Know Your Money Blueprint

DH = Dear Husband
DD3 = Dear Third Daughter 

DH and I recently marked 5 years of debt-reduction. I took a little time to wander down memory lane, and I re-read a post I’d written May 26 2012, just a few days before we took the first step of our journey out of debt June 1.  “Not bad!” I thought, and since nobody read my early blog posts, I thought I’d share it again today. The concept of money blueprints was important for us to grasp as we began to confront our money mess. It helped us to acknowledge what our starting point really was.

Money blueprint

          What are the messages about money that you absorbed in your childhood and have carried into your adult life?  T. Harv Eker, in his book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, says that each one of us has a money blueprint that wields enormous power in determining our financial health, and that most of us are unaware of it.  He encourages his readers to reflect upon the “truths” about money that they came to accept unconsciously while growing up.

Two different money blueprints

          DH, who is reading Eker’s book, sat down with me and told me what he had discovered in his reflection.  As he allowed his mind to go back to his childhood, DH recognized that for his father, money was always a problem – something to worry about; something ominous that needed to be controlled. DH considered his own financial behaviour in light of this blueprint, and realized that he habitually maintained a financial balance that was tenuous.  When things were good, he made spending decisions that brought us back to anxiety.  So for DH, homeostasis, when it came to money matters, was a state of worry requiring control.  That was familiar.  That’s what he subconsciously gravitated towards.
          He asked me about my money blueprint.  It’s difficult for me to sum it up as neatly as DH did, but here it is:  My parents were excellent managers of money.  They raised five children on one income; bought second-hand cars; stayed clear of the pitfalls of materialism; sent us all to university; and gave generously to their church and other causes. But the topic of money was politely side-stepped in my family.  It was discussed in vague terms if at all.  To me, it was only clear that there was a pot of money somewhere.  I saw that money came from the man.  I knew that there was money when it was needed. I learned, in my teens and early twenties, that there was money if I made enough of a fuss.

The marriage between our two money blueprints

          As a young woman, I was a disaster financially.  All the good role-modelling of my parents was subverted by that trick I had learned of getting what I wanted by raising a fuss.  In rebellion against what I had considered austerity, I enjoyed material purchases that I couldn’t afford, yet I was repelled by the base details of managing finances or acquiring any pot of money of my own.  That’s what the future man would attend to.
          Carelessly in debt, I married a man who was always worried about money and anxiously wanting to control it.  Mind you, he was in debt too.  Eeeek!  We each made good salaries though, so we’d be fine, right?  You can imagine the respective shocks to our systems when DH lost his job. For him, there really was something to worry about, and he had lost control.  For me, there was no pot of money, and I, the woman, became the principal bread winner.
          Ugh!  These are humbling reflections.  We don’t need to wallow in them though; we just need to admit to them so that we know the point from which we’re moving on.  For starters, I have to lose my repulsion from the “base” details of financial management.  I have to work with DH to overcome our debts instead of leaving it all to the man.  He is amazed by my recent engagement in our finances, and he welcomes it.  It allows him to adopt a more positive outlook on what can be, and to cut loose the bonds of worry.

Our starting debts

          As for our debts, here is where we’re at:  We have four debts that total over $257,000:
#1 New Car Debt – $8,600
#2 Old Car & Course Debt – $12,800
#3 Business Debt – $80,800
#4 Mortgage – $155,000
          Dave Ramsey gives the strategy of paying off the smallest debt first and of “snowballing” towards the largest debt.  So right now, it’s all about focusing on debt #1.  With that in mind, we have our first monthly budget to finalize.  There will be information to gather and decisions to make.  For my part, I will dig into the details along with DH, getting my hands dirty with prices and sales and options.  We’ve reflected upon where we started; we’ve acknowledged where we’re at; now we’re moving forward.

Five years later, I can say we have moved forward. Our original debt of $257,000 is now down to a $77,000 mortgage. We still operate with an understanding of our old, deeply ingrained financial blueprints, but as we keep steering our finances in a healthy direction, new blueprints are gradually forming. And they’re much more similar to each other than those old ones were.

If you are married, did you and your spouse enter your marriage with different financial blueprints? Do you find that your old financial blueprint has been replaced by a newer one? Your comments are welcome.

22 comments on “Know Your Money Blueprint

  1. To answer your question, YES! Mr. Adventure Rich and I had two very different blueprints when we were dating. It came from different backgrounds/upbringings, motivations/laziness and financial educations. We began to piece through our blueprints while dating and really began to merge/goal set together while engaged. So on our wedding day, we were much more aligned though we have still made progress over the past 3.5 years to bring everything into one financial blueprint!

