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105: Heather and Douglas Boneparth – From Corporate to Co-Founders: The Journey to Financial Collaboration

In this episode I speak with Douglas and Heather Boneparth. Douglas, a seasoned financial advisor, and Heather, a former corporate attorney, share their journey and insights on managing finances within a relationship. They discuss the evolution of their financial strategies, especially in light of the global pandemic and how it necessitated a shift in their approach to money and partnership.

They emphasize the complexities of merging finances in a relationship, emphasizing that it’s not a one-time event but a continuous process. They highlight the importance of communication and understanding each other’s financial backgrounds and perspectives.

They also touch on their upcoming book, The Merge, which navigates financial power dynamics within relationships, aiming to provide couples with tools to manage their finances harmoniously. It covers the personal challenges they faced, such as the impact of career changes and the dynamics of working together professionally.

Join us as we explore the importance of ongoing dialogue and mutual understanding in managing finances as a couple, ensuring that both partners feel valued and empowered.

Key Takeaways

00:02:00 – Douglas and Heather’s Early Career and Financial Struggles

00:11:02 – Shift in Career Dynamics and Financial Contributions

00:15:33 – The Importance of Communication in Financial Relationships

00:30:14 – Growth and Success in Their Business

00:40:14 – Advice for Couples Considering Marriage

00:41:57 – Importance of Communication Over Financial Mechanics

Memorable Quotes

“A global pandemic was not something we accounted for. Whatever we did to set up our financial life before then was no longer relevant to the world we live in now. It’s a constant search for equity, balance, and communication to maintain a healthy relationship with money and each other.”

“I grew up watching my father and grandfather as entrepreneurs, which baked into my DNA the understanding of money as a tool. This contrasted with Heather’s experience, where money was a source of anxiety and not feeling in control.”

“It’s not just about how you merge your money the first time; it’s about how you stay together over the decades. The real challenge is in how couples communicate about money, the autonomy they feel in spending, and how they value each other’s contributions beyond financial earnings.”

Guest Resources

Website – https://www.bonefidewealth.com

Douglas LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglasboneparth

Douglas Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/dougboneparth/

Douglas Twitter – https://twitter.com/dougboneparth

Heather’s Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/averagejoelle/

Heather’s Twitter- https://twitter.com/averagejoell

Mindful Money Resources

For all the free stuff at Mindful Money: https://mindful.money/resources

To buy Jonathan’s first book – Mindful Money: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Money-Practices-Financial-Increasing/dp/1608684369

To buy Jonathan’s second book – Mindful Investing: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Investing-Outcome-Greater-Well-Being/dp/1608688763

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Newsletter: https://courses.mindful.money/email-opt-in

Capture the most important benefit of an advisor – behavioral support – without the 1% fee: https://courses.mindful.money/membership

For more complex, one on one financial planning and investing support with Jonathan or a member of Jonathan’s team: https://www.epwealth.com/our-team/berkeley/jonathan-deyoe/

Website: https://mindful.money

Jonathan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathandeyoe


Podcast Production & Marketing by FullCast

Episode Transcription

Heather Boneparth [0:00 – 0:36]: A global pandemic was not something we accounted for. And frankly, whatever we did to set up our financial life before then, it was no longer relevant to the world that we live in now. And so I think that that is the main message that we’re trying to drive home in this, is that it’s a constant search for equity, it’s a constant search for balance, and a constant search to kind of communicate in a way that allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with money and each other. And that’s kind of what this book is about, that it’s not a one time thing. This is not just about how you merge your money together the first time. It’s how you stay together over the decades to come.

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Jonathan DeYoe [1:04 – 2:00]: Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Douglas and Heather Bonaparte. Douglas Bonaparte is the president and founder of Bona Fide wealth in New York City. He sits on the CNBC Financial Advisory Council and is a CFP board ambassador for New York. I know him as the funny financial advisor with a great hair on Twitter or whatever you call it now, and I hear he’s on Instagram, but I never seen him there. I don’t frequent lots of social media. Heather Bonaparte is a writer recovering corporate attorney who now runs business and legal affairs for the firm. You can find her on Instagram as well, though I haven’t seen her there. And through the newsletter our tiny Rebellions, which searches for meaning in our little wins and losses, which I love. They wrote their first book together about millennials and money while on parental leave with their oldest daughter. Now they’re working on their second book about navigating the power struggles over money and relationships, loosely titled the Merge. Before the book is out, you can subscribe to their newsletter, the joint account. I love the titling. It’s great. Douglas, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Douglas Boneparth [2:00 – 2:01]: Thanks for having us.

Heather Boneparth [2:01 – 2:02]: Thanks so much for having us.

Jonathan DeYoe [2:02 – 2:11]: I’m excited for the conversation. I’ve been following Douglas for a while, as I mentioned, and I’m excited to finally sort of meet you guys face to face. First. Where do you call home? Where are you connecting from?

Heather Boneparth [2:11 – 2:24]: Sure. We live in one of the many suburbs of New York City on the Jersey side. Now after about a decade in the city, we moved out here seven, eight years ago. We had kids. We said, enough’s enough. We need a house. We need to feel grass.

Douglas Boneparth [2:25 – 2:38]: So, yeah, get outside and touch some grass. That was. I think we’re all. If you’re in New York City, you have this, I guess, delusion, if you will, that you’ll stay there forever. And I think the second we had our first daughter, we were like, we gotta go.

Jonathan DeYoe [2:38 – 2:40]: Too much concrete, too much steel.

Heather Boneparth [2:41 – 2:41]: Yep.

Jonathan DeYoe [2:41 – 2:43]: So do you both grow up in New York?

