CNBC make it 2024-03-05 02:50:52


41-year-old and her family left the U.S. for Costa Rica and live on less than $30,000 a year

Kema Ward-Hopper never imagined she’d raise her children in the middle of a jungle.

But in 2018, after Hurricane Harvey destroyed her Houston home, a trip to Costa Rica with her husband Nicholas Hopper and then 9-year-old daughter Aaralyn became a permanent move. 

“The housing market was just insane in Houston because of so many people losing their homes to the storm,” Ward-Hopper tells CNBC Make It. “At the time, we were living in a small garage apartment above a neighbor’s home, with no relief in sight.”

Hopper suggested they house hunt elsewhere. “I thought he meant we should move to a different city in Texas or a different state, but he looked at me and said, ‘No Kema, let’s leave the country,’” Ward-Hopper, 41, recalls. 

From Hopper’s perspective, moving to Costa Rica was a no-brainer. 

The couple got married there in 2016 and had been itching to return, but life — whether it be bills, jobs or family obligations — kept delaying their plans. 

“When we came back to Houston [after the wedding], we both had this calmness about us, and I felt like we were missing out on something by staying in the states,” Hopper, 43, says.

In July 2018, after spending six weeks scoping out different neighborhoods along Costa Rica’s northern coastline and debating if they were ready to become expats, the Ward-Hoppers signed a one-year lease on a house (or “casita” in Spanish) in the middle of the jungle on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. 

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom house sat on seven acres of land in the middle of the jungle near Playa San Miguel and came with an outdoor kitchen as well as panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean — plus, rent was only $500 a month. 

“Ten years ago, I would not have believed you if you told me that this is where we would be,” Ward-Hopper says. “But it feels like luck or fate led us here.”

Fast-forward six years later, and the Ward-Hoppers are now permanent residents of Costa Rica, with no plans to move back to Texas. “We’re a lot happier living here than in the U.S.,” Ward-Hopper says.

Finding a healthier lifestyle for body and soul in Costa Rica

Another pivotal moment in the couple’s decision to leave the United States was Ward-Hopper’s cancer recovery.

In April 2016, mere months before her wedding, Ward-Hopper discovered she had stage 2B breast cancer. 

“Undergoing chemotherapy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. “I only completed half of the prescribed infusions because I felt like if I did any more, it would kill me.” 

Ward-Hopper paused treatment right before her wedding. She expected to feel ill during her ceremony and honeymoon but, much to her surprise, Ward-Hopper says she felt better than she had in months while vacationing in Costa Rica.

“Suddenly I had enough energy to get up in the morning and do yoga and go on hikes, I was eating more,” she says. “I really felt like I was healing while we were there, in no small part because of the fresh fruit, clean air and water.”

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the five original Blue Zones, home to the longest-lived people and highest life expectancies, according to longevity researcher Dan Buettner.

Some of the factors that make Nicoya a Blue Zone, Buettner discovered, are the Nicoyans’ diet, which includes fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains as well as their focus on family and community.

Both Ward-Hopper and her husband say that they saw immediate benefits from living in a Blue Zone for their health including getting sick less, losing weight, feeling more energized and less stressed. 

An added bonus was the birth of their son Nico in 2020, even after doctors said chemotherapy had rendered Ward-Hopper unable to conceive. “I got pregnant within 13 months of living here, which I thought was impossible,” she says. “It was a small miracle.”

Nico’s arrival also introduced another element of stability to their lives by making the entire family eligible for citizenship in Costa Rica. Previously, the Ward-Hoppers stayed in Costa Rica on tourist visas, which meant they had to leave the country every 90 days, time they used as opportunities to explore neighboring countries like Nicaragua or visit family in the U.S.

Ward-Hopper’s doctors in the U.S. said they no longer detected cancer calls in her body in 2017, and in 2021, her doctor re-affirmed that she was cancer-free, an outcome she attributes in part to her decision to live in Costa Rica. For many breast cancer survivors, the risk of recurrence five years post-diagnosis significantly decreases, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Health-wise, I did a complete 180 after moving here,” Ward-Hopper says. “I healed both physically and emotionally.”

