Sunday, November 23, 2008

Financial Accountability

The idea makes my stomach turn and my spirit rebel. I know that I am not alone here but I HATE budgets. I hate talking about money.
I heard a podcast from NPR on why other people recoil at the idea... it basically came down to the fact that they are afraid of math. They don't understand it so they think they can't do it so they just don't try.
That pretty much summed me up in a nutshell. I think on top of things, I am married to a money genius. Everette is incredibly bright on a lot of different levels, but he is particularly brilliant when it comes to money. Making, spending, and saving. He likes to talk about it, he likes to read about it, and he likes to think about it.
It would be one thing if I was in a marriage with someone equally or at least more equally ignorant about money. Then we could keep things simple and struggle our way through things together. We would both make big mistakes and we would both learn. Instead, our partnership is incredibly lopsided in this area. This makes me all the more aware of my ignorance and all the more fearful of being exposed. No one likes to look like an idiot in front of their spouse.
My strategy was to take the ostrich approach. Bury my head and pretend that no one could see me. Everette and I would talk about it and even make a budget for a while, but it would get hairy, I would get scared and overwhelmed and then we would have a fight and I would bury my head again.
Everette has two big things. First he is worried if something happens to him, I won't know what to do or how anything works and drown just trying to maintain the status quo (sp?). These fears are not unfounded as far as our investments and house goes. I have never dealt with these.
His other deal is, he believes that money is a tool. A tool to help you do other things... some very noble--to serve God, to love others, and others not so--clothes, gadgets and other commercial items. This view of money leads to a more cautious, but purposeful approach to how you spend your money.
I am a fritterer. Large purchases scare me, I tend to spend money on small frivolous things. I was focused just on "staying out of debt". But that was it. No goals or plan on what to do with the money, nothing to work toward.
About a month ago we had a "Come to Jesus Meeting" It was actually good. Everette made me look over our past expenses and see where our money was going. Then we sat down and had a calm, fruitful, productive, non-yelling discussion about it. We looked at where we could cut back. We made a plan. We assigned responsibilities. I told Everette some of my fears, and things that I felt were too hard for me to take responsibility for right now.
And here is what I discovered. As it turns out, I kind of like the accountability. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I come in under budget. I like finding ways to save money. I feel in control and aware of our financial situation. I like having a goal to work toward. I was much more prepared to have dinner at home everynight. And I actually chose to eat at home other times we could have eaten out because I knew we could save the money for something else.
I should put a disclaimer-- it has only been a month (not even) and I am only responsible for the tiniest part of our finances, but my hope is that I can start small and build. Who would have thought.


Annie said...

Good for you. We're looking forward to a budget in our new house. Having the structure can actually bring more freedom, or that's what I'm hoping!

Pat said...

Hi Girl,
Hows the challenge going??