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General Triggers: Financial, Spending and Savings

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by:  Staci Stallings

Continuing on our discussion about how financial matters can trigger default settings in you, we turn our attention to the flip-side of spending–saving.

Now probably you understand how these two topics have an inverse relationship.  If you spend money, that is money that you don’t have to save.  And conversely if you save money, that is money you do not have to spend.

Many times in relationships, these two “modes of money” come into conflict.  In fact, I would guess that most “money fights” are over one of these two topics.

Think about your own relationship with money itself. (For a moment, leave out the other person who is dealing with money issues with you.)

When you think about spending money, how does that make you FEEL?  What types of things does it trigger in you?  When you think about saving money, how does THAT make you feel?  What types of default settings does it trigger in you?

For me, shopping is not fun.  It never has been.  Probably never will be.

I’m not at all sure if that is due to nature (I was born that way) or if it was how I was raised and my experiences with shopping early on.

You see, my family owned a dairy when I was growing up.  We also lived 45 minutes from the very nearest shopping experience and really an hour away from the biggest shopping experience we had readily available to us.

A typical shopping trip went something like this:

Get up.  Go feed and milk the cows (hurrying so you could get gone early!).

Around 9 a.m. if we were lucky, we would leave and drive an hour.  So we were in the town to “shop” around 10 a.m.  Usually Mom had at least one appointment with a doctor or eye doctor.  We would get out of there around 11:30 and grab something to eat.  Then the “shopping” would start.IYB 1-14-2014

We would try to get any durables shopping done–things like school supplies, clothing, or housing things.  If we were lucky, we might hit two or three different stores for different things in the next hour or so.  Then we went grocery shopping and bought groceries for a month.

Then it was an hour drive home, and we needed to be back by five so we could help with the milking until eight, nine, or ten–whenever we got finished.

So clearly, shopping for me at least early on, was literally an all-day-I’m-completely-exhausted kind of affair during which there was no time to really “shop.”  It was more get in, get what you need, get out so you can get to the next store.

I know many people today who get a sense of self-worth from shopping.  That has never been an issue for me.

However, if it is for you, please think back to how those default settings were originally set up in you.  Was shopping a way to get away from something you didn’t like?  Was it time with friends?  Was it a happy experience or a miserable one?  Why?

Another issue with spending and saving can be a need to have the latest and greatest.

In my life I grew up with someone like this.  Ironically, my dad, who never went shopping, loved getting new stuff.  Electronics and food appliances were his thing.  Much like Cosby on the episode when they show the “Appliance Graveyard,” my dad loved to get new things.

With the rise of Internet shopping, I have to say, this can be a temptation for me.  Books are a special category for me that I can over-spend quite easily.

In fact, one of the funniest experiences my husband and I had early on in our marriage… we went out for a date weekend, and with nothing to do on Saturday, we decided (against BOTH of our normal selves) to go to the mall.  We went to Sears, and he stopped to look at the tools.

Now when I say “stopped,” I mean for like an hour!

We went up and down the aisles.  He had to touch each tool, pick them up, read the labels, think about how he might use each one.  While I stood (patiently) and waited.  If I recall correctly, he did end up actually purchasing a small ratchet or wrench or something.  (On the “saver – spender” scale, my husband falls in the extreme saver area.)

So we then went out into the mall and walked around, looking and walking.  We came upon the bookstore, and I said, “Oh, let’s go in.  There’s a book I’ve been wanting to get.  Let’s see if they have it.”  To which he replied with no hint of irony, “WHY would you want to BUY a book?  You can get them at the library!”

You see, at Sears his default setting was “I can spend money if I find the right tool.”  When we got to the bookstore, his default was, “Who would spend money on books?” (Thankfully for me now, a lot of people will spend money on good books! :)

When you look at savings and spending, you may have to look a bit deeper than just “Am I a saver, or am I a spender?”

WHAT are you willing to spend on?  What are you willing to spend MORE on?  Why?

How does saving fit into your default settings, or does it?

Do these types of decisions ever set off arguments about saving and spending?  With your spouse, do you value saving or spending more?  If you spend on X, can you then let your spouse spend on Y without being angry that they spent money (you want to save when he wants to spend and vice versa)?

And when you think about saving, does saving trigger happiness or is your default to spend every dime you have (and some you don’t!) in order for you to be able to feel happy or to avoid default triggers you don’t like?

Think about it, and see what defaults you find.  What triggers those defaults?  Do any of them need to be changed or rethought?

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