Money and Emotions

How to Disentangle Them . . .

emotional spendingMoney and emotions are intricately linked. Most of us know the feeling of wanting to spend to make ourselves feel better after a hard day at work or after a stressful activity.

Even if we phrase it to ourselves different — “I want a manicure as a treat” or “expensive chocolates would taste good now” – the desire to have those things is linked to a desire to spend in order to care for ourselves, to reward ourselves, or to protect ourselves from stress.

Spending emotionally is only a problem when you are overspending. To some degree, everybody spends emotionally, whether it’s for a great suit to make oneself feel important or entrance to a nightclub to dance the night away.

If you’re overspending because you spend emotionally. You need to curtail it.

The first step out of the web of money and emotions is to become aware of why we might be spending when we either binge spend (rack up big purchases or a lot of little ones suddenly, for things we don’t really need) or go way over budget for the month.

First, plan a rough budget for all the necessities: rent/mortgage, food, transportation, clothes, anything else you need on a steady basis.

Second, if you binge spend or go way over budget, examine your purchases. Why did you make them? Write it down or record it on your computer. Why? Well, in order to take action, you need to define what the feelings were. You need to get it out of your head, too, and into someplace else, like a journal or an audio/video diary.

Once you know why you did something, analyze what you can do differently the next time you get a trigger like that. Ex-husband driving you crazy? Call a friend and share emotions rather than spend.

keeping relationship strongWhen a relationship finds itself in a rut, it is important to change monotonous patterns. A useful option is to attempt to mimic what the relationship was like during its earlier phases. It is specially recommended to take part in an activity that causes a surge of adrenaline. This excitement can help your partner and your relationship. Watching a scary movie, riding a roller coaster, going on vacation, or exercising together are good options. When you expect less, you get more from your partner.  However, it is important for your partner to know your top two expectations. Conflict is inevitable in any situation, but there are ways to mitigate frustration.

On average a happy couple has a 5 to 1 ratio of good experiences to bad experiences. To minimize negative feelings avoid constant fighting, keeping secrets, miscommunication, and problems with household chores. Consistent affective affirmation is useful for letting a person understand their value in your life. These are specially effective in men, since women are able to get these affirmations from other people in their lives. An affirmative action is telling your partner that “they are your best friend.”

Use communication to learn about the other person’s inner world. The ten minute rule states that one should spend at least ten minuets everyday talking about something other than family, work, obligations, or your relationship. The point of this is to get to know your partner better. In contrast to popular belief, it is okay to go to bed angry. Staying up late at night can worsen a situation. Late at night solving skills slump, and people are unlikely to fight fairly. A good night’s sleep can help you see the situation differently the next morning.

A Fragile Balance of Power: Making It Work When Only One of You Makes the Money

Fragile balance of powerFor centuries, the cultural norm of the husband bringing home the bacon while his wife tended the homefront tipped the scales of relationship power firmly on the side of the man. Culture has taken enormous strides in the past few decades, however, and has left an entire generation of women expecting more balance in their relationships — but not really sure how to achieve it. Women in the workforce has helped, but that isn’t a practical solution for every family. And when Mom is the breadwinner while Dad stays home with the kids, the problem is often amplified.

Be Honest About Your Expectations

Whether your work situation is about to change or you simply feel like the balance of power in your relationship needs to be more balanced, the two of you need to have an honest conversation about what you expect from each other and from yourselves. You may find that you have very different ideas about your roles in your relationship. Clarifying — and finding a way to agree on — expectations now can head off problems in the future.

Be Flexible About Your Expectations

When you spend your days juggling a newborn, a toddler, and a never-ending pile of laundry, it can be easy to plop Baby straight into your partner’s hands the minute they walk through the door. Similarly, it can be easy to feel like you shouldn’t have to do any housework even on the weekends when you spend your days making the money that houses, clothes, and feeds the family. While you definitely should help each other out, expecting things that you didn’t explicitly agree on will only set you up for disappointment at some point.

Make Money Decisions Together

Of course, you talk about the big things — buying a new home, when and how to get the car fixed, saving for retirement. But even the small decisions, such as how often you should go out to eat or how much to spend on school clothes for the kids, should be a joint decision. Only one of you may make the money, but how it is spent affects you both.

A stay-at-home mom or dad can easily feel powerless when they are financially dependant on their spouse. Make an effort to communicate about your needs and expectations, and that fragile balance can bring harmony to your relationship rather than drive a wedge through it.