Douglas Boneparth [2:43 – 2:56]: No, actually, I grew up in south Florida, and Heather is a South Jersey girl. And we both met at the University of Florida when we were freshmen in college. We came from different sides or different positions on the coast, if you will.

Heather Boneparth [2:56 – 3:05]: And we question all the time how he ended up back here in New Jersey after we met in Florida. You know, sometimes, especially this time of year, we look at each other and we’re like, what did we do?

Douglas Boneparth [3:05 – 3:10]: Why? Certainly during the winter months, we have a lot of questions that ask ourselves.

Jonathan DeYoe [3:10 – 3:20]: You’re not the only one. My son is actually going to UCLA. He’s a freshman. So he probably needed your wife. I hope not. But his first choice was NYU, and now he’s like, what was I thinking?

Heather Boneparth [3:21 – 3:25]: Oh, he’s so much better off. So much better off. Oh, man.

Jonathan DeYoe [3:25 – 3:32]: I’m curious. What did you guys learn about money and entrepreneurship growing up? Was this part of the household conversation or. What did you learn?

Heather Boneparth [3:32 – 4:19]: Well, I guess I’ll start. You know, I feel very. I mean, it’s a privilege to say that money wasn’t something that I thought about when I was younger. It wasn’t something that I needed to be concerned about. And we were financially secure. I grew up in upper middle class household in New Jersey, and my parents got divorced, though, when I was 13, and I’m an only child. And that really thrust money to the forefront of my life and to the discussion, a daily discussion at home. And so I think the first lessons that I learned about money were all about, like, perceived scarcity. And it wasn’t so much about what we had or didn’t have, but it was about the anxiety that was put on me of what that looked like. And kind of like I deeply, deeply commingled my feelings about money with these other feelings of security. And the lessons weren’t great. They weren’t great. Doug, how about you?

Douglas Boneparth [4:19 – 6:01]: Yeah, yeah, no, a little different experience. I grew up in sunny south Florida. Like I mentioned, I was the son and grandson of serial entrepreneurs. Baked into my DNA was a couple generations of people who had to start businesses, run businesses, sell businesses, and I grew up around that. And I’ve always watched my father be an entrepreneur. He was very good at teaching both my brother and I how to make money. Ironically, being the son of a financial advisor, not necessarily invest money early on, which is something I wish I may have done, but I don’t regret anything. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of lessons. My brother and I ran a computer repair business. We taught computer lessons to mostly older people around the south Florida area. I grew up in Boca Ratons. As PCs were showing up at everyone’s house, people wanted to know how to log on to Sol and send an email, turn on their computer, for crying out loud. Beeps and boops out of a computer would scare any 72 year old in the late nineties. So I had a pretty good experience there and obviously paid some dividends for me starting and practice and becoming an entrepreneur myself. I really haven’t. Outside of working some school jobs at, like, blockbuster, I never really worked for a corporation of any kind. So it’s something that’s very different about Heather and I. But like Heather, I didn’t worry about money too much. I just remember one day being in the back of the car and my father and grandfather, those two entrepreneurs, my grandfather turning around and say something like, and this one over here, pointing, he doesn’t know the value of a dollar. And I was like, what the hell? I didn’t really understand what he was referring to, but I knew I didn’t like it. I didn’t like what he was saying. And that actually had some lasting impact on me. And I vowed not to not understand what meant.

Heather Boneparth [6:01 – 6:37]: But I think that I will say this, that Doug and I, if I were to say, like, to summarize how Doug and I came to our, like, young adult money beliefs, I came from a place of fear and not knowing what was ever enough or not feeling like I was in control because I didn’t know how much money would make me feel more secure in my relationships and my life. And Doug came from a place of understanding, using money as a tool and not feeling afraid because he had control. And he was at least taught how to facilitate the life that he wanted with whatever amount of money it was that he had. So we really came at it from very different angles, which is, I mean.

Jonathan DeYoe [6:37 – 7:05]: That’S normal for couples, right? So before we talk about couples in money, now, I read a recent post. I don’t know who writes the blog post, but one of you writes the blog post. Right. I read a recent post that talked about the merge as sort of a natural consequence of growing up or becoming an adult or becoming a better adult. I kind of have the sense that, Douglas, that might have been you, but given the mindful money audience, or give mindful money audience the dark talk about the work before founding the firm, then starting the firm, then writing the first book, and then how does that lead to this thing, the joint account and the merge?

Douglas Boneparth [7:05 – 9:09]: Yeah, I think Heather was the one who wrote that surprise. But I can happily share with you the story arc and how this all happened. I followed Heather. We got together when we were freshmen in college, and at the end of college, looked at me, I looked at her, and she said, hey, I’m going to law school. And I said, definitely go to the best school you get into. I really didn’t think about anything other than what was best for her. And the choices were staying in, going to South Florida or going to the northeast. And the Northeast offered the best option. And off she went to New York City and home I went to begin working in my father’s advisory practice and continue the learning that I was getting throughout undergrad push came the shove. It was not an enjoyable learning. Personal finance and wealth management was great. I really did enjoy that and picking up those skills that would serve me well throughout my career, but I didn’t really enjoy living and working in my childhood home. And he followed Heather to New York City, and that was October 2008. So just in time to really watch the entire financial world, global financial world, implode. And that would have really a lot to do with Heather and I’s origin story around money and how we kind of kicked this thing off. So I show up and Heather’s here taking out an extraordinary large amount of student loan debt to put herself through law school. We’re talking multiple six figures at a pretty bleak job environment to follow her graduations. This notion of if you just study hard and keep your head down and graduate and do well in school, whether that’s undergraduate or law school, you’ll turn out all right and you’ll make money and pay on your debt and be on your way, and that promise simply was not there. I mean, that really fundamentally had fallen apart. And then there’s me kind of watching all of this happen to her and our peers, and I decide to go to a business school and another six figures in student loan debt on top of that, so we could start our lives now that we’ve gotten ourselves back on track, just absolutely flooded and in engaging more graduate debt than any person should really have. So we didn’t start at zero. We started at like negative 300,000 to get things going here. And you can, you know the story as well as I do. You can pick up at any point here.

