Living on Love… Oh, and Money.
One of the things that drew me closer to my now-husband was that he understood my reference to government cheese. We met at a fancy liberal arts college (we were both on scholarship) and when I brought up the disgusting qualities of government cheese, most of our peers tilted their heads and stared blankly at me. But my sweet someday-husband immediately chimed in,
“Ugh – the way it would melt into islands of solids in a sea of oil.”
“Yeah and it would crumble when you cut it.”
“Yeah and it came in those huge boxes.”
I had met a kindred spirit. We spent the next twenty years completely in love and utterly avoiding any discussion of money. We were just happy that we didn’t need to depend on government cheese to keep us fed. (In fact, I feel lucky that I don’t even know: Is there still a government cheese program?) We both grew up in households where there often wasn’t quite enough, despite parents who worked hard and who constantly worried about household finances. In fact I was so happy to NOT worry about it, that I ceded all things money to my husband and went along my merry way.
Just under the surface, however, I was feeling a little panicked…having a kid WAS more expensive than we expected. And we *might* have relied just a little too much on credit in those early years. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I always decided to worry about it another day. And…quite unfairly… I figured my husband would let me know if there was a problem.
I’ve learned since then, that it’s not unusual for women to fear dealing with money. In my case the fear was connected to hearing my parents panic about where the rent check was going to come from and to watching my mother fret over pennies when she balanced her checkbook. I didn’t want my life to be like hers. All that fretting makes things…ugly.
It was an ugly I wanted to avoid. Until I couldn’t any more. I was being unbelievably unfair to my husband by unloading all the money worries onto him. Soooo…we worked with Meg (She was our guest on BrazenBFF Podcast Episode 5) to help us take a look at our financial big picture. The thought of opening the accounts and looking closely made both of us want to panic or throw up or something. But with Meg’s help we did it.
And, you know what? I didn’t die. I got a clear picture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. AND I got to choose to take the emotion out of it. Just because my mother became a raving madwoman every time she dealt with the checkbook, didn’t mean I had to. So the good outweighed the bad. The bad didn’t have to become ugly. Brian and I made a plan and we’re working the plan.
Most importantly, however, I’ve learned some tricks for taking the emotion out of money. I’m working to see it as something that needs to flow in and out of accounts just as I let breath flow in and out of my body. I am working towards understanding money as a tool and not a (bad) emotion.
It’s time for Brian and I to take stock and modify our plan for the year. Fingers crossed that I will do better dealing this year than last and that in ten years I won’t have any fear at all.
Why are you afraid of dealing with money? How do you overcome fear that sabotages you financially?
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