How we shifted our mindset from from ME to WE
Studies show that finances are a key factor in divorces. All though we were not married in our twenties we can say that finances played a role in many of our arguments in our youth. Many of these arguments, were because we literally did not know how to talk about finances.
We were stuck on the mindset of “Mine” vs “Us” or “Me” vs “We”. At the time, we believed we managed ourselves (individually) rather than managing ourselves (as a team). When you know better you do better.
- If rent is $900 then make sure “You” have your $450 on the 1st
- If you used “My” car, make sure you put gas back in “My” car
This difference in perspective led to instances where if any one of us needed help financially, we could not effectively share that with the another. It was a build-up of inner emotions, that essentially led to tough conversations, that led to potential arguments.
Again, we were not transparent on our financials, so we were doing a disservice to our family by living in our own financial space as “Me” not “We”. Not knowing what the other person’s credit/financial situation was, put unwarranted stress on one another, as we did not need to share accounts, balances, or expenses. If moments of unexpected expenses arose, it would put us in a situation where cooler heads did not prevail, as it was sentiment of that’s “Your” expense not “Ours”.
We struggled for years, on how to manage finances as young individuals, parents, and college students.
It was not until our thirties in our marriage that we finally were able to drop the financial mindset of “Me” and shift it to “WE”.
Simple Steps to create the shift from “ME” to “WE”
Step 1: Acknowledge the past
We had to confront and recognize the faults we had in our past, both financially and communication wise. We had to share what we disliked about how we handled situations verbally, and how we strained our relationship by potentially putting one another in an unfair situation financially. This come to Jesus conversation was a MUCH NEEDED. It was a weight we both carried that was based solely on assumptions and perceptions of how we are so different in budgeting and financial priorities. In the end we were not very different, as our goals we much the same:
- Put our family in a better financial position now and in the future
- Pay off debt (Credit Cards, Loans, etc.)
- Create more income
- Build an example for our daughters
- Work as a team
Acknowledging the past and the areas where we failed helped us to build a strong foundation to where we are now.
Step 2: Establish Family Goals
As mentioned, prior, we had very similar financial wants, now it was time to decide to move forward collectively and come up with our goals as a family, as a team, and as a support system for each other.
Team Rodriguez Goals
- Acknowledge that the debt we have is “Ours”
- Financial conversations cannot come with negative outlooks
- Be transparent with debt, income, expenses, etc
- Identify what our collective debt total is from all accounts
- Put into form a plan of action
- List all debts from smallest to largest balance
- Identify a group of debts we want to payoff within an achievable time frame
- Cut up all credit Cards and refrain from charging
- Manage current household income to account for all bills, and collectively identify an amount each could send as an extra payment to the debt we’ve both agreed to pay off
- Identify potential additional streams of income
- Children participate in extracurricular activities despite our financial situation
- Plan for future savings and emergency funds
Step 3: Communication is Key
Create a safe place for communicating with one another. No assumptions be clear and concise. Keep an open mind, and acknowledge what ideas are good and which need further discussion.
- Weekly budget meetings
- Family activities on the family calendar
- Understand each other’s financial priorities
- Ability to compromise
- Identify needs and wants
- Identify budget areas of improvement
Walking through these three steps allowed us to get away from the mindset “Me” to “We”. Just because we are married does not instantly mean we are on the same page. We had to put work in to achieving debt freedom, the same way we had to put work in to build a stronger US.