Heather Boneparth [9:09 – 10:59]: I think that the important point was, was that the investments that we thought as young millennial professionals in 2008, 2000, 920, ten, the investments we thought that seemed like responsible things to do. We were following the branding and marketing machine of higher education. You put your head down, you get a good job, and you know all the good in the world will come to you. We were now seeing those promises and kind of just that sell was not panning out for us. And to Doug’s point, he looked around at not just me, but young professionals in many industries around New York City, kind of saying like, I need to invest in these, in my peers before they or anybody else will. Like, I’m going to invest in them before they even are willing to invest more in themselves. Because we were all questioning our skills to understand, like maybe I calculated the return on my own investments incorrectly, like my investment in higher education, like, so Doug founded his firm kind of with the ethos of I’m going to grow with my generation. I’m not going to go for the money grab and try and run around pitching a bunch of older folks. I’m going to try and like, be in the trenches because I’m already here. I’m in the trenches. I’m in the mud with my wife when she’s underpaid and overworked in the world of corporate law in the city. And so, you know, that’s kind of how Doug founded his firm, Bonafide wealth. And from there I kind of like, basically like everything we’ve always done has always been really team oriented. We’ve always just approached our ambition from a collective. So how are we going to do what we want to do? And the way that we were able to do that at first was me kind of picking up the corporate safety net for our household. So I held out a pretty stable corporate job, got the benefits was the early breadwinner in our relationship, while Doug took the risk to grow his firm. And it paid off in dividends. But that was how our dynamic originally.

Douglas Boneparth [10:59 – 11:02]: Started out over time, before the great shift.

Heather Boneparth [11:02 – 11:43]: Well, over time, I mean, look, I’ll be real with you. You want to know, like, what the arc was? The arc was years of being a young woman in a male dominant field, having children in my early thirties. And while Doug’s opportunities were rising and rising, mine were plateauing from a corporate standpoint. And it had nothing to do with my own. I was good at my previous job. I enjoyed the industry to whatever extent that matters in this context. But there was definitely a moment where all of the hard work that we were putting into the firm was starting to pay off more than the hours and the sweat and tears that I was putting into my corporate job.

Jonathan DeYoe [11:43 – 12:25]: So just, by the way, I’m probably 15 years ahead of you in this, but that’s exactly how mine started. My wife was a consultant at Deloitte back 25 years ago, and I started my firm in the basement of our house. And I would get up and walk downstairs and start. I wasn’t cold calling, but I would start to, how do I network? Where do I. Who do I call? Who do I talk to? And trying to grow a business? And within two years, she did this very similar thing. And she was actually laid off at a moment when Deloitte was laying everyone off. In, like, 2001 or right after the.com, just prior to the great Recession, we had the.com thing. Same exact scenario in our house. I mean, very interesting. How does this lead to the merge and the joint account? How does that come in? Like, did you have a lot of fights about money or how did it happen?

Heather Boneparth [12:25 – 12:47]: I would say that COVID pandemic. Having two small children. When COVID began March 2020, we had an eleven month old and a four year old. And then we were both working from home. We were now at a point where Doug, from an income standpoint, was making three to four times the amount of money that I was, despite the fact that I was probably objectively working harder than him.

Douglas Boneparth [12:47 – 12:57]: Yeah, like, added it all up, not just in career, but house and kids and all of that. It was just easy to see that she was busting more bot than I was.

Heather Boneparth [12:58 – 13:05]: I had three jobs. I was a mom. I was a full time lawyer, and I was the bonafide wealth business consultant that I always was.

Douglas Boneparth [13:05 – 13:05]: Yeah.

Heather Boneparth [13:05 – 15:33]: And I think that Doug and I have always been so mindful. And like I said, we’ve always had this collective version of we in terms of our ambition and our careers. And I feel like during COVID like, we had just so deeply lost the plot. Like, and I don’t know when the power imbalance became so one sided and so skewed. And it has nothing to do with Doug not being mindful and Doug not being respectful of Mike. This was just where life left us. Like, we had one person who was able to take all these risks. And one, I was kind of, like, achieving, like, the next iteration of success and reaching next levels of success in his career. I’m stuck. I’m working my butt off. And we kind of were like, how did we get here? I’m not happy anymore. And there was a moment where, like, I said to him, I’m starting to be resentful of all the help that I gave him to build and reach this point, even though at one point, like, this was a team and it no longer felt like a team. Yeah. When we talk about the merge, the reason that this is so important to this book and this project we’re in is that I look back at our first book, which we wrote in 2017, right after we refined our student loan debt. We had conquered our debt. We were starting our adult life. It was basically like a pamphlet on adulting, and we really thought we had it all figured out. We had just had our first baby. We wrote a book on maternity leave. What an amazing feat to write a book on maternity leave. So I thought, right, life comes at you quick. Okay. You are in a very different place. You don’t just. And I guess the point being not one thing versus the other thing. Oh, what was the one circumstantial thing that brought you to this point? The point is that everything brought us to this point and that you don’t just win it money once. And you can’t just say, like, I set up our. We set up our accounts correctly, we refined our debt, and now we’ve got it all figured out. That is not the way that life works. A global pandemic was not something we accounted for. And frankly, whatever we did to set up our financial life before then, it was no longer relevant to the world that we live in now. And so I think that that is the main message that we’re trying to drive home in this, is that it’s a constant search for equity, it’s a constant search for balance, and a constant search to kind of communicate in a way that allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with money and each other. And that’s kind of what this book is about, that it’s not a one time thing. This is not just about how you merge your money together the first time. It’s how you stay together over the decades to come.

