Do I have an unhealthy attitude towards money? Or am I being realistic? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-25-2010, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Please help. This is becoming an issue in my marriage and I need to get to the bottom of this. But I'm not sure I can even paint a clear picture, so please be patient.

I grew up with every advantage and every opportunity. We were not overindulged (for example, Christmas and birthdays were never extravagant) but we did live in a beautiful house, went to private schools, traveled extensively, etc. I grew up very comfortably.

By the time I was old enough to live on my own and support myself, I realized that going to the grocery store and just buying "whatever" was not my reality anymore. My parents didn't give me tools to manage my own money, however, so this has been a long journey to say the least. But to be clear, they have always been there to help me out financially, so it's not like I've ever REALLY been in financial trouble. Just the awareness that things cost money and sometimes there isn't enough to do what you want.

Fast forward. I got married to an ambitious, go-getter of a guy. We worked together for a couple of years and did very well. We bought a little house, owned our cars outright, he was always fighting over the bill when we'd go out to eat with friends or family. Very generous. And it drove me crazy. We weren't living with a budget because, well, we didn't know how. And we were making a lot of money. But I am a closet cheapskate. And I hate that about myself.

Except fast forward a couple of more years, and life has really thrown us some curveballs. I won't bore you with the details of how we got here, but we are BROKE. Like, barely making ends meet broke. We learned about budgeting and snowballing and it feels like maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But we are on Masshealth, I am in the process of applying for reduced lunch, and I am considering applying for fuel assistance. DH HATES this and gets angry when I tell him I want to do this. It really hurts his pride.
In the meantime, we are surrounded by generosity - my brothers, my parents, his family. In fact, it's getting to be too much and is downright painful sometimes.

Fastforward a bit more. DH got a new job a couple of months ago. Full commission sales. And we are finally getting our feet underneath us. When I say this I mean we are finally in a position to have a baby emergency fund, and a tiny snowball. But since he is full commission, it's not like we ever really know what the next couple of months will be like.

And now dh is talking about taking the finances over and starting to tithe. I am having a heart attack over this. How can we give when we can barely pay our bills? I should also insert here that DH grew up Protestant and I grew up Catholic. My parents always gave at church, but it's not something they really talked about, so the concept of 10% seems foreign to me and I'm not quite comfortable with it (understatement of the century. I am PANICKED)

I'm stressed out about affording groceries, so how are we supposed to be able to "give"? I have to rely on my parents for shoes and clothes for the girls. As it is I have no idea how we'll do Christmas this year. And as recently as last month we were back to using credit cards for food and gas bcs DH's commission checks were slow to trickle in.

But in all honesty, even when we were doing well, I never felt like we had enough. SO what's with my hoarding mentality? A friend of mine said to me, "If you think about it, you always feel like you don't have enough, and now you actually DON"T. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy" Which makes me think my attitude towards money needs to change. Maybe this is a law-of-attraction thing. DH says it's ok to test God when it comes to giving (Malachai) but how do I even get to the point of being able to make that leap of faith? And should I at this point, when things are so scary?? MY DH would say this is EXACTLY the time to do it. But how?? At this rate, we'll ALWAYS be in debt, ALWAYS have non-existent savings and retirement and education funds. I am SO FREAKED OUT!

If you got this far, thanks. And I'd love some BTDT stories, or someone telling me I'm in the wrong. Or that I'm in the right. I just don't know what to think.
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#2 of 4 Old 10-25-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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Well clearly you are dealing with the 'spiritual' and 'compassionate' side of balancing your finances and not just the balancing of earning vs spending.

ONe piece of advice and please hear this if you hear nothing else. If you have any credit card debt AT ALL you should NOT give money to charity...your should apply that money to your debt. This goes for anytime you have debt, not just now.

Okay, that said, I get your confusion over when to give and how much, etc... My dh is overly generous and selfless when it comes to giving. I am not. I have become more generous and can see the value in it (in regard to giving even when you are strapped), but YOU have to be comfortable with the issue.

Your stress level and panic, if you give and your not ready, work directly against any 'good' you put out into the world. There are many, many ways to be generous and giving, not just by financially donating money.

YOu can volunteer at a shelter or at the church. YOu can help clean the church or offer babysitting services to other members of the church. YOu can donate used items and clothing, you can simply smile at people and give of your joy and happiness.