Ward-Hopper also credits Costa Rica’s health-care system for her improved well-being. 

As citizens, the Ward-Hoppers receive their health care through the CAJA system, a government-run program that grants 100% coverage for all medical procedures, appointments, hospital visits and prescription drugs. The Ward-Hoppers spend about $83 per month on their family’s health-care plan. 

Even when they were uninsured, Ward-Hopper says their medical expenses were negligible at best. “I remember one visit I had to the emergency room for chest pains and anticipating a bill that would cost thousands of dollars, as it would in the U.S., and it was less than $200,” she adds.

Living comfortably on $30,000 a year

Right before they moved to Costa Rica, the Ward-Hoppers quit their corporate jobs as a research analyst and mortgage broker, respectively, to pursue new careers as entrepreneurs abroad. 

Navigating their new careers — and lives — in Costa Rica didn’t involve much of a language barrier, Ward-Hopper says, as most Costa Ricans speak English, and she and her daughter are proficient in Spanish. Hopper, meanwhile, is enrolled in a beginner Spanish course.

Ward-Hopper now balances four part-time jobs: She’s a health and fitness coach, a Spanish teacher, a host for wellness retreats and, most recently, an author. She self-published her first book, “For my Beloveds: An End-of-life Journal for Guidance & Wisdom,” in September 2023.

Last year, her different income streams earned her about $10,500, according to financial documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. 

Hopper, meanwhile, runs his own remote logistics business, which earned him about $19,500 in 2023.

“Living here has allowed me to explore my passions so that my methods of earning income don’t feel like a job, it just feels like I’m getting to do the things that I love to do, which is to be of service to others,” Ward-Hopper says. “We make less money, but we’re still living pretty comfortably … our money definitely goes further here than in the U.S.” 

In May 2023, the Ward-Hoppers moved to a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house in Nicoya to be closer to Aaralyn’s school, which is public and tuition-free.

Here’s a monthly breakdown of the Ward-Hoppers’ spending (as of November 2023):

Food: $1,200

Rent and utilities: $628

Discretionary: $330

Nico’s school tuition: $284

Phone (U.S. phone plan): $223

Insurance (health, life, car): $99

Subscriptions and memberships: $78

Gas: $67

Total: $2,909

Daily average: $97

Finding their forever home abroad

For the Ward-Hoppers, the biggest challenge of relocating to Costa Rica has been being far from their family and friends in the U.S., and also losing access to certain American resources and products, like Reese’s peanut butter cups, a family favorite they haven’t found in local supermarkets.

But by most measures, the Ward-Hoppers have found the qualify of life to be “much better” in Costa Rica than in the U.S. 

“I’ve had great experiences in the U.S., but we can’t deny the way that people of color are treated there, and we have not had that experience here at all,” Ward-Hopper says. “In Costa Rica, I feel that people are treated as humans first, people are incredibly respectful and kind here.”

In banks and grocery stores, for example, Ward-Hopper has noticed that people will encourage pregnant people and elderly customers to skip to the front of the line. “While it’s not impossible to get that in the States, the baseline isn’t this theme of love, acceptance and community the same way it is here,” she adds. 

The Ward-Hoppers say they plan to stay in Costa Rica for the rest of their lives, even if they plan extended trips to Africa, Europe and other countries in South America. 

“This is where we always want to return to,” Hopper says. “Ultimately, our goal is to build up our savings and build a nice finca [the Spanish word for “estate”] for our family here.”

Hopper says the lower cost of living and community in Costa Rica has far outweighed any feelings of homesickness he’s felt since the move.

He adds: “I’m definitely happier living in Costa Rica than I used to be in the U.S. I’ve gained my family back being here, I’ve gained the opportunity to spend more time with them and not only create more freedom in myself but also more freedom within our family to explore our dreams.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Residents of these 10 states are the most stressed out in America—New York didn’t make the list

More than a quarter of U.S. adults say that most days, they are so stressed out it’s hard to function, according to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” poll.