Douglas Boneparth [15:33 – 17:48]: Yeah. Heather and I have managed to figure out, and it’s probably a product of not just being compatible. And truthfully, we’re opposites in all the ways that really count. So whether it’s an opposites attract or where I lack, she makes the difference up and vice versa. I think one of the things we’ve had to our advantage is being able to communicate with one another over a very long period of time and get to know one another too. When that resentment was forming and COVID being the catalyst that brought it there ultimately to say, all right, we can’t have resentment continue. You can’t be commuting five days a week back to New York City. Everything that we felt and where we are, we seem to work very well together and the practice is growing. I think our hands are being forced and it’s obvious that you and I are going to be working together here. She had said, well, I’m either going to go swing for the fences in my career and in my lane or we’re going to work together. And I never really thought too hard about what her going to swing for defenses were. I was always supportive of whatever Heather wanted to do, but it seemed to be that this is the exact right time and for us to take this leap together, which is interesting because not only have we been working together and collaborating forever, but let us basically look at our own financial lives and realize, as Heather said, wed lost the plot, not just with what are we doing here, but things were good. Things were good to the point of where when things are really good, you start paying attention to certain things like, okay, cool, you’re saving, you’re investing, the kids college funds are being contributed to what do we need to look at here? And this kind of forced us into saying now we need to take a really good, careful look and get back to the way we were, maybe from our early days where when we were really struggling to figure out how to get ahead. And just because we are ahead now doesn’t mean that we can keep take our eyes off the balls. It was this a very big transition just in the last year and a half, but I never really thought there was a pathway that wasn’t working together when we got to that point.

Jonathan DeYoe [17:49 – 17:51]: Yeah, you want to say something, Heather?

Heather Boneparth [17:51 – 18:09]: I was just going to say, because I think we skipped over an important point, was that my corporate job wanted me back in the office four days a week and it was very sudden. After a couple of years, it was like three years in and I won’t say that that forced our hand, but it did force the discussion.

Douglas Boneparth [18:09 – 18:10]: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe [18:10 – 18:29]: Called the question. Yeah, yeah. So I noticed in the introduction of when you introduced the merge, I remember if it was in a blog or one of the like a newsletter. But you sort of asked sort of crowdsourced advice, like, please tell us what are the right questions we should be asking. And if you’re a professional in this space, offer some insights. What did you hear? Like, what did people say, or did you get a lot of response from it?

Heather Boneparth [18:30 – 19:45]: We received some response. I will say. We’ve been interviewing dozens and dozens of real life couples. We still do it. We just did one yesterday, the day before that. And the nature of the conversation keeps changing. I’m not sure, and I don’t mean this to be so, like, no one really was able to help, but, like. But in reality, I think that the interviews revealed what really needed to be asked. And the questions that we get the best answers out of are the ones that really go to your feelings. They’re not so much about the mechanics of tell me how your accounts are set up. Tell me, like, do you have debt? The questions that are the most revealing are the questions about, do you have any regrets? Is there anything that really. That. Is there anything that makes you feel sad about money? What was your earliest money memory, and how did that make you feel like? And what’s so interesting is a lot of times in these conversations that we’re having, it’s not even what people are saying that I’m really taking away from it. It’s what they’re not saying, and it’s also the way that they interact with each other. We are getting, like, this real, like, like, 360 view of these folks that we’re interviewing. It’s very interesting.

Jonathan DeYoe [19:45 – 19:55]: I’m guessing. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that you’re talking to couples, and I’m guessing each side of the couple is surprised by what they’re hearing from the other side. Is that real?

Heather Boneparth [19:55 – 19:55]: Yep.

Jonathan DeYoe [19:55 – 20:00]: Yeah. They don’t have the own experience or they don’t have the questions to ask each other in this area.

Heather Boneparth [20:00 – 20:39]: We have been surprised. I mean, I’ve been surprised because I think at first. So at first, we first put the call out for couples. It was a lot of cfps and their spouses who wanted to speak with us. And then I think that some folks really wanted to, like, do their victory, like, for Doug, I guess. I don’t know. There was a lot of that. There was a lot of, like, well, we have all of our. It’s all set up, and this is the way our investing philosophy goes. I’m like, all right, like, enough. And then over time, we’re getting this. No, really. We’re getting to something else. And I think that, like, we’re definitely, like, learning as much from what people aren’t saying, from what they are. It’s just been very, very interesting, the whole thing. Doug, do you have anything to add on that? I mean, no.

Douglas Boneparth [20:39 – 21:50]: I think you hit the nail on the head there. I think, for me, the biggest takeaway is that we get that follow up communication after an interview. How many people have come back to us and said, wow, this has either put us on the right track, or we haven’t had this conversation that way before. The subsequent conversation that had with my spouse or the conversations we had together has gone further and deeper than any other time. God, we really opened the door for people to have more fluid and open communication. And for me, that’s all I could ever ask for, because one of the main reasons, and Heather asked, and I have similar reasons for writing this book and very different reasons for writing this book, as both individuals and professionals. For me, I always wanted this to be a way to help people do something that’s very hard, which is just talk about money, just open up the communication channel so this becomes more natural and more comfortable. So to hear that just after, you know, a litany of questions in this interview process, to say, this opened the door for us. I mean, it makes me excited to continue working, gives me the motivation to keep working on the project and know that this has the potential to help people in the way that I want it.

