My Two Cents, Your Two Cents

One of my favorite things about being a financial planner is helping couples identify their money-values so they understand why the person they married behaves the way they do with money.   I know that your wealth management firm is supposed to be talking about saving, investing, and insuring.  But today I start something different–a topic we can all relate to:  When our spouse directly (and indirectly) spends money, thinks about money, and behaves with money in a way that seems all-wrong to us.
How about I use myself as the example and let you in on the worst fight I’ve ever had with my husband?
It was about dish soap. Yep, dish soap!  
I was washing dishes one night and noticed the soapy-brush-thing was worn out.  Without a thought I tossed the nasty thing in the trash.  He walked in and promptly rescued the brush out of the trash with this exclamation, “Oh my word, Leanne! Since when do we throw money away?"
I thought he was kidding, but then quickly learned that he was very serious.  He pointed to the chamber full of bright blue soap and informed me with great frustration that he had just refilled it. I was riled up, “You’ve got to be kidding me, mister! That’s like 2 cents worth of soap.  You’re really talking to me about 2 cents of soap right now?”   Yes, indeed he was.   We escalated to defend our individual “right-ness” for 15 minutes like 3 year old’s fighting over a crayon.  It ended when I handed him two cents from my wallet and he poured the soap back into the bottle of Dawn.
We can laugh about it now.  Sort of. 

This story from my kitchen is a great illustration of how different people value the “wise” use of money.  That’s a loaded statement!   What is wise use of money?  Who decides?   Our soap-fight reflects how money-values can cause small, medium, and large issues at home.
My husband’s money-values saw tossing the soap in the brush the same as throwing money in the trash. 
My money-values didn’t prompt me to think about soap as money; I saw it as something going down the drain anyway. 
·        He valued the two cents: I didn’t. 
·        Two totally different paradigms!
How money “should” and “should not” be used in life are etched in us from our up-bringing.  Then they manifest in our lives as effortlessly as breathing.   As individuals we are 99% sure that we make the “right” decisions with money because… it’s how we behave.  I haven’t been married half as long as most of Total Advisor’s clients, but I have an observation to share.
When one (or both) people in a relationship can laugh at themselves and admit that their money-values aren’t the only expression of financial wisdom, then amazing things can happen!
·        Where there was default frustration, there can be understanding. 
·        Where there was control, there can be sharing. 
·        Where there was no plan, a plan emerges.
·        Where there was judgment, there can be grace
·        Where there was incongruence, there can be same page strategy.
The goal of sharing my kitchen soap story is to get us laughing at our own financial behavior and understanding our spouse’s financial behavior with a whole lot more love and compassion.

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