The Problem You’re Not Talking About
One of the issues when you’re known for being the “money guy” is that your friends will inevitably fall into one of two groups. The first will mum up entirely, and trying to talk to them about it will increase tension in the room. The other group will not shut up about it. They’ll tell you about their income, what they’ve been buying, how they financed it, what they’re planning to invest in and do you think all of that is a good idea? In either case, I try to listen to what they’re saying (even when they’re not talking).
One family friend of ours has been struggling financially for a while. He and his spouse have ever growing debt, and occasional income problems. They’re not able to meet any of their financial goals. And while all of that is terrible, there’s a bigger problem that they’re not talking about.
The good thing is that he’s not in denial anymore. He recognizes that he has to start changing things to get out of the mess that they’re in. He’s been writing a budget for his family. They’ve sold some stuff. I can see the start of a plan forming in his mind. He could use some guidance and there are a bunch of hard decisions ahead, but there’s hope, right?
Yes and no.
When he shows his budget to his wife, she always agrees to it. I’ve never been in the room when it happens, but my gut is telling me that her agreement sounds something like, “That’s great, honey. Whatever you say.” And that’s not really an agreement. It’s more of an acquiescence. And she tries to go along with his budget, but then a need or an “emergency” comes up and she has to go buy something to cover it, or commit financially to something that’s outside of what’s on paper, and all of his work is blown.
The cycle continues to repeat, and their problems continue to slowly grow.
Now, understand, what I described makes her look really bad, but that’s not the case. She’s just trying to do the best she can to serve her family, the same as he is. She’s plugging holes and meeting needs, just like he’s trying to do. Don’t judge her harshly, because this isn’t all her fault.
This problem belongs to both of them. It’s that core problem I mentioned earlier. They’re not in unison.
His plan is his plan. The budget he creates is trying to solve the problem he’s seeing. Which is great, but his wife isn’t really bought in, despite what she says, because that budget doesn’t address any of the problems she’s seeing. It’s not her budget, and it’s not her plan – it’s her husband’s. And when one of the needs she sees comes up, his plan drops to the wayside, and she meets the need.
They need unity.
His plan needs to change and become their plan. His budget needs to become their budget. When that happens they’ll be in actual agreement, it will build trust, and they’ll come to find they can depend on each other. It’s amazing how much less of a struggle life is when you’re working together.
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