A wedding anniversary is a good way of measuring how much we’ve grown…as a couple or as individuals. One area we’ve been particularly focused on improving together is how we manage our finances and resolve our beliefs about money.
While I don’t think of myself as being ignorant about money, it seems to have taken me a long time to handle my financial affairs with the same concern and respect I’ve had when working for others, such as conserving an employer’s resources or maintaining records. I am ever so diligent in those matters. However, I’ve struggled to find a money system that works for me for more than a couple of pay periods. And now that I have, “that voice” is starting to whisper again. But let me back up a bit.
I recognize that my early money management training consisted of little more than properly filling out tax withholding forms when I started a new job, opening a checking account, or trying not to spend more than I made between paychecks. When I first started working (at 14), I may have been advised to “save something” along the way, but the message did not take hold for a few decades … and then some major life experience always seemed to wipe out everything I had accumulated to that point.
Without going into the boring details of life, it’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve really gotten honest with myself about the way I deal with, handle or think about money and debts. The first real eye-opener came after reading “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” I had collected and read numerous books from other financial gurus, designed to change my perception and financial standing, but nothing was as impactful as the questions and exercises posed in that book. Together with my husband, we began to explore our deep-rooted beliefs about money.
I was forced to notice the negative patterns I was repeating and imitating, creating a cycle of financial failure over and over again, whether in relationship or all by myself. Going through the exercises and questions together, forced us to get honest with each other. There was no one to blame; we were responsible for our situation. I was tired of failing at this. I was done with the arguments about money every time the bills had to be paid. There had to be a better way – some way to be successful in how we managed our money. And there was!
Through forgiveness of self for past mistakes, a pledge of rigorous honesty about finances, and a willingness to face my fears while making a serious effort to turn things around, I started educating myself with renewed fervor. I reviewed books about different debt-reduction systems. I shared the information with my husband. We visited financial planners, CPAs and prosperity classes. I’ve been introduced to new mentors. I also created spreadsheets that were more realistic than any previous plans…until we found a formula that worked for where we are, but could evolve with us. We opened our hearts and minds – no more secret stashes or resentment spending. It was time to trust the numbers, each other, and God.
Our consciousness about money has matured – finally! We’re making better decisions about our long-term financial future. After just a few months, we’re seeing significant progress. It feels like we’re getting ahead of the debt without feeling a constant struggle. We’re creatively reducing costs. The money arguments have ended; the fear is gone. I’ve been consistent with my record-keeping efforts, too. And then, today, that old voice came back.
As I was balancing checkbooks, paying bills, and distributing funds amongst accounts, that ever-present voice started whispering. It was bored with saving money…of paying extra funds toward mortgages or credit cards…of cooking meals at home when we could go out. Progress wasn’t happening fast enough, it said. This process was easy, but boring. It wanted the familiar chaos, complication, uncertainty and over-spending of the past.
Frankly, I had forgotten about this scared and doubting part of me. That voice had become so silent during recent success, that it startled me, at first. Once I recognized it as an old way of thinking that no longer worked in this new paradigm of conscious money management, I thanked it for being a clear reminder of how far I’d come in such a short time. I also know I have a long way to go.
I see the potential for significant advancement in my financial understanding and undertakings. It’s not too late to learn…and I know how to learn! The blended system we’re using is working wonderfully; it’s become a routine. There’s no reason to change it. I’m sure part of my past money-handling mistakes was because I didn’t stay with a system long enough to be successful. No more. As long as I can see increased savings and reduced debt on a monthly basis, I’ll continue on this path with great vigor and dedication. More than ever before, I respect and value the money we earn and where it goes.
Someday, I might be a voice of wisdom for my children and grandchildren. But first, I must earn the right to speak.