Heather Boneparth [21:50 – 22:32]: I just remembered the one other thing I wanted to say on this, which was a lot of couples that were reluctant. If I’ve asked them and reached out to them separately and followed up, I’ve said, why are you reluctant to do it? Are you embarrassed? Whatever they said? No, I just didn’t think my story was interesting. And I said, we’re not looking just to tell an extreme story. We’re looking to normalize everyday behaviors and find trends in our everyday behaviors, because I think that’s really the purpose here, is to validate and bring out into the open just the things that are actually going on in people’s lives. Not looking for just, like, reality show level extremes, although some of those are really fun, too. But that’s not just what we’re looking for.

Jonathan DeYoe [22:34 – 23:04]: I’m curious, has the money power dynamic between the two of you been affected? Because, Douglas, you grew up well. By the age of before 13, you kind of grew up similarly. But after 13, there was a totally different experience, totally different feelings about it. And then on top of that, professionally, Douglas, you studied this stuff, you did this stuff. And I’m guessing, Heather, you come to this without as much knowledge. So there was definitely a power dynamic in the knowing and in the experience. How does that play out in your own lives? And what do you hear from other people in that same space?

Douglas Boneparth [23:04 – 23:52]: It’s funny, Heather says to me all the time as we’re working this project, she goes, Doug, I’m not a financial professional. And I joke, I’m like, are you not at this point? And I think Heather might take for granted just how much through osmosis and being part of the building of this firm, and also her intelligence has really put her in a unique position to understand personal finance. Okay, maybe not as a professional who doesn’t have the credentials, but probably the most informed lay woman you’ll ever meet in the personal finance space, which uniquely positions her to be working on a project here that’s trying to relate to everybody and not to knock my colleagues who write books or do it at a very clinical level. That’s great. And certainly there’s a lot of great literature out there around that, but we’re looking masses on this so well.

Heather Boneparth [23:53 – 24:55]: And not just that, but I just think that there’s something to be said about asking people a question in a way that doesn’t feel clinical. Like Doug said, like, I may not be an advisor, but I’ve deposed many people. Like, I know how to speak to people in a certain way. And I think that, like, what I bring to Doug’s business and what we’re going to bring to this book and to this project and to the joint account is an every woman’s approach to it. I speak to people the way that I speak to people. There is no Heather the financial professional and Heather the regular woman. So I think that we. I kind, and I, and I remind him of this all the time. I said, that’s great what you just said, but say it like a. Say it like a human. Say it like somebody like me would care to listen to it. Because a book is only as good, I mean, a book or any piece of thought leadership is only as good as the people who are really going to pick it up and read it. My goal isn’t just to write a book that’s respected by Doug’s contemporaries and colleagues. My goal is to write a book that a woman like me would go into a store and actually have an interest in picking up.

Douglas Boneparth [24:56 – 25:44]: Yeah, no, 100% on that. I mean, that view that she has is going to be the superpower. And I’m glad you talk about how is the power dynamic shifted. I mean, if anything, I’m a benefactor of the power of that paradigm shifting because I get more of Heather here and I get more of what I need to grow the practice and turn this into iteration of itself. I’m just lucky to have it. And, you know, it’s one of the things that I had hoped would show up early on in us working together and us coming together here. And the reason I felt that way is because I’ve had her as a part time co founder, as she was working her own career and helping raise kids and take on a lot of the invisible workload here and have her full time. So for me, it was a much, much welcomed addition to my professional life here.

Heather Boneparth [25:44 – 26:13]: But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I think it’s an important thing to say when we’re talking about the power dynamic changing during this time. I struggled deeply over the last year and a half with giving up my salary. I mean, yeah, I get paid by the firm, but with giving up my separate income stream because I think that I didnt realize until I left that job, my last corporate job, how much of my self worth I tied to my income and my title.

Jonathan DeYoe [26:13 – 26:33]: I actually want to step in a little bit here because youve now referenced, this has been like the third or fourth reference to the firm that Doug founded, and you seem to still separate it out. I think your co founders, I think that you’ve been working on this together since the very beginning, and you still do that. And I’m wondering about that.

Heather Boneparth [26:33 – 26:42]: It’s really hard. And you want to know something funny? When I email people, I find myself saying that I’ve run business and legal affairs for my husband’s firm.

Douglas Boneparth [26:43 – 26:43]: Exactly.

Jonathan DeYoe [26:43 – 26:44]: That’s wrong.

Douglas Boneparth [26:44 – 26:45]: That’s not right.

Heather Boneparth [26:45 – 26:47]: I know it’s your turn.

Douglas Boneparth [26:47 – 27:41]: And that issue exists within Heather. Not to call you out on it, but this is clearly in Heather’s mind here. She will tell you that I always refer to her as either the co founder or someone who’s been my partner since inception. And our relationship has existed more than twice as long as the firm has. Like, there is Doug and Heather before this firm ever even was an idea in anyone’s mind. And it’s foreign to me that she, it’s foreign to me that she’s not, you know, this partner and co founder. But as Heather just told you, the way that she affixes value to salary and what she was able to do on her own, not only is she only child, and you got to go deep to know Heather in her, you know, childhood years to figure out why she thinks like this, but she’s doing a very good job. And I would agree she still, or she struggled with this.

