A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

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.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Work and Money | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Problem You’re Not Talking About

Quick Hits of the Week

  • So, around the first of this month, Congress passed a law forbidding welfare money from being used at liquor stores, casinos, and strip clubs. Let’s ignore, for a second, the fact that this legislation is nearly impossible to enforce. What I want to know is, if people are spending their welfare money on those things, how are they able to pay for groceries and keep their lights and heat on? Yes, I’m being a bit facetious. I know that there is waste in the system, and people can and do receive far more than they need for their basic necessities. At the same time I know single moms who are struggling to make ends meet without being able to receive any welfare, because they have the audacity to stay employed. You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish. What does this current system encourage more of?
  • I just recently came across BA Expat, a blog by a young entrepreneur named Zack. I look forward to reading more from him. The post that got my attention was his 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Life Today.  While I already do a few of these things, but I’m challenged to add a couple of the others in the next month. For example, I know it’s past time to de-clutter my closet (not to mention a few other areas of my life).
  • As the father of three future teenagers, I’m always looking for good advice to put in my back pocket to teach them about dating when they’re ready. Perry Noble from Newspring recently delivered a pair of punch-lists of unacceptable behavior, one for the men and another for the women, when dating. Dating relationships lead to marriages. Leading my kids to have high standards for the people they date (and to live to high standards themselves) means that my wife and I can be relaxed and suppotive when each wedding day comes.
  • Speaking of weddings, brides are usually smiling on their wedding day. I don’t know about these wedding photos, though. Her smile is kind of painted on. And what guy needs help getting dressed? A tuxedo isn’t that complicated. Anyway, after the ceremony, their honeymoon consisted of a cross country tour in a stylish custom RV, and when they got back they moved into the house of her dreams.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Two Ways To Have a Stronger Marriage

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My wife and I are going out on a date this evening. We’re going somewhere very nice that we both enjoy. We’ll spend at least couple of hours there enjoying the food and each other’s company.

Taking the person you love out on dates isn’t something that should stop once the wedding is over. I know as a man, I see it as a constant challenge to make my marriage as strong and as problem free as possible. Having time to talk to your spouse about the issues you’re going through, without the distractions of kids or home, can be key to that vision. So, we’ve made it a priority to have a semi-regular date night.

I’ve discovered something else that helps strengthen your marriage, as much if not more than a date night, is having a regular monthly home budget meeting. When just you and your spouse sit down together and nail down where all the money for that month is going to go and what your upcoming expenses are going to be, it’s a great opportunity for the two of you to draw closer together. It builds parts of your marriage that a regular date night doesn’t exercise.

The date night is all about communication. It allows you not only to vent about areas of trouble in your life to your spouse, but also to share your dreams and hopes for the future with each other. Spending that time helps you to get to know one another more deeply. It helps you know how to meet one another’s needs as your marriage continues to mature and you each work through the changes in your lives.

While the budget meeting requires communication, it’s really all about implementation. After the two of you have agreed upon the household necessities, you have the opportunity to act upon those needs that you’ve identified during those dates you’ve taken. You can budget for the vacation that your spouse has longed to take. (Remember, though all you can set aside right now for that dream is $40 per month, that’s still almost $500 a year.)

More importantly, the home budget meeting is a written contract between the two of you. It’s an agreement on where all of your money is going for the coming month. If the budget is followed by both it builds trust in each other. Each comes to know how well they can depend on the other.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Also, when you both fulfill the budget contract, it sets you both on the same path, working towards a common goal. When both of you are moving together with the same vision, you have a much better chance at achieving your long term dreams. Even if you never reach the biggest dreams, you’ll have been walking together, hand in hand, all of that time. There is no better way to build strong marital bonds that I can think of.

For more advice on how to set up a regular date night, I recommend checking out this blog post by Josh Reich. Building strong marriages and families is a big part of Josh’s leadership at Revolution Church in Tucson.

I wrote previously about working together on a home budget when I posted my five tips for writing a good home budget, and also when I explained about how I mistakenly left the home budget to my wife after we first got married.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Two Ways To Have a Stronger Marriage