Being that this is tax week and all, this seems like a really appropriate topic to tackle! We just had our final meeting with our accountant (with a complicated set up like ours with multiple corporations for both the photography business and the Black Tie Media Group, as well as a lot of sub-entities with our teaching, online resources, and actual photography….it takes several meetings to get all that right! :) And one of the things that we were spending a lot of time talking about in this last one were our financial goals for this year…and how we have some pretty BIG audacious ones when it comes to our mortgage and student loans. Anyway, the point of all that is that it got us talking about how we really feel like we’re totally on the same page when it comes to our finances now…and how that wasn’t always the case!
*Photo Credit: Jose Villa
I’m just going to put it out there, when we first met I would say that both Justin & I were spenders. But him much less so than me. Like I blogged about yesterday, I came from very little. And through the years of doing all of our mentoring for other photographers & small business creatives, I’ve come to realize that when people grow up very poor like I did it either turns them into super-savers because they never want to end up back there….or super-spenders because they feel like being able to buy things equals the good life! I totally get it! That second one was me to a tee. I pretty much only had yard sale or super cheap clothes growing up, so spending money on clothes became my good life. I only had half a roof and a trailer growing up, so buying nice things and decorating our house became my good life. And all of that equated to me being a spender. And Justin being a bit of a spender himself, he had his own things (like cameras!) that he loved to spend money on.
Somewhere along the line though, that started to change. And it changed with Justin first. All of a sudden, he started becoming a super saver and making all these spread sheets to track our spending. Meanwhile, I was still living in spending land! So there was this period of time when we just weren’t on the same page when it came to our money. And it caused a lot of tense conversations in the middle of Target, I can tell you that! :)
But the crazy thing is that in this last year or two, I would now officially for the first time in my life consider myself a saver. And on our drive home from the accountant, Justin was saying how he had seen such a huge HEART change in me over the past few years that he was really proud of. That it wasn’t just something I was doing to go along with for him, but that something had actually changed on how I view money now. And it’s really true. It’s been a whole shift in my thinking and my goals and what matters most now. And it’s been amazing! So how did we go about getting on the same page financially and what changed? And what do we recommend for spouses, partners or friends who are running a business together to do to get on the same financial page? I think it’s a lot of things, but these would probably be the top 6!
1. Figure out WHY you’re a saver or a spender. When you can articulate to your spouse/partner/friend why you are one of those things or the other (i.e. I grew up poor and watched my friends always have more, so to me spending is the good life) then I think you can understand where the other one is coming from a lot more. It also helps you understand yourself & your own motivations more. And I think understanding that is the first step in getting better at how you approach money.
2. Remember that either extreme can be a problem. Obviously it’s not a good idea to go on crazy spending sprees all the time…but you also don’t want to turn into such a fearful saver that you forget to live and have fun some of the time. As with everything, balance is key.
3. Come up with shared common goals. Rather than thinking of it as one of you saying no to a shopping trip to J.Crew, try to think of it as both of you saying yes to that loan you want to pay off or that kitchen you want to pay cash for.
4. Have a secret handshake. I’m totally serious here. For those tough Target moments or in the middle of a group of friends at dinner when you don’t want to have a whole tense, awkward conversation about spending, have a secret code word or handshake you can do to remind you both to get on the same page. I’m not going to tell you ours, because then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! :) But let’s just say it involves a pretty epic fist bump!
5. Contentment. The second you decide to be happy & grateful with what you already have, that’s the same instant that those “buying because it makes me feel happy” moments will get diffused. We all know those shopping highs never last anyway, and the more you buy the more you want. The next time you feel the urge to buy, go take a walk through your house and check out all the cool stuff you already have! See if you can make a game of it….how long can you go without buying something new!
6. Remember it’s not yours. For us, when we really start to wrap our heads around the idea that every good thing we have has truly been a gift to us from God (even the talents & ability to do the hard work that make us money are still all from Him), then we start to take a lot better care of it. I know that this won’t apply to everybody & that’s totally fine! So another way to think about it, is to think of what you want to leave behind for your kid. Somehow realizing & remembering that we are just stewards of these things that we get to hold onto only temporarily, makes it a lot easier to take better care of them than when we think of them as our own!
As always, we hope that helped! And here’s to not just building wealth, but building a legacy. The kind that can be a game changer in our families for generations to come.
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