Heather Boneparth [27:41 – 27:42]: A work in progress.

Douglas Boneparth [27:42 – 27:55]: Works in progress. Heather really struggled with this, and especially in working in a career where you could go deposition to deposition or case to case or whatever, secure a win. All right. You know, we won this case. Onto the next.

Heather Boneparth [27:55 – 28:44]: The feedback loop as being a lawyer is much shorter than it is in your practice and what you guys do. But also just in the life of any entrepreneur, right? You don’t really see the benefit of some of what you’re doing. Like, the payoff may not happen for a very long time. And I’m used to, like, immediate gratification, but I like to see, I like metrics. This very corporate of me. I like metrics. I like to see things trending in certain directions. And also, like, when I joined Doug, like, this was. So I tried to put those constructs into this business where I was like, well, I need to get x, y, z, and if I’m not doing that, then I’m not earning my keep. And if I can’t earn my salary back, I originally said to him, if I can’t earn my salary back in one calendar year, I better go get another job.

Douglas Boneparth [28:44 – 28:58]: And she’s really putting her own feet to the fire. Like, and I literally pull her aside and say, first of all, Heather would have done amazingly well in, like, the brokerage days of this business where, like, you could get big commissions and big rips.

Heather Boneparth [28:58 – 29:04]: Oh, I bought zero f’s, too. Like, I’m not concerned about the ask. Like, yeah, ask anybody anything.

Douglas Boneparth [29:04 – 29:08]: Heather would have been the female broker in Wolf of Wall street. Absolutely.

Jonathan DeYoe [29:08 – 29:09]: I got it.

Douglas Boneparth [29:09 – 30:13]: Yeah, definitely suits who she is. I had to pull her aside and be like, heav, look, like, your reward is in, like, five to ten year increments here. Like, we could close a whole bunch of business. You’re not going to see that revenue probably for twelve to 18 months from now. So you got to get really accustomed to these longer cycles of attaching, you know, your, your worth to things that still is being worked on. But it took her a while to go from, look, you can’t just say, I replicated half of my salary here in the first 18 months by doing XYZ. And the truth is, like, the firm has grown ever since. If I were to look from where Heather started to where we are now, just in terms of business development, the trajectory, we had a point where I’m a little. I’m a little scared, you know? And she’s like, no, we gotta keep. So the part is scared in a good way, you know? So, like, Heather doesn’t even know or see, you know, like, I have the ability to view things long term because I’ve been doing this for 19 years. In just a year and a half, Heather has done so much.

Heather Boneparth [30:14 – 30:14]: She doesn’t.

Douglas Boneparth [30:14 – 30:20]: She can’t even see it. She can’t even see it. I’m just like, whoa, slow down. And she’s like, no, keep going here.

Jonathan DeYoe [30:20 – 30:31]: I don’t want to get off too much on a tangent with this, but I do want to say this is for you, Heather, so that the benefit, the incremental benefit of an ounce of revenue is worth many pounds of value in the firm, for sure.

Douglas Boneparth [30:31 – 30:32]: Right.

Jonathan DeYoe [30:32 – 30:44]: The value in the firm is the thing that will drive your long term future. I’ve gone through this process myself, and it’s not the incremental revenue. And so the ability to grow the firm is everything, 100%.

Heather Boneparth [30:44 – 31:14]: And I think, but again, this goes back to one of those things, like, this is just a central theme of this book, right? You can tell me that, but for me to feel it is something different, and we need both of those to be in harmony. Right. So now I’m starting to feel it. It may have taken 18 months, but I’m getting there. And I think. And a lot of what we’re doing in this book is kind of like the duality of these two things. There’s the financial circumstances that actually exist, and then there’s how we feel about it.

Jonathan DeYoe [31:14 – 31:19]: Yeah, yeah. In the interviews you’re going through, talking to people, what are some of this friction points that you guys are seeing?

Douglas Boneparth [31:20 – 31:21]: Great questions.

Heather Boneparth [31:21 – 31:22]: Always spending.

Jonathan DeYoe [31:22 – 31:23]: Go deeper on that.

Douglas Boneparth [31:23 – 31:24]: What does that mean?

Jonathan DeYoe [31:24 – 31:31]: Because, I mean, in my household, I don’t spend. My wife doesn’t spend. When she says, I want something like, yeah, go get it, whatever. It’s not a. So what do you see in that spending world?

Heather Boneparth [31:32 – 33:04]: It’s not about, like, you spend a lot and you don’t, which is very, you know, I think, very surface level. We spend time talking with people about who feels free to spend. How much autonomy do you feel like you have in spending? That is a deeper question, and we definitely see some friction there. Another area is division of labor. There’s a whole section of our book about caregiving, but really it’s about contribution. And, you know, one of the goals of this book, and, you know, born from our own circumstance that we were speaking about earlier, is society’s definition of contribution is too narrow. It is limited to our, to the salary that we bring into a household. And in reality, contribution is many different things. And I think broadening the definition of contribution and me introducing that concept to some folks over Zoom, you could feel the tension rise in the room where we have a lot of stay at home mothers who have agreed to do this with their partner. And you can feel the shift in the room when we talk about, well, what does so and so bring to the table? And I said, tell me some of the things you do for the household. Starts to list them and then, well. And do you feel like you can go out and buy XYZ? No. Well, why not? And those two things are linked, the freedom to spend and the perception of who’s contributing what and who is deserving of spending the money. You’d think that’s like an archaic, like outdated thing. It’s not like that is very much still what is going on in many households in America.