While some stress is normal and can actually be good for you, once stress reaches a chronic level it can cause health problems like insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And residents of some states seem to be more stressed than others.

DON’T MISS: Utah is the happiest state in America—California and Florida didn’t make the top 3

Wellness brand, Komowa, created a ranking of the most and least stressed states in America. The company compared U.S. states based on 16 key indicators of stress including hours worked, credit card debt, divorce rates, commute times and more.

Key indicators were grouped by similarities and boiled down to four main categories:

  • Money stress
  • Work stress
  • Health stress
  • Family stress

To create the ranking, Komowa used data from the CDC, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and more.

Surprisingly, New York and California didn’t make the top 10 on the list. In fact, New York landed the 24th spot and California came in at No. 25.

States were also ranked by individual categories including the highest credit card debt and the longest commute time.

New York earned the top spot for the longest commute time with an average of 33.2 minutes, but actually didn’t land at No. 1 for the most hours worked. Residents of Louisiana seem to work the most with an average of 44.3 hours a week.

Alaska earned the top spot for the highest credit card debt with an average of $7,338, and Wisconsin had the lowest credit card debt average of $4,808.

The state with the most stressed residents in America: Tennessee

At No. 1 for the overall list of the most stressed states in the U.S. is Tennessee, according to Komowa.

The Volunteer State scored very high for the most health stress, coming in third place for the highest level of depression prevalence (24.4%).

15.5% of residents also said “their physical health isn’t good for more than 14 days a month.”

Residents of Tennessee also work more than the average American. The state came in at No. 3 for most hours worked with an average of 42.3 hours a week.

Tennessee also scored pretty low when it came to residents’ yearly income and ability to work from home. Residents also had one of the longest average commute times.

The top 10 most-stressed states in America

  1. Tennessee
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Louisiana
  5. Nevada
  6. South Carolina
  7. Georgia
  8. Arizona
  9. West Virginia
  10. Indiana

Alabama ranked at No. 2, largely due to work stress and health stress. Residents of the Heart of Dixie worked more hours than most Americans, earned a lot less and had one of the highest divorce rates.

Coming in at No. 3 is Oklahoma with the top spot for health stress which can be directly linked to the percentage of residents without healthcare. The level of depression prevalence is high for residents of the state as well.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

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29-year-old makes $125,000 working in tech without a bachelor’s degree—here’s how

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Ditching the Degree series, where women who have built six-figure careers without a bachelor’s degree reveal the secrets of their success. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at AskMakeIt@cnbc.com.

Ayana Dunlap had her dream job picked out before she even graduated high school. 

She would spend her adult life somewhere exotic behind the front desk of a hotel in a designer suit helping guests, just like the polished women she met on vacation with her mom.

For a while, Dunlap lived out her childhood fantasy. She landed her first front desk job when she was 18 at a small hotel near Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, right before graduating high school, and continued to work at hotels well into her 20s. 

“I thought I found my forever career,” she tells CNBC Make It

In college, she chose to pursue an associate’s degree in business administration, thinking the concentration — and the shorter timeline to graduation, compared to a bachelor’s degree — would bring her one step closer to becoming a hotel manager. Dunlap graduated from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania in 2016.

Now, the 29-year-old laughs at the plans she made almost 10 years ago.

Dunlap was one of the millions of hotel and restaurant employees who lost their jobs in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and were pushed into new careers as furloughs and lockdowns dragged on.

Even though she doesn’t have the job she wanted as a kid, Dunlap found a different vocation she loves: technology. 

Dunlap has been working in tech since 2020. Currently, she’s the assistant vice president of operations and information technology at the Bank Policy Institute, a public policy, research and advocacy group that represents U.S. banks in Washington, D.C. 

She’s earning about $125,000 in her role, according to financial documents reviewed by CNBC Make It — a salary that Dunlap says would have been “unimaginable” at this point in her career, had she stayed in hospitality. 