    1. How wonderful that you and your husband got on the same page from the get go! What motivated you to “piece through our blueprints while dating”? Most of us don’t think of that in the early stages of romance – though we all should! Thanks for your comment, Mrs. Adventure Rich : )

  2. My wife and I did enter our marriage with different financial blueprints. Honestly, I’m not sure you could call them blueprints, a blueprint suggests you could build something from it. All we built was debt. I think we had financial cliff notes. Over the last seven years, we have been forming our own, new blueprint as a couple. Something we are actively sharing with our three children with hopes they will modify the plans to work for their futures.

    1. “financial cliff notes” I like it! You could play with that word “cliff” too – as in a steep one to plunge from. I am sure that your children will benefit from your experience. The fact that you and your wife talk finances in front of them and with them pretty well guarantees that they’ll be paying attention to their finances as they become adults – unlike me at that age. Thanks, Brian : )

  3. So interesting to read your early thoughts, since mostly I’ve been following you along after you’d made a lot of headway.

    Jon and I entered with different blueprints, and it still showed. Jon is way more naturally frugal than I am. He squeezes every dime til it hurts, constantly looking for ways to save. I tended to spend within my limits, but not actively look for ways to save when I didn’t need to do so, and I invested money without actively looking for more to invest. Now I’m much more likely to look for good ways to save than I used to be, but he’s also no longer complains when I spend more money on good healthy fresh food instead of less on ramen and canned tuna.

    1. I love the way a little ramping up on the part of one spouse allows for a little relaxation on the part of the other. Sounds like you and I both ramped up, Emily – though you were miles ahead of me in terms of your starting point. (How are the work-outs going? And the healthy eating? I’m getting lots of exercise, but I still find the food part challenging. I’m eating better for sure though.)

        1. Summer is great for exercise! Sounds like we both wish we were more “on” with the eating. One day at a time . . .

  4. Hubby was a spender and I was a saver. He was (and is, of course) 6 years older than me, so at 23 and in love, I let him plot our financial course. Learn from me, young gals! Don’t imagine that he’s got some kind of hidden wisdom because he’s a man and/or because he’s older than you. He doesn’t. Wipe off those love goggles and stand strong!

  5. Congrats on the progress. That is remarkable.

    Thankfully my wife and I are both savers and we got married debt-free. I just happened to repay my loans a few months before I first met her. It definitely made merging our finances much easier (along with the mutual distaste for my old job).

    1. What an advantage to be on the same page from the beginning! I think it’s cool that you paid off all loans just a few months before meeting your future wife. Perhaps if you are financially strong as a single person, chances are you’ll gravitate towards a financially strong partner in life.

  6. Holy deepness, Ruth! This really has me thinking! We definitely came in with different blue prints, but we were both aware of them. Partially because my blue print includes hypervigilence around money haha.

    Congrats on five years! And I think I’ve said this to you so many times it’s annoying, but I’m so impressed with and proud of you for the amazing work you’ve done to get that number down so incredibly low.

    1. Annoying? Not at all! The encouragement offered in these online spaces is not something I often find IRL. I hope that changes with an elimination of the taboo on debt talk. It’s a L-O-N-G road, and those of us on it benefit tremendously from words of encouragement – not just at the starting blocks and the finish line, but the whole way through. So don’t hesitate to say it!
      Your hypervigilance sounds like it has been a good thing – very different from my husband’s worry/control blueprint. It made you and your husband aware of your financial wiring from the get-go. Thanks, Femme : )

  7. Mine really were ideal financial role models in every way, which I largely absorbed (though I’m a bit looser). His family are the total opposite and he was definitely more of a financial disaster. A lot of this stems from class differences – a topic for a post of its own (that I’m working on!)

    1. Class is rarely discussed on pf blogs, and I think you’re right about it being worthy of its own post. In North America, and perhaps more in Canada than the US, class is largely considered a non-issue. The vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle. I get the sense that class is a more obvious fact of life in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think that’s right? Obvious or not, it plays a role here too – just not one that is on the radar. That will be an interesting post, NZ.

  8. Wow! You’ve come a long way well done! Financial matters were rarely discussed at home when I was younger. My partner and I had completely different financial blueprints but we have learnt to overcome our various challenges and are now on the same page. This is key to avoiding money issues and achieving financial goals.

    1. I think that in Western societies in general, finances are considered the least romantic thing to talk about – almost an indecent affront to concept of romantic love. But most divorces result from money stress, so a paradigm shift is needed here. I’m glad that you and your partner are on the same page. Thanks for your comment, Esthy : )

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