This question applies in terms of husbands, wives, significant others … in other words, all couples.

Red's Head

As crazy as it sounds, at least you're talking about money! When my husband was unexpectedly fired (what I refer to as "my crisis"), I was over 40 and had never learned about money. Which explains why I was scared to death of personal finance and just wanted to keep my ostrich head in the sand. Unfortunately, my husband seemed as clueless as I was about our financial situation, so I had to turn to Black for help.

As I started to learn more about our finances, I wanted to have a conversation with him to talk things through and jointly develop a plan. Although I was angry about our situation, I knew yelling at him wouldn't help (as tempting as that might have been). Plus, I realized that I tend to be very emotional (that's an understatement) and, as a Brit, he was very reserved and didn't talk about "important" things. Not a good combination.

So, what did I do? I made a wonderful dinner, and we were finally relaxing and talking, just not about money. Until I brought it up. And he got really mad. As in banging dishes and slamming cupboards. I then stormed off, and when I told Black about it, she had to point out that a big part of talking is timing.

Black's Head Black

Besides timing (and blindsiding, even if unintentional, is never a good idea), it is critical to consider HOW you communicate. Using Red's situation as an example, it was already a difficult time, and she wanted to talk about money. A subject that, in the best of times, is not easy to talk about, plus something they had never talked about before. And, she wanted a face-to-face conversation, something he might see as more of a confrontation. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Of course, I cannot resist mentioning that years ago when they were living in Shanghai and having relationship issues, they used stuffed animals to communicate. (You cannot make this stuff up.) Sometimes you need to find other methods of communicating.

In terms of your situation, I am not the expert but have learned there are many reasons why couples fight about money, and there are many ways to stop. In my personal experience, it comes down to communication. Both talking and listening – but genuinely listening, not just preparing a rebuttal argument. When it comes to money, there usually is not a "right" and "wrong" – only different attitudes. So, maybe the first step is to let your husband know that even though you both may not always see eye-to-eye, you still want to find a way to work together.

FULL QUESTION: I keep hearing about shortages in healthcare workers; how will that impact me?

Red's Head

Great question. And, if it weren't for the fact I'm the daughter that gets "into the weeds" of finding caretakers for our almost 94-year-old mom, I probably wouldn't have even thought about it. But I can say the shortage of healthcare workers in hospitals and other health facilities is having a ripple effect as I'm personally feeling the repercussions in terms of shortages for in-home caregivers.

I know Black always plans for the future by working backward, and for a long time, we tried to get our mom to have in-home caretakers. But even though she has sight and hearing issues, she's still fiercely independent and mentally "with it" and has resisted. However, we're now at a point of it not being optional, so we're struggling to find caregivers.

So, my only words of wisdom are … recognize there are shortages of healthcare workers and, when possible, plan accordingly. Plus, it's always a good time to thank healthcare workers whenever your paths cross to let them know how important they are … to all of us.

Black's Head Black

I am guessing you are not asking whether this is a good field in terms of employment opportunities (it is), as the shortage of healthcare workers is almost epidemic (pun intended).

It is important to acknowledge the shortages and plan accordingly. When it comes to health matters, that is not always possible. However, the need to take a proactive approach to being healthy is as critical as it has ever been, as is the importance of preventative medicine and early detection. So, make sure you take care of any annual or routine exams (many of us deferred them due to COVID-19). We may not be able to do anything about the healthcare shortages, but we can do a better job of minimizing health risks and being prepared to address them if they occur.

We thought this would be the perfect question to run on National Boss's Day.

Red's Head

Oh yes, definitely! Without question, that would be Black. In fact, on more than one occasion, I've been known to refer to her as The Boss (and I'm not talking about Bruce Springsteen). It's usually me kidding around and saying something along the lines of "I'll have to check with The Boss." (Even my daughters have heard me refer to their aunt that way, and they've never questioned me, so there must be some agreement, at least in my family, about who's the boss.)

To a great extent, it may be because if you were to compare our bios, I don't think my background as a mom prepared me to be a businesswoman, although Black has tried to convince me otherwise. On the other hand, Black's bio makes it painfully obvious she's "all business" so better suited to be "the boss."

Black's Head Black

It depends on how you define "boss." If you are referring to who owns more of the company, I hold 1% more than Red, which technically means I have more "authority". And, I will admit that as the older sister, I have more practice being bossy (especially as she has always tried to avoid conflict), but when it comes to business, I value teamwork. Red has a perspective and background very different than mine (that is an understatement!), but the key is acknowledging that – and learning from one another in order to make the best business decisions.

The bottom line is there would be no Red & Black … without Red or without Black. It is truly a partnership.

FULL QUESTION: It's not even Halloween, but is it too early to start shopping for the holidays?

Red's Head

Of course not! It's never too early to start, although there's a huge difference between knowing that, planning to do it, and actually doing it. I've always considered Halloween the start of what I call the "silly season," but if you go into any store, it looks like it's already begun. Regardless, I think it's a good idea to get a jumpstart (oh my, am I using a car analogy?) on holiday shopping, but also holiday survival techniques.

These days my holiday shopping list isn't nearly as long as it used to be because my girls are older and now prefer one or two carefully selected items (although figuring those out isn't always easy) vs. lots of "stuff" to unwrap. Although I still get them a few small "fun" things. But your question reminds me of the stress that comes with leaving things to the last minute and has inspired me to try to get my holiday shopping done early.

Black's Head Black

Except for business gifts, which I traditionally order from Zabar's on Cyber Monday, I tend to buy (and give) the gifts for the handful of people on my personal gift list during the year when I find the perfect item.

But, to answer the question, and try not to sound like Scrooge, it will be a challenge to find things this holiday season – not just the latest "it" gift, but even Thanksgiving Day turkey and fixings. Between the global shipping crisis and labor shortages, stores are already struggling to stock their shelves (virtual and brick-and-mortar), plus many items will be significantly more expensive. And, probably fewer "real deals" on Black Friday.

In other words, shop early or risk disappointment.