First Year Finances

Investing in Each Other

Continued (page 2 of 3)

For the newlyweds, having a new business has meant compromising on certain goals, like using funds for a vacation or special purchases. A retirement plan has been put on the back burner as well. Though the Halls have an IRA account, they haven't contributed to it since launching Melt. Long-term targets have also been delayed. "We're still living in an apartment and saving for a house," says Kristin. The Halls hope this goal will be achieved within the next six months. "It takes a while to build a business," says Bill. "Banks want to see where you stand before giving you a new mortgage."

Eighty-hour workweeks have made the Halls examine their personal lives. "Melt is so important to us and our main focus," says Kristin. "Sometimes we have to take a day off and step away so we can concentrate on how we're going to build our lives." This includes another goal on their list. Says Kristin, "We want to start a family while growing the business."

Bill has a rule to ensure the couple's personal lives stay on track. "You have to be your own number-one priority and not let the business own you," he says. "So we have to know how to manage our own time and where to draw the line." For the Halls, this means the minute they lock Melt's door at the end of the day, they leave business behind until the next day.

Melt celebrates its second anniversary this June. With this benchmark comes reflection. "In the beginning, we wore a lot of hats," recalls Bill. "In terms of business and strategy, we want to build our business, add employees, and begin to delegate so we can take a reasonable amount of time off." Their efforts appear to be paying off. "We have a very identifiable plan that's working in accordance with our business plan," says Bill. "There are challenges, but from the beginning to now, it gets easier and easier."

Kristin believes Melt has added to their success in numerous ways. "As co-owners of a business, it helps that we work together every day," she says. "The structure we've set up really helps us know where we're at financially." A good thing, as they intend to open multiple locations of Melt in the future. When in need of advice, they turn to their long-time accountant, though they know they may have to supplement his services as the business grows.

Asked if they feel richer or poorer since joining forces, their answer is firm. "Everybody wants to be rich," says Bill. "We just try to keep it real—we're happy with where we are and what we have."

The Experts Weigh In

Kaiser says that Kristin and Bill definitely got their financial future off to a good start by making money discussions a priority. Not only that, they devised a plan, budgeted and followed through—all key things to achieve long-term success. "The fact that they really thought through the details of budgeting and the benefits of that paid off," Kaiser says, pointing to the money they saved from their wedding budget as an example. "That's because they budgeted. It wouldn't have happened if they hadn't tracked expenses and knew where they stood down to the last dollar." According to Kaiser, setting a budget needn't be complicated. "The basics are keep it simple, keep it real, and know where you stand. That's what's leading Kristin and Bill down a path of success."

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