Here’s how she pivoted her career and earns six figures without a bachelor’s degree

Getting into IT without experience 

Dunlap jokes that she was working in tech long before it became official, as her older co-workers would come to her for computer help at nearly every job she’s had. 

She moved to the Washington, D.C. area right after college and spent several years working for Widewaters Hotel Group & Magna Hospitality Group on their sales team, out of different hotels in the DMV area. Right before the pandemic started, she worked as a senior sales manager out of the Hilton Garden Inn Tysons Corner.

“I was the youngest person on my team, and always getting pulled to unfreeze computer screens, edit documents and refresh WiFi connections,” she says. “But I didn’t mind it, I always thought it was fun.” 

Dunlap didn’t consider turning her knack for computers into her career until she was laid off from her sales job in June 2020. 

Weeks after losing her job, she remembers sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor, venting to her friends on FaceTime, feeling “anxious and unsure” about what to do next. 

“I spent years working in the same industry and building up my career, only for the pandemic to put it on an indefinite hold,” she recalls. 

One of her friends mentioned a free online course that she had seen advertised on Google: a 15-week IT support course from Per Scholas, a national tech training non-profit headquartered in New York. 

As part of the course, Dunlap would receive three certifications: A Google IT support certificate, CompTIA Security+ certification and CompTIA Network+ certification. Another benefit: Per Scholas partners with employers across the U.S. to recruit and recommend candidates from their boot camps for open tech roles.

Dunlap started the Per Scholas program in August and graduated in November with an offer for a hybrid job in hand as a tier 2 technical support engineer at designDATA, an IT services and consulting firm headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

While working there, Dunlap was tasked with helping organizations prepare to return to the office, by setting up their desktops, routers and printers on-site. 

One of those organizations, the Bank Policy Institute, would make Dunlap an offer she says she couldn’t refuse. 

Skills worth six figures 

After weeks of helping the Bank Policy Institute prep for their return to the office, its president and CEO, Greg Baer, invited Dunlap to work with them full-time. 

Dunlap was hesitant to leave designDATA, having worked there for just under a year, but those doubts dissipated as soon as she received her offer letter. 

The Bank Policy Institute wanted to give her a better title — Assistant Vice President of Operations and Information Technology — and more money. Dunlap’s starting salary would be $80,000, which was “competitively more” than what she was making at designDATA (she declined to share her exact salary). 

Dunlap started her new role in August 2021. She’s received two raises since joining the Bank Policy Institute, based on job evaluations and taking on more responsibilities. The first, in 2022, bumped her salary to about $98,000. A subsequent raise, effective in January, raised her annual compensation to $125,000.

The IT and AV support skills Dunlap learned in the Per Scholas program — problem-solving, understanding different operating systems and diagnosing software or hardware faults — played a big role in her ability to transition into tech without a bachelor’s degree. But so did the soft skills she picked up while working in hotels, namely communication and customer service.

Customer service, in particular, is a “game-changer” that can help you stand out from other candidates competing for the same tech job, Dunlap adds. 

“I think a lot of people forget that being patient and friendly is so important when you’re helping people with stressful computer issues,” she explains. “I was told, directly, that having that skillset, just by working in hospitality, was a huge bonus.”

Dunlap’s biggest piece of advice for others hoping to land a high-paying job without a bachelor’s degree? Don’t underestimate the value of your transferable skills. 

“Sometimes, society deems people who don’t have a four-year degree as uneducated, but just because you choose not to pursue that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself in other ways and bring value to the table. You can read books, take boot camps online, there are so many ways to improve your skills,” she says. “If you take stock of what you’re good at and lean into that, you’ll go far in your career.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

23-year-old’s dorm room side hustle brings in $124,000 a year: ‘You can start with as little as $5’

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustle series, where people with lucrative side hustles break down the routines and habits they’ve used to make money on top of their full-time jobs. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at AskMakeIt@cnbc.com.

Technically, Sophie Riegel didn’t spend a penny starting her side hustle.

She began with items she already had, searching through her closet for old clothing to sell online. After making $200 off her own used clothes, she turned to some of her favorite places to shop: thrift stores.

