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.
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.