Eight Financial Planning Exercises Our Marriage Counselors Should Have Made Us Do

Newly Married in Car. Photo by Cindy Baffour on Unsplash

I married my husband about a year after college. At 23 and 24, we were naïve about many things. Money was one. While we did receive marriage counseling, the experience was downright abysmal. So bad, in fact, that we quit one counselor because he was convinced I cared more about the wedding flowers than the marriage. Actually, I wanted nothing more than a fuss-free elopement, but that didn’t fit into his view of women.

Our second round of counseling was from a couple at our church. I forget what all they covered, but it was a very Sunday school format…


Many Fail on Living Wages, Women’s Equality, and Racial Equity

A wooden house leans precariously to the right in a bucolic field.
A wooden house leans precariously to the right in a bucolic field.
Photo by Gilles Desjardins on Unsplash

A nonprofit designs programming for poverty elimination. They don’t pay their entry level workers a living wage.

A nonprofit touts programing that will empower women. Their staff handbook has no childbirth leave policy.

A nonprofit declares that their work will advance racial equality. Their staff of 100 only has 1 Black person.

I’ve seen organizations working in Sub-Saharan Africa that didn’t have any Africans on their teams.

I — AM — SO — TIRED — OF — THIS!

I worked for seven years in the nonprofit space. I rarely had an employer take good care of me, as a woman…


Locations to Choose and Avoid for 2060

Old man and wife at beach wearing yellow hats
Old man and wife at beach wearing yellow hats

Photo by Brett Meliti on Unsplash

If you are like most people in their 20s and 30s, planning for your retirement means maxing out your 401k contributions at work. You might have an IRA account too. Maybe even real estate. You might be consulting a financial planner who tells you that you are on track for your target investment amount.

It won’t do you much good if your house is underwater, if your city runs out of water, or if the economy (and your stock market investments) totally collapses under the weight of climate migration.

Climate change has measurable effects…


Suburban Architecture Shows Our Assumptions and Our Ableism

Woman in wheelchair on neighborhood street. Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash

Not a single house in my neighborhood is wheelchair accessible, not even the ground floor. Every house could be.

Why should I care? After all, I am not in a wheelchair. I have never needed a wheelchair — yet. One day, though, I will. And you will too.

Why? It might be a broken leg. Or a complicated pregnancy. Or a torn knee-tendon. Injuries after a car accident. Complications from Lyme’s disease. Rheumatoid arthritis. Old age.

The reasons people end up in wheelchairs are numerous and usually unexpected. We assume our own good health until we lose it. Those who…


Not Being Able to Do Much For Someone Is Exhausting

Woman hides under covers on bed
Woman hides under covers on bed
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

My sister came down to visit me for the first weekend of November. We’d both been playing it safe during the pandemic— masking, avoiding crowds, etc. She figured that the early part of the month would be better for traveling than Thanksgiving. We didn’t reckon on Chicagoland having a massive outbreak the week she left.

Since the epidemic started, it’s been my sister’s health that I have worried about more than my own. Her immune system is not the best.

She felt fine the day that she traveled. The next day, she had a sore throat. Her roommate also developed…


They Might Be Your Guide to Happiness

Woman looks at viewer through rear view mirror in car on crowded road
Woman looks at viewer through rear view mirror in car on crowded road
Photo by Blake Barlow on Unsplash

As a junior in college, I looked at a study abroad program that would have let me spend a semester at Oxford. I decided not to apply, largely because I had just started dating a cute boy. That cute boy became my husband two years later. To this day, we are happily married. To this day, I regret not doing a semester in Oxford.

Why would I regret my decision when it made romance with the love of my life easier?

Silly Regrets

One answer is that regret isn’t a logical emotion. I am admittedly someone who hates choosing one thing because…


Concerns and outcomes around raising pay

Coffee shop. Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

Last week I published “A $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Cut It”. The one comment I received was a criticism that relied on two arguments: One — not all jobs are worth a “middle-class income”. Two — small businesses would collapse if required to pay minimum wage. Those are pretty typical arguments against raising the minimum wage. Let’s take a close look at the second objection.

Small businesses are under a lot of strain these days. Some industries have been hit particularly hard: local restaurants, entertainment companies, and non-grocery retailers. They are hurting. Some estimates say 31% of small businesses have…


We should fight for localized living wages instead

Homeless man takes care of his cat in Philadelphia, USA. Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Can you afford living in America? For more than half of this nation, the answer is “no.”

A little bit of this is due to the present pandemic. Since this started, homelessness has gone up. Lines for food pantries now routinely wrap around the block down the street. Since the initial dip in the spring, employment has come back up. The stock market has rebounded. Investors feel cheerful. But family finances are shaky for many and downright desperate for some.

People may have found jobs, but clearly, the jobs aren’t enough.

This…


Four steps to evaluate an organization before giving them money

Woman holding out coins. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As year-end comes into view, many families start to think more about giving. For some, the motivation to give is tax-deductions. For others, it’s the spirit of Christmas. But every year, just as people start getting into the spirit of giving, a number of articles and memes will circulate telling everyone who does NOT deserve their money.

“Don’t give to Operation Christmas Child. It’s not worth the shipping cost!”

“Don’t give to the Salvation Army! They don’t actually pay their thrift store workers fair wages.”

“Don’t give to the Red Cross! …


Everyone tells you about the cost of having a child. No one tells you about the cost of losing one before birth.

Baby angel in red. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

October is pregnancy loss awareness month. This year, the month began with Chrissy Teigan sharing the loss of her little baby boy. I felt for her, so much, having gone through a similar loss myself.

Three years ago, I was lying on the couch in the evenings, dizzy and distraught due to a complicated miscarriage of what my ObGyn suspected had been an ectopic pregnancy. I had just started a job a month before that. I didn’t have any accrued Personal Time Off. I didn’t have any savings. What I did have were a lot of medical appointments. This is…

Johanna Tatlow

Freelance writer trying to make the world a better place

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store