Today I have an awesome post from Lindsey. Enjoy!
My name is Lindsey and I started my own personal finance blog a few months ago at http://centsandsensibility.ca. I have to say it’s been a great adventure so far and I’m learning a lot as I go along my journey to become debt free! I like reading, writing, traveling and technology. I live in Alberta with my husband, teenaged daughter, and hate-filled wiener dog. Come over and visit my blog to find out more!
We’ve had plenty of conversations about money, we pour over Quicken budgets and discuss who is going to pay for what, all the nuts and bolts. However, I’m not sure we know what we’re building together with our nuts and bolts. Outside of our decisions about who pays what, I’m not really clear on what my husband’s financial priorities are. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m completely clear what my own financial priorities are.
I know I have a goal of being “debt-free” and of increasing my earning potential – but to what end? Where do I see us in a year? Five years? Ten years? Twenty? It’s going to be pretty hard to achieve our goals if we have no idea what “our goals” are. I know I’ve had some concerns about our financial situation and approached my husband with ideas to increase our cash flow or to cut down expenses so we could put more towards our debt but I’ve been met with some resistance for various reasons.I’ve grown frustrated with his responses but I’m not sure I’ve been very fair to him. Without a clear idea of what we want to accomplish together, he is only going to have his own ideas about what’s important to him. I know I have valid reason for suggesting ideas about increasing cash flow and cutting expenses and he has valid reasons for declining those same suggestions. We just don’t know each other’s reasons.So we need to sit down and have a conversation. But first, I need to sit down and work through what my perceptions and priorities are regarding money. I know I am bringing my own money ‘baggage’ into the relationship and I’m still developing my own “financial identity”.
What do I need to feel good about my financial future? What are my goals? Priorities? Dreams?I’ve been reading up on money and communication in the “Smart Cookies Guide to Couples and Money” and I’m going to ask my husband if he would like to work through this book with me. They have suggested some questions to ponder to “get the conversation started”. Here are the questions and my answer to them as my first step towards Project Money: Beautiful Togetherness. 😉
Smart Cookie Discussion Questions:
Have I talked about money with friends and family before? Why or why not?
This is most definitely a yes! I have spoken at length with a few close friends and family about my money situation – I have been comfortable sharing my failures and successes; asking for advice when required; and just generally being able to go back and forth about money.
I started talking money with my best friend quite early on, money and debt were a problem for me pretty early in life and I learned quickly that keeping it a secret made things worse. Talking through my debt issues with someone else just seemed to make it a little more manageable. I was also able to benefit from other people’s opinions and ideas, as well!
What kind of money issues have you encountered in your past relationships? How did you address them?
I was married once before and money was actually one of the key reasons why we didn’t make it. So honestly, I handled money issues badly in my past relationship. I was keenly aware that he made significantly more a year than I did and I really struggled with being able to speak up. I didn’t believe at the time I had a “right” to challenge his decisions about spending and saving.
I started getting angry about his choices anyway – angry with him and angry with myself for not saying something. Before I knew it, I had lived through him getting laid off from one job; quitting another job without consulting me two days after we were married; following him across the country once for yet another job he ended up hating; and then following him across the country again for a job with the original company he was laid off from.
By the time we got back to Ontario, I ended up having to exercise my “right” to speak by leaving him. Things were way too far gone for anything else to happen. Too bad I waited so long to say something honestly, eh?
What do you think are your biggest strengths and weaknesses when it comes to managing your money?
One of my strengths is that I’m an “ideas” person: If I need extra income or I need to cut costs somewhere, I’m resourceful enough to come up with a flexible and responsive strategy to address the shortfall and come out smelling like roses.
One of my weaknesses is that I’m an “ideas” person: Because I have a highly developed skill set to respond to financial crises, I rely too much on this ability to get me through the rough patches. I don’t often need to plan ahead because I am The Boss at putting out fires. Not cool if you’re looking at the big picture or the long term
Looking back, what would you have done differently with your money?
One of the biggest changes I would make would be wait a little longer before going back to school. I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do so I ended up starting two different programs before settling on Psychology. Honestly, I probably blew through twenty grand “finding myself” enough to know what I wanted to do. Also not cool.
I also would have paid more attention to those first credit cards I got as a student. I had no concept of “credit” in my early twenties and it really showed in the way I treated the cards as free money – instead of the borrowed credit it actually was.
What are some of the benefits you see of managing your finances as a couple?
I believe this gives us a chance to build our future together. I didn’t have that chance in my first marriage and it’s really important to me to give us both an equal chance to work towards our goals. It’s important to discover what we want as individuals and honour those things by putting together a plan to make sure it happens. If we don’t see eye to eye on something, then let’s find a way to understand and compromise where and when we can. Managing our finances as a couple give us that chance that people in a relationship who manage their finances as individuals might not have.
So I know a little bit more about why I want to do this even though it doesn’t make it any less intimidating. Taking a chance is my only option though. In my first marriage, I didn’t take the chance and it cost me much more than a few dollars.
Here I go!
Thank you to the gracious Michelle for allowing me to guest post on her amazing blog, please keep an eye out for future posts about my conversation on Project Money: Beautiful togetherness. 😉