We’ve all probably heard about the importance of setting healthy boundaries.
Most financial issues aren’t the root problem, they’re the leaves at the end of a branch, at the end of a limb, attached to a trunk that shoots down below the surface of the ground.
Simply put: Financial problems are a symptom, not the cause.
So, what do boundaries have to do with this?
If you don’t have a healthy boundary between you and the advertising and marketing media, you’re susceptible to manipulation. The average family of four is hit with over 1,500 marketing impressions every day. Without a boundary that says, “We can say ‘no’ and stay content with what we have,” you just might find yourself buying new bunk beds, skinny jeans, Uggs, and a Disney vacation daily.
Okay, so that’s extreme, but think of how you currently regulate your purchases.
What if you have trouble saying no to your children? I recently spoke to a couple that has an adult son living out of state. He regularly calls and asks for financial support.
One of my favorite parts of my position as the Stewardship Ministry Director at Hope Community Church is teaching the money lesson during the pre-marriage class. There’s something about the serene look in the eyes of those considering marriage that says, “We have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into, and we aren’t wise enough to know it yet!”
It’s a blast. They’re like deer mesmerized by the headlights of a rapidly approaching car and they don’t even remember how they got out onto the road.
I spend about 45 minutes walking them through a few dos and don’ts of prepping financially for a healthy marriage relationship – what amounts to a quick overview of everything in Get Naked – and then I open the floor for some Q&A.
Invariably someone asks the question about whether finances should be kept separate or combined after I do.
It’s a good question. It plucks the can-I-trust-you?-are-you-everything-you-said-you-were?-you-aren’t-into-the-home-shopping-network-are-you? heart string.
If you’re a spender, you’ll appreciate this: Savers can be full of crap. They can come off as holier than thou in their effort to pinch every penny, cherish every dime, and make you feel guilty for putting a quarter in a gumball machine. Why is he/she so stingy? you might wonder.
And why can’t a guy/girl enjoy a simple gumball?
Well, it might be that your saver is really a hoarder in disguise.
How do I know this? Because I used to be one.
You’ll have to bear with me and a few things I’m about to say. They will come across humorous, but the truth is that I’ve had to deal with some challenging psychological tendencies in my youth (a few still to this day) that are common among the hoarders you’ve seen on TV. Only I didn’t really hoard stuff so much; I hoarded money. Continue reading
Let’s play pretend. Let’s pretend that you and I want to be great chefs. We love to eat wonderful foods that taste great and wow our family and friends, so we want to absorb as much information and instruction as possible to leap from decent kitchen cook to great culinary artist.
We start by reading a bunch of books: Recipe books, books on technique, books by famous chef predecessors that we want to emulate. We read 25 books on how to make exquisite, succulent meals with passion and gusto.
But we don’t stop there, most certainly not. We even decide to spend hours watching Food Network, furiously scribbling notes on food combinations, presentation, and how to pair wines with main courses.
We take it a step further by enrolling in a local cooking program taught by well-known chefs. We’re getting hands-on instruction with an expert to guide us!
Now, imagine that we go home and nuke up a couple microwave dinners.
I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age story. Something about the transformation-enlightenment-awareness process really excites me.
And, even though I usually feel completely unable to relate to them (something about skinny jeans and Uggs just doesn’t register among the synapses in my brain), I really get excited for teenagers. The doors of life are about to blow wide open before them.
Think about it: For many high school seniors, the next ten years will usher forth marriage, children, home ownership, career change, and, yes, even the paying of taxes.*
I taught personal finance fundamentals to a group of 30 high-schoolers last summer for my friends at SAS Institute.** After painting a picture of their potential futures one girl said, “I’m so stressed out right now!”
Don’t worry, I put her at ease. But then I got to thinking, What if she really should be stressed out? What if all these kids are living in a sheltered dreamland that is doing them a huge disservice in preparation for adulthood?
Here’s what I know from working with many different families over the last few years: