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Change Brings About Stress and Stress Brings About Change

It was a stressful yet productive week in my household.  The lesson from my financial peace university class two weeks ago was "Relating with Money." We discussed marriage and money. One fact we heard was taken from a study conducted by Citibank: 57% of divorces in America are caused by "money fights."  This past week's lesson was called "Cash Flow Planning." A review of the lesson lead to the question: What prevents people from doing a cash flow plan (a.k.a. "budget")? My bold response was, "Fighting with your spouse." As everyone sat with their spouses and I sat alone, the room went silent. This was not one of the four reasons discussed in the lesson, however for me it is reality.

So I knew that the fight we had this weekend was inevitably coming. On Friday, I spent hours using one of Dave Ramsey's online budgeting tools. No matter how I configured the numbers, we were in the negative. What was really making me nervous was that eventually, my unemployment income will run out, and then I will not have the choice to use some of it if we go over-budget.  I felt an urgent need to act as if I don't have the extra income and present this budgeting dilemma to my husband.

It started with a Friday-night argument over his over-use of paper towels,  and ended with my husband (unbelievably)  washing out a ziploc bag for future re-use on Sunday night!  When I presented my proposed budgets to my husband, with great strife, I informed him that no matter how I worked the figures, I could not adjust them to come up with an accurate or logical plan.  There are so many necessary costs (such as driver's license renewals/car registration renewals/car taxes and car repairs) that we can not afford to put in our current budget. The budgeting software gave me the glasses I needed to see the picture clearly.  I could not grasp what Karen had requested of me in writing everything down, because I had already been doing that for years.  This was not a new concept to me and it did not work.  I also have a husband who refused to actually look at what the reality of what the bills are. But seeing is believing.

I can now see exactly goes into running our household.  We both have professional licenses to keep up.  I have continuing education to pay for. I need to project what the cost of these needs will be and save in advance. This concept was so foreign to me.  With the use of credit cards and the income to back up the expenditures, I never had to worry about how I was going to pay for anything.

A break through has been made this weekend.  My husband decided to look at the figures and make his own spread sheet.  He realized that our situation is much more grim than he thought, and now realizes that we need to make changes.  He now understands why I need to call the cable, cell phone, and insurance companies, to find out much we can save by cutting services and figure out whether it's worth it. I understand as well. We are in dire need of the financial counseling session.

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