“I’ve been a thrifter my entire life, because I don’t like spending money,” says Riegel, 23. “I’d much rather spend $5 than $100 on a pair of pants.”

Since April 2020, she’s turned that habit into a lucrative side hustle. Riegel brought in nearly $123,800 in revenue last year reselling items she bought from thrift stores on online marketplaces like eBay, Mercari and Poshmark, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

She’s made more than $192,000 in net profit over the past four years, because her costs are minimal: Riegel estimates she’s spent just over $50,000 on the thrifted clothing she’s sold. Other expenses include shipping costs and gas money for driving from thrift store to thrift store. Online marketplaces keep between 10% and 20% of her sales.

Much of her business’ growth came from her dorm room at Duke University, where she graduated last year with a degree in psychology. She’s pursuing a full-time career as a professional writer, speaker and life coach —  and expects her side hustle to comprise roughly 50% of her income this year, she says.

“I started buying things for $5 to $10, flipping them for $50 to $100,” says Riegel. “That seemed to work really well. I had maybe 200 or so items in my dorm room my sophomore year, and now I have 1,300 items [in a storage unit].”

Here, Riegel discusses the work she put in to turn her love of thrifting into a six-figure annual business, along with tips for anyone else to follow in her footsteps.

CNBC Make It: You’re already coaching clients to start their own thrifting side hustles. What are some of your best tips for people who want to replicate your success?

Riegel: The biggest thing is you’ve got to have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.

Start with what you know the most about. If you know a lot about clothing, start with that. It can be really easy to just buy a lot — that’s the fun part — but it doesn’t sell if you don’t list it. So even if your listing is imperfect, get it up, get it out there, because there’s a market for everything.

Keep learning. If you go in with a mindset of “I already know this stuff, I don’t need any resources,” it’s likely that you won’t do as well as if you went in with the mindset of “This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about myself, about brands, and all of that.”

I followed tons and tons and tons of other resellers on YouTube. I spent hours and hours learning brands, learning how to use all of the platforms. I’ve learned the strategies of each of the stores I go to, and figured out when they put out the new shoes when they do X, Y and Z.

The Goodwills in my area put a new color out every week. So, when I go to those stores, I only look for that color.

How much cash do you need to start a thrifting side hustle?

Factoring in shipping and all of that stuff — obviously, you need to pay for gas — $100 makes sense.

[In terms of the thrifting], you can start with as little as $5. You get one good thing for $5 and you’ve got more money already: $5 turns into $20, turns into $100.

If you start with your own stuff, you need $0.

What are the most important traits someone needs to succeed at this?

You’ve got to be consistent and persistent. Right now, I list 10 to 20 items a day. And because I list every day, things are selling constantly.

You’ve got to be organized. You have to be patient — I’m not very good at that, but I’m working on it.

The biggest thing is: You’ve got to be willing to ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to do this all alone. When I first started, my dad helped me with all of my shipping. He helped me move everything from different storage units. I didn’t have to do it alone because I asked for help.

Do you see yourself expanding your side hustle in the future? What would that look like?

I’m pretty happy with where I am. I do see, in the future, potentially having employees do all of the stuff that I know I don’t want to do — like the shipping, listing and photographing. That would be great. It is a lot of work for one person.

But right now, I wouldn’t change it because I love what I do.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Couple earns up to $70,000 a month, but still feels stressed about money

Sandra, 46, and Brad, 48, have checked off two important aspects of wealth-building: a large net worth and a clear idea of where their money goes each month. But Sandra still doesn’t feel like they’re doing well financially.

“On paper we’re not broke, but it feels like we are,” she recently told self-made millionaire Ramit Sethi on his “I Will Teach You to be Rich” podcast. Their last names were not used.

The couple has been married for 25 years, amassing a net worth of $1.3 million as of the time of the podcast’s recording. But they’re at odds with each other over how they each approach and handle money.

Brad has been the primary breadwinner throughout most of their marriage, but his income varies month to month. Sandra didn’t contribute much income-wise to the couple’s finances until a little over a year ago, she told Sethi.