Jonathan DeYoe [33:05 – 33:22]: What other sort of area, by the way, that’s as I’m hearing that, I’m going, hmm, I’m kind of checking myself a little bit, like, right. How do I present that in a better way so that Kate feels more free to do what she wants? That’s because, yeah. Hey, what do you think, Jonathan? What do you think about this? I’m like, go ahead and do it. Why are you asking me? Go do it. Right.

Heather Boneparth [33:22 – 33:53]: Well, right. It’s not like I don’t say it in the sense that it’s putting some blame on a man. Like, it’s not because a lot of times the idea is that we have a husband saying, I don’t care what the hell she spends money on. I tell her all the time she can go do anything she wants. It’s not just that it’s about valuing contributions and about like how society perceives certain things. So it’s not cultural. Yeah, it’s cultural. It’s not just who’s fault, by the way, culture is a huge not sticking point, but it’s a huge pressure point.

Douglas Boneparth [33:53 – 35:29]: Yeah, I was going to get into that a little bit from different cultures. Yeah. Just when you spend a lot of time in the front end of our conversations talking about cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds, I can tell that a lot of people really haven’t gotten the full download as to what their spouse has experienced in their upbringing or in their environment. And I think that’s where a lot of the post meeting of oh, I didn’t really know that about my spouse, or I think that’s what opens the door to more productive conversations between spouses when they start to really understand what their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds start to look like and whether there was trauma there or not. I had one interview where it grew up very blue collar and was taught to raise a pig every summer, and that pig would ultimately be sold at the fair, and that pig turned into their first car after three or four summers and really understanding how their idea of money and their lessons around money was centered around raising a pig. And you have a spouse going like, wow. My experience was completely different where I had no responsibilities whatsoever until my parents marriage fell apart and I didn’t want to be at home in a toxic environment and had to fend for myself. So now you have a spouse really understanding how difficult their journey of money is post that, versus one that had a really great understanding of earning money and hard work equal money, and figure out from there, like, they’re now going to have more conversations.

Heather Boneparth [35:30 – 36:58]: I’ll give you one more that I think is very interesting and important. How people approach and how they speak to each other about financial bad decisions or mistakes that they’ve made individually and together. I think that I don’t love when we see, and we do see this a lot, where a couple will say, well, she did. She had this credit card debt. Like, I came in and I saved her. I cleaned it up. You know what I mean? Like, there’s this notion of somebody did things, that somebody did something wrong and the other person was the savior and that there, we get some of that, too. And then also, like, people who even make financial mistakes, once they get together, you could tell just the way that they speak about those decisions. You’re still kind of like, there’s a little bit of blame casting, but also, like, there’s just not a lot of, like, collective accountability. And just the way that mistakes are couched is something that we’re exploring. We’re exploring deeper for the book. And it’s interesting because it’s less so, like, what the mistake was. That’s what’s also cool about, like, what I think is cool about what we’re doing. It’s not as interesting. It’s not so much about whatever the mistake was. It doesn’t matter to me whether you have $5,000 in credit card debt, you got rid of it or not. It’s about the way in which you approach the mistake as a couple. It’s the way in which you guys work through it. It’s the way in which you look back upon it and whether the lessons were learned and how you approach it moving forward. So that’s mistakes has been a very interesting thing, too.

Jonathan DeYoe [36:59 – 37:04]: Douglas. Heather, do you work one on one with clients as well, or are you doing backup office management stuff?

Heather Boneparth [37:04 – 37:19]: No, I do mostly. I handle mostly like Doug’s business affairs, some of our corporate partnerships. I work to monetize our platforms and I’ll do a lot of writing. I do a lot of, I definitely don’t do all of our writing for the joint account, but I do a lot of work joint account.

Jonathan DeYoe [37:19 – 37:30]: So that means this question is actually for Douglas, does the research or is the research you’re doing and the learnings you’re taking out of these conversations, is that changing how you’re interacting with couples.

Douglas Boneparth [37:30 – 39:19]: Specifically, slowly and then all at once? Right. Yeah, I think more aware than ever before of the dynamics between spouses. Now I can count on two counts the number of times in meetings where I’ve been able to pick up on cues between couples and really kind of dive into that a little bit more than before. But you also have to realize that couples who show up to do financial planning and get involved in the process are pretty excited or engaged and knowing they’re going through their financial life together, they’ve signed up for this process. But yeah, to your point, it’s exciting to see that like, hey, I know what to say here to try and maybe uncover a little bit more of what’s going on financially between two people, but I think forward looking into the future, there’s no avoiding how this now extension of the platform and services that we’ll be able to offer if we’re putting ourselves there as advisors and a firm that particularly informed and educated and trained up on the areas of relationships and money, it will undoubtedly be an area that we will be focusing more and more on in the practice. And I would imagine that well be getting business specifically related to people looking to improve their financial lives together. Obviously, ill tell you this, im going to try to get into the therapist role here, but certainly being more skilled at understanding how these dynamics work between people and building financial plans around that. I think it really comes out in the conversations that stem from financial planning, not necessarily the actual like document itself. I can’t imagine there being potential plan that’s like you guys are finding a lot about money, go seek therapy, but.

Heather Boneparth [39:19 – 39:47]: In the context of major life changes and how you’ll be able to navigate people through those. I mean, I think to your point, right, like in starting this project to now, like your average client meeting, may not be changed greatly. These are people that you know very well. You’re not trying to uncover their dynamics in a regular quarterly meeting. But as major life events happen, I think you’re going to be way more equipped to help people through difficult times in a much more involved and engaged way.

