The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met 12/7/13. The agenda was “saving first, budgeting on what’s left,” but, of course, we went off on many wonderful tangents.
Unless you have a savings goal – a target – you cannot and will not save properly or have any form of peace or contentment around your finances. You’ll continue “wandering and squandering” as I call it.
Your commitment to your savings will be weak unless you know what is required of your savings. Why bother setting aside money if you don’t know why or if it’s enough? A financial plan can help you determine what you should be saving towards your goals, but I’m not writing this post to plug my services.
Let’s assume you DO know what you are saving for and how much you need to set aside (per week, month, year). You can learn to budget on whatever’s left. But there are obstacles. The two biggest obstacles to saving are SPOUSES and STATUS.
If your spouse isn’t on board, forget about it.
I wrote in my book, Living Inspired and Financially Empowered that whom you marry is one of the biggest financial decisions of your entire life. This one decision affects where you live, how you live, and who you live for.
Both spouses must agree and commit to at least one mutual goal or the money will simply not get saved; the unagreeable spouse will sabotage the whole shebang, typically with spending (and they’ll hide the bags and receipts, too). See What Purchases Spouses Hide From Each Other.
Sometimes financial rebellion in a marriage is rooted in who is making the bulk of the money. There may be power there that needs to be acknowledged (“I make all the money, so I should get to spend it however I want.”). Or, there may be resentment on the part of the lesser earning spouse who reacts by spending outside of the budget. Spending is a reflection of a person’s values.
There are many reasons why a spouse won’t be on board, and here is a great link for dealing with many of them: When Your Spouse Won’t Participate In a Financial Plan or Budget
Unfortunately, money usually puts stress and strain on a relationship, no matter how much or how little you have. Money is an energy, and unless and until you know how to wield that energy in a way that reflects your goals and values, it’ll continue to be a force in your life rather than a force for your life.
The other potential obstacle – status – has a sneaky way of creeping into our wallets. We humans are social creatures; it is important to feel accepted in our social group and sometimes we rely on money to help us do that. But Is Your Ego In Charge Of Your Wallet?
For some, discipline may wax and wane. We may feel focused one minute, weak another. The silent seed of “I deserve …” can indeed sprout and grow into something quite unmanageable.
The holidays can foster that status-spending dynamic as we want to shower our loved ones with gifts (and there is nothing wrong with that). The problem arises when we want the focus of the gift to be on what we spent – financially. And truth be told, most people would much prefer a thoughtful gift that reflects what they really want in life: to be loved and appreciated.
One of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received was when my husband (who is a great gift giver) made up what he called a “Hypo bag” (for hypo glycemic) of healthy snacks and bottled water that I could keep in my car for when my blood sugar started to drop.
- Homemade items (ornaments, cookies, granola, preserves, soup, a scrapbook, a small notebook filled with things you think are wonderful about the person)
- Experiences (a trip to the movies, an art gallery, or a beautiful cathedral, a pottery class, a concert, host a “tea”)
- and even thrift store finds (some good ideas include hard cover books, antique ornaments, candle holders), with a note as to why they reminded you of the person, spruced up with some lovely wrapping and maybe a gift certificate to a favorite coffee shop.
It’s is significantly easier to channel your financial energy towards what you want out of life once you know what it is you want out of life.
Photos courtesy of Clip Art.