“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”
You know that feeling. The one where you dread what’s coming at you? Maybe it’s a dental appointment (and, as a former dental assistant who tried her darndest to make patients comfortable, I’m giving you a pass on feeling that way), maybe it’s a visit to the judgy in-laws, or a presentation in front of arms-crossed, prove-your-point-to-me, people. We all have our little angst spoons that stir up big emotions.
One of my “noooooooooo, I don’t wanna” moments each month is when my husband waves my Visa bill at me. My job is to categorize each expenditure so he can keep track of where we are spending money. And by “we” he means “me.”
One upside of this is that, at year’s end, we can quickly see where our financial successes and less-than-successes have been.
Another upside is that my husband loves numbers. Back when we had season tickets to the University of Minnesota Men’s Gopher Basketball, he would bring a paper score sheet and keep track of the player’s fouls and various baskets made…free throws, two pointers, three-pointers, and so on. I’d look at him and say helpful things such as, “Oh look, Lover. There’s a huge digital scoreboard that shows all the things you are writing down.” He’d ignore me unless I persisted, in which case he’d pause and take a loooooong slurp from my over-priced, mostly ice, stadium Diet Coke. The man knows how to hurt me.
So anyway, because he and numbers have a thing going on, he willingly balances our checkbook and pays the bills. My sweet man has systems. Neat and tidy systems.
He’s a Virgo. Analytical and detail oriented.
I am an Aries. An impulsive, playful, live in the moment sort of woman. Bill paying and record keeping are soul-crushing tasks unless I can doodle on the margins.
My husband and I work as a couple because we entice and balance each other. At least most of the time. Cue the money discussion!
When it comes to my Visa bill accounting, I feel ginormous reluctance. I do the “dead man walking” thing all the way to his office.
Why? Because I feel I am being asked to defend my spending, even on necessary items like groceries or household goods.
Back in the day when I was a single mom, I lived paycheck to paycheck. Not fun, or secure, and yet I paid my bills on time and answered to no one. I felt responsible within the limits of what I earned as the aforementioned dental assistant, and always, always, believed things would improve.
When I married this wonderful man, I understood I would be losing autonomy, maybe even some of my identity, and it scared me. How would we mesh our financial styles? Would we? Could we? Still, in the end, love easily won out, and we knew everything else would resolve.
To be clear, it’s not that my husband stands over me making tsk-tsking sounds as I put notes next to each Visa entry. (Well. Okay. He does object to my category called “booze.” However “grocery” doesn’t quite sound right, nor does “liquid happiness.”)
Over the years he’s learned to bite his tongue but hasn’t quite managed to avoid the frowny face that translates to “you spent that for that?”
A general scenario:
Him, trying to read my scribble on the Visa bill, “What’s this charge?
Me: “You needed new socks. That’s what they cost nowadays.”
Him: “Whaaat? I remember when they were ten pairs for five bucks.”
Me: “Mmm-hmm. I remember when I used to use a typewriter and White Out.”
My reason for bringing money stuff up is because I am reading a book titled, Worthy: Boost Your Self-Worth To Grow Your Net Worth, by Nancy Levin. Nancy puts a lot of questions in each chapter, and some resonate sharply.
When I came to the section on who controls the purse strings, I felt that icky recognition tingle. Two questions, in particular, had me thinking hard:
–Do you feel guilty if you spend money on yourself? If so, why?
–Does the voice of a parent or other authority figure rise up when you’re making a purchase, paying bills, or looking at your finances?
Yes, and yes.
My answers do not make my husband the bad guy. They do mean I have some work to do on money blocks, real or believed. I need to be honest about the root of my defensiveness/unworthiness, and that will take some deep dive gut work. Which means I may need to spend a little more in the “booze” category. 🙂
How about you? How do you deal with your self-worth and money? How does spending money on yourself feel, and how does your spouse/partner react?