Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees and Other True Tales That Will Bum You Out

Happy day after US Tax Day! Let’s talk about money. Nothing puts stress on a relationship like money can–maybe sex, but that’s a topic for another day. Money is a necessary part of life. You can’t buy anything without at least a little money. These days you can’t even watch TV without money–if your set is broken and you live in a town that only gets two TV stations anyway. And by broken I mean, having reception so poor, you have to tilt your head and squint and then maybe you can make out Al Roker’s brighter-than-the-sun grin. Or, maybe that is the sun? If your TV doesn’t work, you are left to pay for a service like Netflix, or our current favorite, HuluPlus, if you want to watch regular TV. (Update: I’m currently watching a LIVE Grey’s Anatomy on our broken TV. Reception is great and I’m trying not to breathe too hard for fear of losing the signal 😀 )

Money can also cause people to act in strange ways depending on their history with it. When I was a kid, my family didn’t have much, but we were able to get by. The youngest of 3, I remember going out to eat after church on Sundays sometimes, but I don’t remember what usually happened once we got there. Only after hearing from my sister later on did I realize everyone had a set amount they could spend, and to make sure they ordered something that was within their budget. This seems like a perfectly healthy way to teach your children about the value of money and the importance of budgeting. But sometimes these strategies can create unhealthy habits with money that, on the outside looking in, seem healthy and responsible. Although I was too young to remember our family’s budgeting strategy, I have distinct memories of going with my mom to shop for school clothes every year. Of course, being the youngest, I benefitted from hand-me-downs, but if I needed something that couldn’t be attained through hand-me-downs or hand sewing, to the store we went. While these shopping excursions were fun, there was one element that filled me with dread when I became old enough to understand; paying for our purchases. It would get to the point that I couldn’t be at the checkout counter. Of course this was before I was able to pay for things with my own money. The funny thing is, none of these purchases were frivolous, but things I needed. I’ve seen this way of thinking, being afraid of purchasing things and obsessing over how much things cost, trickle into my marriage. My husband and I openly communicate about what we spend money on. We even follow a piece of financial advice my cousin–married 20 plus years–gave us before we married. We decided on an amount of money each of us can spend freely on anything. If something is more expensive than the target amount, we have to talk about it before purchasing. Despite this rule, I’ve found myself having difficulty expressing financial needs. Not that my spouse is the type that would discount my needs over something he wanted, but I have a hard time expressing what I need for fear of what it might cost. This is probably a byproduct of how I was raised, but I don’t blame my parents for this mindset. I blame being an overly sensitive, slightly neurotic, anxiety prone adult. I am slowly working to reverse my reluctance to express my financial needs. And I’m slowly coming to terms with my relationship with money. While we may not be soul mates, money and me, we are on speaking terms again. That’s a healthy step in the right direction. Cheers! *fake money tree appears courtesy of http://www.marketyourcreativity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/iStock_money-tree.jpg (**the author of this blog sincerely apologizes if you thought at any time that the tree was real) 

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