Dishing on Money with Mrs. & Mr. Tomato

Dishing on Money with Mrs. & Mr. Tomato

Thanks to Cheryl and Stu Benton for willingly ‘baring all’ on their money beliefs, and how they found common ground as a couple. Here is their story.

If you’ve ever talked with Cheryl, her intelligence is evident. She had the guts to build an ad agency which was purchased by a larger company, and then started The Three Tomatoes.  Women listened and her newsletter to grow.

Cheryl grew up in a fun family. Sometimes the family had a little money, sometimes a lot. They were taught to live life to the fullest. Cheryl developed optimism toward life in general – a core trait of a successful entrepreneur. Money wasn’t discussed. If they needed money, the kids simply asked and voila! It appeared.  If you think about it, this is a wonderful way to live. Enjoying each day, focused on happiness instead of money. You can see the fun in her newsletter and events too.

Career Awareness Came Quickly

In junior high school Cheryl got a job in a supermarket. Unfortunately, she had to make change from cash purchases. Somehow her cash never balanced out at the end of the day. It became stressful and apparent that this wasn’t Cheryl’s thing. Her Dad let her know it was ok to quit, and quit she did.

Along Came Stu

Stu’s father was a banker, very cautious with his money. The family would discuss purchases at the dinner table and how they would fit into the family budget. Stu earned an allowance by doing household chores. By 11 he understood how to earn money – that it didn’t just appear.  Stu built a paper route of 120 papers earning $75 a week in today’s dollars. As Stu amassed his childhood fortune, he was encouraged to save some and have a budget to track where it was going.  He developed money behaviors like checking to see “how much do I have left” to spend.

Early Money Sparks

Cheryl and Stu were together 7 years before marrying.  They were both successful money earners, so despite their different money beliefs, they each had independence and more than enough to enjoy life.  Occasionally sparks would fly – like when Stu had to bail out the little sports car Cheryl loved because it lived in the repair shop more than on the road.  Stu would balance the check book for them. Cheryl chuckles that her check book was like her cashier’s job -when it wouldn’t balance, she’d leave the account and open a new one until things sorted themselves out.

Almost the Perfect Couple

They refer to themselves as Gatherer/Hunter. Cheryl is the gatherer who likes to explore in a store – experience the environment, touch the fabrics. It relaxes her and entertains her.  She finds new food items, which definitely makes a more interesting dinner table. Stu is the hunter. He is all about maximizing time efficiently.  Stu favors buying on the internet, and only walks down the grocery store aisles needed to complete his list. His only treat – the way he likes to express himself through purchases – is a new tie from Brooks Brothers.

Crash of the Titanic

In 2008 when the entire world was suffering, Stu and Cheryl were no different. Their assets weren’t going to yield what was needed. Suddenly there truly wouldn’t be “enough”. This affected Cheryl and she realized she needed to be a partner with Stu in managing the money.  Cheryl stopped her “therapy shopping” after work.  After a year of no shopping, she realized she hadn’t cared a lot about what she was buying and felt “light years” better.

Their Money-Life Balance

Cheryl and Stu now have a solid money partnership. Stu likes to deal with money, so he manages the accounts in detail and Cheryl follows what’s going on. They can see each other’s accounts. Some are co-mingled for family goals, and some are separate for personal independence.  Cheryl is Chief Happiness Officer in the household – keeping happiness and joy in life on a pedestal while using money to attain that happiness. And Stu is Chief Financial Officer – focusing to ensure the happiness spending is in line with what they can afford.

Money-Life Balance is all about aligning the Head, Heart & Hands.  Stu is the Head. Cheryl is the Heart. And together they manage what flows through their Hands.

Need to Talk About $ as a Couple?

  • Start with an environment of respect. Agree to share with, and listen to your partner. Use words such as “I feel like this when you….” Instead of “You drive me crazy when you…”.
  • Don’t have conversations in the heat of the moment, when a money issue has just occurred or been discovered.
  • Don’t wait for a crisis to talk and define money roles.
  • Share your money stories with each other. How did your parents/mentors talk about money? How did they behave with money? Did they teach you about money? How are the two of you different?
  • Share what money means to you. Do you like managing money? What are your saving and spending expectations in a month, a year? What do you hope and dream for – travel? A big home?

Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.


Carrie Rattle is CEO & Founder of Behavioral Cents and a Master Money Coach for women. She leverages her 30-year career in financial services to help women change their money behaviors for the better.  Women achieve independence, freedom, and a bigger voice in the world. No Deprivation Required! Thoughts always welcome: carrierattle@behavioralcents.com.

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