From what you have posted it seems to me that you should wait to donate money. If your DH insists then donate half of his suggestion (his half)(and this may directly effect something HE wants to buy but can't in the future), and for your half make an action plan and act on it so that your donation half is clear. For instance you will donate 1.5 hours of your time a week to charity.

This way to you can begin to reverse your self fullfilling prophecy as you mentioned. This is a balancing act...

Good Luck

not all who wander are lost
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#3 of 4 Old 10-25-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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Wow! There are a lot of issues there!

I think that tithing can take different forms -- giving time, giving items that no longer bless us so they can bless someone else, etc. I think to see it ONLY as money is very limiting.

Since you said you would feel the same way even if you had more money and want to work on your beliefs and attitude, I recommend reading some of Louise Hay's books. Her book "You Can Heal Your Life" has a whole chapter about prosperity. One of the affirmations she suggest is "I am totally open and receptive to the abundant flow of prosperity that the Univers offers. All my needs and desires are met before I even ask. I am Divinely guided and protected, and I make choices tht are beneficial for me."

She talks about coming to a point of feeling like we deserve to prosper, and that until we do, we limit what can come to us; and of seeing our bills as an acknowledgment of our ability to pay. It's good stuff.

I also think that there may be issues in your marriage if you DH has decided that he should call all the shots with money and give large chunks of it to a religion that you don't share. That's a whole nother issue. I totally understand not wanting to give money away while putting grocies on a credit card. It almost sounds like he thinks this is a magic spell to fix his finances. Some people do believe that.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 4 Old 10-26-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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I'm not even sure where to begin, it sounds like you are dealing with a lot of different issues.

Do you guys have a budget? Written out on paper (or on the computer!) with realistic expenses? I think this could help you a ton, because it sounds like you guys aren't sure how much you have and how much you need and how much you can spend. It also sounds like your DH working solely on commission is stressful for you, so you need to find a way to manage that - whether that's you or DH finding a more predictable source of income (either instead of or in addition to his current job) or building up a large backup fund for when he's not bringing in enough money...

I do think it's true that no matter how much you have, it's easy to think you don't have enough... especially with the lifestyles most people in the US live. The basic necessities are food, water, weather-appropriate clothing, shelter (which includes heat in the winter)... but then if you have enough money for those things, it starts to seem like other things are 'necessities' -- internet, cable TV, cell phone, car, etc. If you have enough for THOSE things, then occasional vacations, or an iphone, or fashionable clothes, or music classes for the kids, all start to look like necessities as well. Does that make sense??? I think it's really easy to get caught up in that and forget about the basics & you wind up feeling like you never have enough.

As far as tithing... I started tithing when I was a kid. I didn't fully grasp the concept until I was a teenager, and then I became more committed to it, though there were short periods of time in college where I stopped tithing (because the Mass I was going to did not take up a collection & I didn't think to give elsewhere, it didn't seem important at the time). When I wasn't tithing, it's true that I didn't feel like I had enough money. When I started up again, I felt much more at peace with my financial situation. For me, there is something about the act of giving that takes the stress out of finances. I fully believe that God will provide & that has proven to be true in my own life. So tithing is very important to me, in ways that I can't fully explain. Because we tithe, we can't go out to dinner or movies. We can't sign DS up for that gymnastics class I was looking into. We don't have cable & would not have internet if my job didn't pay for it, nor do we buy clothes or pricey produce. But I don't feel like we are sacrificing, because I want to give, and giving is a priority, and we feel very blessed to be able to give so much. I don't really know how to explain it & I wish I could. But we are giving because we WANT to, not because anyone is making us. I think forced giving will likely lead to a lot of anxiety & resentment... But if you are interested in tithing (but just scared), you can do it... but I suggest don't jump right in to 10%. It's not like 10% is meaningful & everything else doesn't count -- any giving 'counts' and there is a story in the Bible about a woman giving just two coins because that was all she had to give -- and that was more meaningful than a rich man giving his 10%... (Mark 12:41) You can give only $1. You can give only 1%. You can aim to eventually give 10%, but if you find you still need that other 9% to feed your children, you can find other ways to give... give your time or skills, donate things you don't need, etc. But whatever you chose to do, give joyfully and freely, not with somebody forcing you... And there's a big difference between giving only $1 because otherwise your family won't eat, and giving only $1 because otherwise your family can't go to Aruba for a week, you know?

ETA: You might post over on the Finances & Frugality forum about budgeting and living on commission etc., I'm sure you'll get some great tips!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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