If you want to save your money and marriage, financial balance is crucial. A good (and bad) example of this is the story of my friend Jim. I’ve never seen a person more upset about money.
His multi-million dollar business was dying. I agree, that’s a hard pill to swallow. He worked hard for 23 years and grew his enterprise from a small business idea to a major success. He had a lot to be proud of and to be grateful for. The problem was that the market shifted as a result of online shopping. As a result, his business was dying now, there was nothing he could do to stop it and Jim was coming apart at the seems as a result. I can understand why Jim would be upset but he took it too far.
By working hard, he had accumulated a substantial net worth over the years exceeding several million dollars. So even though the business was going bye-bye, he had enough to retire on at that point. So in some ways, Jim was out of touch by taking the decline of his business so hard. Granted, it’s hard to see the business slowly fall apart. But it wasn’t going to impact Jim or his family from a financial standpoint.
Still, Jim was obsessed and couldn’t stop thinking about this loss. Even though he had no prior history of compulsive behavior, he became depressed and starting living like a recluse. He refused to leave his home. He wouldn’t eat or bathe. As much as his wife tried to help, at some point, she had enough and left.
All Jim had left was money – but it was no good to him. The only thing he focused on was what he lost rather than what he had. And as a result of that, he lost even more.
While Jim is an extreme example, he isn’t the only person who goes bananas over bucks. According to a Pew Research Center poll, 60 million Americans worry about money most of the time. These people are smitten with money misery. Sadly, only 15% of us are satisfied with our financial situation.
In 30 years of helping people make smart decisions about money, I’ve come to two conclusions:
First, there are many simple things that people can do to make their financial lives much better.
Second, there are some things we can’t change and we have to learn to come to terms with that.
Let’s take consider Jim’s story and take in all the lessons:
Had Jim focused on gratitude for all he had, it might have made the challenges easier to live with. Whenever I get down, I list 10 things I am super grateful for and once I do that, the problems seem inconsequential. Make a gratitude list daily. You’ll thank me later.
What’s really important to you about money? Certainly money isn’t that important on it’s own. It’s only important to the extent it helps you and your family achieve your life’s goals. Write down a list of your own life’s priorities and share them with the other members of your family. Ask the others in your clan to do the same. This will help you view the ups and down in life through a healthier lens.
Are you living in a way that gets you closer to or further away from the things you want most? If Jim really sat down and thought about it, he would have understood that his family was far more important than the business. But he didn’t see it. Since he was worried about the wrong problem, he lost the most precious thing in his life.
Your spending, saving and investing is a three-legged stool that determines how your future financial story read. Run a plan – either by yourself or by hiring someone to do it for you. A financial plan doesn’t predict the future but it does indicate where you are likely going to end up given your current behaviors. Run that plan now. If you have to make changes, do so sooner rather than later.
If you are the kind of person who points the finger at others and the mistakes they’ve made which cost you money or peace-of-mind cut it out. You’ve made mistakes too Pilgrim. Humility. Holding on to resentments isn’t going to solve any problems. Just remember you aren’t perfect either.
And while we’re on that topic, forgive yourself too. Jim spent way too much time beating himself up for business blunders. Again, we’re all human. We make mistakes. Get over it. If you glue yourself to mistakes that you made or that have been made by others, you’ll miss the opportunity to grow and enjoy life. Forgiveness is a gift. Take it friend.
Money is a super emotional subject. There aren’t many topics which are more charged. To deal with your finances in an adult manner focus on gratitude, be clear on your real objectives and be objective about it. Then, run a financial plan to make sure you are on track. And along the way, forgive yourself and others.
In all these endeavors, make sure you and your spouse are both involved. Having a peaceful marriage depends on your ability to communicate and reach agreement. Take these steps and you will eliminate 90% of all the struggles you currently have around money in your marriage.
Are you struggling with finances in your relationship? Have you found a way to resolve those differences? What did you do?
You are right and yours is an excellent point. The business became his identity…a dangerous transformation.
Yes, it’s easy to be critical “from the outside” and be amazed that this man couldn’t reorientate and just be satisfied that he had reached financial independence, etc. But one has to consider that the business obviously wasn’t just about the money to him, but it was his passion, and therefore much of his identity. I can see how hard that would be to let go of. I hope he’s doing alright now.