Family Finances

by Alexandra Rosas
Originally Published: 

Based on a study I made up for this post, the leading cause of divorce in this nation is? You know it: CASH. The Mean Green. Dough. Bread. Moolah. Clams. Smackers. Family Finances.

There are more slang terms for money than there are for sex. Why? Because it is behind everything we do. Unlike sex, which men think of every 2.7 seconds, money occupies the mind of both male and female.

One partner will fantasize along the lines of, “if I save x amount of clams every day, I will soon RULE THE WORLD!” whereas the other will think, “how can I find a way to feed my family in the most organic way possible and STILL have enough left in the budget for the banjo lessons little Loukia’s been wanting, and the extra cell phones the twin teens will need now that they’re co-careening –er–driving the family car.”

One spouse will want to hang on to every dollar, the other spouse sees how the money needs to be spent; today, not in the year 2065.

How can we get our differing financial values to meet? We don’t want the big D over this, but it can turn to that. Fighting and clashing over what to do with the family money.

Must we all walk around in frayed hem rummage sale pants that end above the ankle with worn out knees, to reach the other spouse’s life’s desire for his earnings? Should we walk down the street in clothes that Mrs. Angelina Jolie Brad Pitt Jon Voight is standing by breathless, in wait for, hoping for a cast off?

What I have found has brought some peace to our union of marriage, though I did gasp when first hearing the word, is the family budget.

Such a dirty word. Conjuring up images of handcuffs, dark dungeon like existences, rigid confines, never a moment of mirth and merriment….just me? Sorry.

The family budget, where you decide what your priorities are as a family, and work from that communal goal. You can excitedly plot your dreams for your family, together, and work toward them. It’s your values, and your choices for reaching for these values, that will help you stay within the limits of your set budget.

As an example, let’s take the daily latte. Do you go for it? Every day, it’s only $4.50, what does that hurt? $4.50 for thirty days is $135.00 a month. If that doesn’t shock you enough, multipy $135.00 by twelve, and you have thrown $1,620.00 out the car window at year’s end.

A budget helps you decide yay, or nay, to that double tall breve latte.

You can use this budget Q&A self talk before any purchase. On one hand, you mentally place the object you’re pondering to purchase, on the other hand, you mentally place your family’s goal. You look at each hand, and ask, “$4.50 latte, or finished basement.”

And therein lies the beauty of the budget. You now have something you’re trading in for your lusted object of purchase. Rather than just having to say no to fun, you see how you are saying yes to a family dream.

But, what do I know. I’ve driven my husband to talk in his sleep, in Ben Franklin adages such as, “small holes sink big ships” and “never spend today what you can save for tomorrow.”

What do I know? I know this: that I have listened to my husband with an open ear on budgets, I no longer plug my ears and sing, “lalalalalala I can’t hear you,” when the subject of monthly bills comes up. I am working with him, not against him. And that, is better than doing nothing.

After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.

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