Spending. Just that word makes me cringe a little bit. Stewardship? Even worse. Growing up, the topic of money felt like a stressful subject for me. I grew up in a big family, so money was tight. We always had enough for what we needed, but I knew it was a burden for my parents to support so many of us on mostly one salary. So my initial experience with money was one of stress and scarcity.
The way this impacts me today? I often get overwhelmed with all the details associated with budgeting, paying bills, savings, etc. I don’t enjoy putting in the necessary analytical work, mostly because I don’t like the feelings that come with it. I don’t mind staying within a budget because by nature I’m not a spender and tend to have a big picture mentality. But all the nitty-gritty work leading up to knowing what my limits are, I don’t like doing at all.
As you might imagine, my husband and I have very different ways of spending money. Mostly, I prefer to not spend unless it's planned out. He would give away the farm to anyone who might need it, whether it is pre-thought out or not. Between our money spending differences, along with my pre-existing stressors about the way I think about money, it's been a difficult area for us.
Money management is an area we assume we will show up in adulthood and automatically be good at. How we spend our money is often a subject people don’t want to talk about - in a detailed manner anyway. It seems there is a level of shame attached to admitting it’s something we need help with. There is pressure to have a façade that says, “I know what I’m doing and I don’t need any help, thank you.”
Several years back, something struck me. When your car needs fixed, most people go to a mechanic to have it repaired. When you are sick, you go to a doctor to get well again. When you need help getting in shape, you get a trainer or group or coach to help you. When you want to build a new house, you usually contact a builder.
But when it comes to our money, most of us think we need to have it figured out on our own. We don’t ask for help because we “should” be able to do this. Yet we get help in the areas mentioned above without giving it much thought.
I had this realization: my main purpose for being on earth has very little to do with money or helping people with money. I have zero interest in sitting down to figure out all the detailed aspects to figuring out a budget or financial plan. It’s just not me. And to force myself to try to be good at it, is a huge waste of my time, keeping me away from the most important things in my life. When there are people out there who do this in much less time and effort, with a much better-finished product.
There is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment about this. Just like there is no reason to feel shame about taking your car to a mechanic. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of humility and wisdom. Why would I not ask for someone’s help whose entire livelihood or spare-time enjoyment is based around managing money? It’s a no-brainer really.
So several years ago, we asked for help. The adjustment period was pretty intense as we re-vamped everything. But it was one of the best decisions we’ve made, both financially and as a couple. To have someone come in and look at everything – what we make, what our needs are, our expenses, retirement and college planning, etc. -- and follow the plan laid out for us.
Yes, it is hard to swallow the ego and do what someone else suggests when we wouldn’t think to do it their way. Yes, it is hard to be accountable to someone, and stick to the plan given. Yes, it is hard at times to not just do whatever I want, whenever I want.
But it has been a trade-off I can’t put a financial value on. It has brought about so much freedom. To be able to spend money on things or experiences that align with our values. To be able to give more generously. To have peace of mind. It has brought us closer together, instead of a stressor that comes between us. It feels good to be responsible, yet not feel the weight of having to be good at something that on my own, stresses me out.
It is okay and good to depend on each other. Each of us are blessed with different areas of talent and interest. Why force ourselves to become efficient at something that is such a heavyweight? When there are other loving, safe and competent individuals out there who are happy to help us.
Questions to Consider:
What feelings or experiences do you have related to managing money?
What keeps you from asking for help in this area?
Who is someone you could consider asking for help? (Friend, mentor, financial person)
What do you resist the most about having a plan and following it?