Jonathan DeYoe [39:47 – 40:14]: We’re sort of getting to the end of the hour here, and I want to actually, I want to get to this one thing. With every guest, we try to ask people to simplify it for us. So I want to just pretend for a second you’re sitting in front of a couple who’s considering tying the knot. They’re thinking about doing it. They’re not quite sure. They got to take the steps. What is one thing that you would say, hey, do this one thing, and that’ll lead to a better relationship together around money, more success? What is one thing you would say to a couple that’s thinking about getting married?

Heather Boneparth [40:14 – 40:18]: Doug, can we look at each other and see if we know what the answer is? What’s the word?

Douglas Boneparth [40:18 – 40:19]: Don’t do this.

Heather Boneparth [40:22 – 40:22]: Goals.

Douglas Boneparth [40:23 – 40:40]: Dang it. You’re going to see either goals or communication. I typically, Heather would say goals because the sooner that couple can figure out what to work on together and strive towards together to create that teamwork component, the better off they’re going to be. Did I get that part right, Heather? Nice.

Jonathan DeYoe [40:41 – 40:53]: Well, about you, too. That was awesome. So that’s the thing to do. What is one thing that maybe they’ve been told to do or the culture tells them to do that they should just not do? What’s the one thing they should put down and not worry about?

Douglas Boneparth [40:53 – 40:56]: Ooh, super question.

Heather Boneparth [40:56 – 41:57]: I think that to your point about communication, communication is more important to me than looking over your spreadsheet every week, right? I think that the numbers, of course, are important. They inform our decisions and what we can and cannot do. But the way in which we speak to people and speaking openly, finding the right time, the right forum, the right place, and doing regularly is more important than what it actually says. So, like, again, this idea of, like, well, we all have our ducks in a row because we did our cash flow and we have our budget and, like, we’re all fine. And like, that prescriptive advice, like, okay, but if you don’t know how to speak to your spouse, then what’s it even going to matter? Because eventually, like that, the communication breaks down and then you won’t be successful at filling out your little spreadsheet the way that you want to so I think, of course, the numbers are important, but the way in which you speak to people and speak to your partner with respect and try and both come to the table and find, like, an equitable partnership is more important than any of that.

Douglas Boneparth [41:57 – 43:10]: When I do a prop, when I talk to a prospect, you know, to give you an example, any prospect that ever has a consultation, I always begin learning about them. And I want to know two sides to the coin. I want to know qualitatively how they feel about money, all the gushy stuff. And I want to know the quantitative side as well. Lay it out for me. Assets, income, liabilities, all of that stuff. And you really can’t get a full picture unless you have both sides there. So Heather’s spot on. Through this process and this project, I’m learning more and more just how important the qualitative side, the feelings and emotions around money are. And I think as behavioral finance becomes more and more popular, we’re going to see that perhaps it is slightly more, if not a meaningfully more important area to be uncovering and diving into in people’s lives, then the numbers are great data points, like Heather says. But what if you find out that running a surplus does not bring as much excitement to one spouse as it does the other? Well, why is that? And if you can’t figure out why that is, then you’re not really moving forward with anything.

Jonathan DeYoe [43:10 – 43:31]: I love that. Behavioral finance, for me, it’s, I mean, it’s called mindful money. So behavioral finance is, for me, that’s finance. That is not. Numbers aren’t really finance. That behavior is finance. So, Heather, just. I’m going to come back to the personal here. Heather, what was the last thing you changed your mind about in life? In life, in what you had for breakfast? Whatever. It’s just. What’s the last thing you change your mind about?

Heather Boneparth [43:31 – 43:44]: Where we’re sending our daughter to kindergarten next year. It’s been a back and forth, and I’ve been waffling back and forth, but make it end. We’re going to make it end. Tomorrow’s the day we’re going to make it end.

Douglas Boneparth [43:44 – 43:44]: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe [43:45 – 43:52]: Making the choice. Douglas, is there anything that people don’t know about you, or maybe you’ve told them and they don’t remember about you that you really want them to know?

Douglas Boneparth [43:52 – 44:40]: Oh, man. I really do a good job of putting it all out there. Heather will tell you I live not to avoid the question. Hopefully something will pop in my mind. But I. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think that from a way you kind of know me. Like, hey, here’s this online personality who likes making jokes. I think more and more lately, people are like, there’s that guy who makes funny. I’m a dad. Like, I’m just a big nerd. Like, seriously, I’m a big dork. What you see there is what you get in real life. But like, I’m not some generated avatar that likes to make funny posts. Like, that’s really who I that’s really my picture and that’s really how I am in real life. I’m just trying to be happy and create happiness like the rest of y’all.

Jonathan DeYoe [44:40 – 44:42]: Beautiful. Tell us how people can connect with you. Where do they find you guys?

Heather Boneparth [44:43 – 44:43]: Sure.

Douglas Boneparth [44:43 – 44:55]: Doug Bonaparth on all platforms and part about finding us on any platform is there’s a nice link tree with links to everything from the website to the newsletters, everything we put out there. Heather, what’s yours?

Heather Boneparth [44:55 – 45:12]: Mine’s at average Joelle. That’s average Joelle. And you can definitely find us in our newsletter, the joint account. And if you’re a couple listening that wants to participate in our book, please reach out. You’ll be able to find that information all over our link tree as well.

Jonathan DeYoe [45:12 – 45:24]: I’m going to check with my wife, but I’m going to raise my hand, I think, just to I want to have the experience because I can learn a whole bunch about where I’m not doing the right things here. So this would be good. You guys, thanks so much for coming on. This has been actually fantastic.

Douglas Boneparth [45:24 – 45:24]: Oh, thank you.

Heather Boneparth [45:24 – 45:25]: Thanks for having me.

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