Sandra’s main financial contribution is tracking the couple’s inflows and outflows and policing spending whenever money is tight, which happened often at the beginning of their marriage.

″[Budgeting] became easy when we were making a lot of money,” she said on the podcast. “When it’s not easy, it’s watching everything and being meticulous with where the money’s going and keeping track of it and being stressed about it.”

Sandra maintains a number of spreadsheets where she tracks dozens of goals and spending categories, but doing it on her own and having to tell Brad when they can’t spend any more in a given month makes her feel stressed out and guilty. Brad feels like he does all he can to achieve their goals, but will never meet the high standard she sets, he told Sethi.

As Sethi has pointed out to other couples, it isn’t always about the numbers.

“Most people genuinely believe that this process of tracking every last cent puts them in control of their money,” Sethi said. “People even describe this process as ‘managing money.’ But it’s not.”

Here’s why Brad and Sandra struggle to see eye to eye and how Sethi helped them understand what it really means to take control of their finances.

They have false money identities

Brad works in the mortgage industry, which has meant earning between $60,000 and $70,0000 a month in a good year for the housing market. But there have also been leaner periods where he relied on income from an event business and savings from the better years.

Going through so many ups and downs has contributed to the fact that Sandra never feels secure about money, even in a month when they’re bringing in $70,000.

“The identity you have created for yourself around money might not be fully accurate with reality,” Sethi told her.

There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe when it comes to spending, especially when you have a variable income. But being too afraid to spend the money they do have has added stress to Sandra’s budget plan and the couple’s relationship.

On the flip side, Brad tends to overcompensate for his lower-earning periods with risky investments that add to Sandra’s unease.

“One of the primary reasons for Brad’s extremely risky approach with money is that once people feel behind, feel like they have to catch up or even that it’s too late, they start to make increasingly frantic, risky decisions, which, of course, is a cycle,” Sethi said.

They get hung up on small details

Because they’re so focused on budgeting around the fluctuations in Brad’s income, the couple has become somewhat paralyzed in terms of long-term goal-setting and financial planning, Sethi said.

“They use [variable income] as an excuse not to move forward, when in reality, it’s the tiniest of speed bumps,” Sethi said. “And by using that as an excuse, they get to avoid doing the real substantial, often hard work.”

It goes back to Sethi’s point about what it truly means to manage money. Brad and Sandra may be getting caught up in small details that won’t ultimately move the needle. Brad says he goes so far as watching his speed while driving to ensure he’s maximizing his fuel efficiency to fit in with Sandra’s budget, for example.

“Managing money is focusing on high value areas, like deciding what your rich life is, setting up appropriate categories and discussing what kind of monitoring you want for those categories,” Sethi said. ”[It’s] deciding on critical questions like your savings rate and your debt payoff date — those decisions are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

They struggle with communication

While Brad and Sandra may be too hung up on the numbers, Sethi said the bigger issue is that they don’t have the same goals for those numbers.

“The real issue is that they have so many layers of distrust and contempt that they can’t really communicate about this one thing,” he said.

Sandra stresses the budget and the frugality so much because she’s afraid they won’t be able to take care of themselves and their kids. Brad also wants to make sure his family is taken care of, but feels like there’s not a dollar amount that will actually make Sandra feel satisfied.

“I get very frustrated with that same conversation over and over again, whether we’ve got a lot of money in the bank or whether we’ve got very little money in the bank,” Brad said. “I feel like we’re playing a very opposite game.”

Sethi challenged them to ask each other what safety really means to the other person and how they can get there together. If it means a higher income, then they have to compromise and work together to bring in more money, not rely on one party to handle it on their own.

Communicating more clearly and specifically, plus collaborating to find solutions that work for both partners, can help them figure out a financial plan that fits their needs, allowing them to stop fighting over every dollar.

“I understand the fear, [but] being frantic is not going to get you what you want,” Sethi told Sandra. “It’s actually going to be more important for you to connect with Brad.”

Check out the full podcast episode here.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.