by: Staci Stallings
I hope you’re still tracking with us about financial issues and the defaults and triggers they cause. We’ve looked at your default about having money and the default of making money. Today I want to start with your defaults about spending money.
This is one area where our current discussion dovetails with a prior discussion–namely that of relationships.
Spending Money. I’d be willing to bet you that just saying that phrase sets off a whole slew of defaults in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual layers. Many people fall into one of two categories here: the spender, the non-spender.
Add into this that even spenders and non-spenders often have a hierarchy of what is worth spending on and what is not, coupled with personality differences, conflict-resolution differences, and backstory differences, and you can see how and why arguments and fights ensue over this emotionally charged topic.
For today, I want you to consider YOUR defaults on spending money.
Are you by-and-large a spender or a non-spender? If you go to the grocery store, do you tend to impulse shop or do you have a list or budget and stick to it? What if something comes up that you don’t have on the list or have budgeted for? Do you figure, “Oh, well, I can pay for it next month” and just charge it? Do you go through your budget and try to find some off-setting savings?
Do you spend more when you are emotional about another area of your life? If you are stressed, do you tend to spend more? If you are alone, do you tend to buy things that you don’t necessarily need?
Do you compete-spend with your spouse… saying things like, “Well, he got that television for Father’s Day, I deserve something nice for my birthday”? Do you hide purchases from your spouse because you are afraid of his/her reaction? What are your defaults when you think about your joint financial life with your spouse? Do you feel secure in that relationship or threatened (either because they spend too much or because they will not let you spend at all)?
How about your default spending with your kids? Do you try to buy their love with extra-special things that have lost “special” because there are so many? Do you think back to your own growing up and spend “because my parents never got me nothin’!”? What are your defaults about birthday parties and friend time? Do your children have to earn any money? Is what they make their money, or do you have a say in all of it? Do your children get an allowance? Is the allowance tied to something or is it “free’?
I bet as you read through that list, your emotional defaults are going ping, ping, PING! I bet you even had some snap answers for me with some of them (answers that if you listen are laden with emotional default syrup or hot sauce!). ”OF COURSE my kids don’t get an allowance. I never got one!” ”OF COURSE my kids get an allowance. They need to learn to manage their own money!” ”OF COURSE my kids have a job! They need to learn responsibility!” ”OF COURSE my kids don’t have a job. I don’t want them to have to work like I did just to survive!”
Do you see how many emotional triggers go off and the default responses follow without you even realizing it.
Now that you DO realize it, I want you to more calmly go back through the list. Take your time and really think about your spending and how it fits with your relationship with your spouse and with your kids. (Couple lessons down the line we’ll talk about how it affects your relationships with others outside your immediate family.)
For now, what are your spending defaults, and which ones might you be interested in changing or at least re-thinking?