they’re spending time with aligns [with] them and their ambitions but as soon as you start having those conversations about the kind of life that you want, money is a huge tool to enable all of that life. So, you also want to make sure there is an accommodating financial plan to try to achieve this white picket fence, home ownership, multiple children and pets, and travel.”
The Atlanta couple also wrote the book Cashing Out: Win the Wealth Game by Walking Away, a guide to reaching financial freedom, which they both have managed to do. As life partners and business partners, Kiersten and Julien have experienced many trials and errors to maintain a thriving marriage and business. They agreed that the key to being successful at both has a lot to do with the type of environment you create in the home.
“We also make it a point to play to our strengths. We do that in our marriage and in our business where regardless of what gender roles or the patriarchy or what traditional marriage advice is, if I’m not good at something or if he’s not good at something, we don’t force the issue,” Kiersten explains. “So something as simple as cooking–Julien is a professionally trained culinary student and so cooking is far easier for him to do even though traditionally women are the ones who [are] supposed to cook but he does 99% of the cooking in our household and that’s just one example."
"We really audit every task, every project, every goal that we have to decide who’s gonna do what. Nothing really is on autopilot in that way and we’re true partners. It’s a bit unconventional because a lot of people kind of opt into roles because that’s what they’ve seen done [by] their mom or their parents or on television, whereas for us, it's a conversation to be like does that make sense?”
What once broke them up now has helped them amass wealth, become financially independent, and be adept at helping others achieve similar goals. Currently, they are working on launching the Cashing Out podcast to accompany their book and they are gearing up to release season three of their YouTube series “Money on the Table.” But while a lot has changed, some things still remain the same.
“We’ve both developed hacks to get around our natural tendencies but there’s also these limits so that you don’t create conflict. I still like to spend freely,” Kiersten admits, “but my workaround is to make sure we pay ourselves first, make sure we’ve invested, make sure we’ve set aside money for savings, the bills are taken care of and then I can do whatever I want with the rest.”
Julien shares that they now respect each other’s differences and even learn from them. “We have evolved to appreciate the other person’s approach or I think more so in the broader setup, financial characteristics that you may use to define who you are as opposed to spender or saver,” Julien says. “It’s more complex than that.”
“And so I think we’ve grown to appreciate that but I also think that as your money grows, as you have more of it, and as you continue to have more conversations about money, you just kinda get better at it. So, it's not really so much of a need to be so tight as you may be or may be required to be at the beginning when you’re really trying to dig out of debt or tryna to accomplish some lofty goal. If you’re past that then you can kind of afford to ease up a little bit and I think we’ve learned to do that. I’ve learned for sure.”
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image courtesy of Julien and Kiersten Saunders