I didn’t grow up poor, I grew up in a family that made poor financial decisions.
I grew up with a very anxiety ridden relationship with money. I watched month after month, year after year, of my parents constantly fighting about it. I honestly didn’t know that it was possible for a married couple to have a money talk without someone calling names, bringing up something totally unrelated to the conversation at hand, and the other one storming off fuming and screaming as they walked away. I thought this was normal and how all married couples “talked” about money.
I thought it was so normal that I never wanted to have money talks with my own husband. I wanted so badly to avoid a possible argument because I never wanted my own marriage to be like my parent’s. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s a very real thing. Financial anxiety. There are women like me all over the world who struggle with financial anxiety. They are so overwhelmed with the thought of a possible argument that they never bring up the finances. Money is kind of a taboo topic in society anyway throw in your own emotional baggage you have with it and it’s something you really don’t want to talk about so you avoid it.
How did I finally get over this anxiety? I came across a book called The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey. It was just what I personally needed. If you are sensitive and don’t appreciate a blunt forward approach then this book might not be for your but it was just what I needed, and what millions of others needed too.
Reading this book I realized I don’t have to live in the shadow of my childhood feelings about money. I don’t have to carry that fear I had for so many years. I can let it all go. I can move forward and talk openly about finances with my husband without the worry that we might have an argument. I realized how my parents handled and dealt with their finances wasn’t normal. Yelling and name calling isn’t a normal way for adults to behave and deal with their problems.
The Total Money Makeover isn’t all about your feelings, or how to deal with anxiety at all. But by putting Dave’s teachings into play every single month I was able to slowly peel away the anxiety. I slowly got comfortable with each talk we had. You don’t have to live in fear of money conversations. My husband and I are proof that you can break the cycle of your upbringing.
Here are some tips to help if you’re feeling like money anxiety is preventing you from talking openly about finances with your spouse
Breathe. This will help clear your head and calm your nerves. I do this all the time. I still struggle with social anxiety and sometimes it feels like my heart is going to beat right out of my chest. Sitting quietly and just breathing helps so much to calm myself down.
My husband and I rarely have an argument but not talking about things just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation about money can be just as worse as having an argument. Get uncomfortable and have the conversation. The more you do this the more comfortable the conversations will get.
Get organized with your bills. When I don’t write them down every single month I notice my anxiety starts to spark again. Keeping my brain on track and everything written down keeps me from worry. I use a simple monthly bill tracker that fits right in my planner that I love, you can get it FREE here.
Have a drink first. I don’t care how this sounds I enjoy having a glass of wine. It helps calm my nerves and helps me to relax. If a glass of wine does the same for you, cheers!
Talk about the details when the kids aren’t in the room. While I think it’s important for parents to teach their children about money and the proper way to use it, having your kids in the room while your trying to talk money one on one with your husband is just going to make that anxiety and tension go up. You aren’t totally focused on the conversation while sweet little Susie is spilling her drink on the floor and little Johnny is saying “mom, mom, mom” over and over again. I’ve been there and it skyrockets my stress levels. I prefer to talk about our finances while our kiddos are in bed, watching a movie, or playing in the backyard.
Lastly, take small steps to the money talks. Jumping full force will just set you up for failure. You need time to break down the anxiety barriers. Giving your mind room to process and day by day get over why you have your money anxiety. It’s not a race, it’s your life.