Cherie Lowe has written about money as "The Queen of Free" for more than a decade. She told the story of how her family paid off $127,482.30 in debt in her first book, "Slaying the Debt Dragon." Now, she and her husband Brian, a family law attorney, are looking to help couples with new book "Your Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and Their Intimate Connection." Being thrifty consumers, we asked the Lowes why their book is worth the money.
What do romance & finance have to do with each other?
"Everything is built on a foundation of trust, whether it be money or whether it be intimacy," Brian said.
If you can trust each other with money, you can trust each other in the rest of your relationship, he added. Couples who are fighting about money probably aren't ending those fights with hot nights of passion, Cherie said. Sex and money are two big reasons couples split up, and problems with the latter can lead to problems with the former.
What on earth is 'financial foreplay?'
The concept of "financial foreplay" is woven throughout the book. In fact, it was the original title, Cherie said.
"To us," Brian said, "financial foreplay simply means husbands and wives investing in smart financial habits and relational capital."
Or, as Brian puts it, "Taking care of bank business so you can get down to business in bed."
What is an unhealthy money habit couples fall into?
Hiding purchases from each other is a red flag, Cherie said.
"Hiding expenses, hiding money is a huge, huge breakdown in communication because it's deceitful," she said.
Cherie said it's not far from infidelity.
"Both result in a very broken trust," she said.
How to avoid falling into this habit? Regular conversations about finances.
"You and your spouse need to be talking to each other about what transactions you made," as well as other expenses and financial goals, Cherie said. "It needs to be part of the fabric of your marriage. It needs to be regular and intentional."
While paying off their $127,000 in debt, Cherie and Brian made a rule: Any time they wanted to spend more than $10 on anything outside of their regular budget, they had to loop each other in.
Brian said couples already experiencing a big rift over money may need to enlist a third party, like a counselor.
How do you save money on date night?
Those who buy the book get access to an online guide that includes 50 free and cheap date ideas. They include cooking dinner at home after the kids have gone to bed and checking out free local concerts.
"You have to do a little research and get a little creative, but there are plenty of ways to get a free date night," Cherie said.
She suggested setting up a "romance budget." It could be as a change jar, but it's important to invest in your relationship.
What was it like to write a book with your partner?
"The goal was to write a book about marriage and stay married," Cherie said.
Surprisingly, she said, the couple didn't argue through the process.
"It was just another avenue for us to spend time with each other," Cherie said.
Brian said they remembered they're married to each other, not the words.
"Because we're in the habit of knowing each other's needs and listening to each other, it makes it easier to write a book together," he said.
This book costs $16.99. Why should I spend my money on it?
$16.99, we pointed out to the Lowes, can buy you a Kylo Ren interactive action figure with more than 60 motion-activated sound effects and phrases. Why would you trade that for a book?
"Kylo Ren could make a very good reading buddy," Cherie said. "If you read the book, I think you can manage your finances well enough that you could afford both."
She said "Your Money, Your Marriage" isn't your average personal finance book.
"It's chock-full of narrative and story," Cherie said. "Every chapter concludes with some discussion questions you can go through with your spouse," as well as concrete steps to take.
The Lowes also say they don't scold. They may be the couple that got out of $127,000 in debt, but they're also the couple that got into $127,000 in debt.
"We have been there and we know what that does to your marriage," Cherie said. "We want to provide for people that feel helpless."
"Your Money, Your Marriage" is published by Zondervan and goes on sale Sept. 25.
Image: Cherie and Brian Lowe