Friday, July 13, 2012

Money and Happiness

I would walk into a grocery store and just grab whatever I wanted. I was justified to do this because we needed to eat. When the total was over two hundred dollars sometimes I had to wonder if the account would go into overdraft and take from our savings. When I shopped for the kids, again I was justified, and when I bought things from the hardware store, everything was a "necessity" and when I came home I would plunk them on the table, announce that we needed it all AND that they were on sale too. My husband would raise an eyebrow and question me and I would spit justifications at him like a rabid badger. When I went into a clothing store for underwear, I would walk out not just with underwear but with bras, a few tops, maybe a skirt and what the hell... my old watch is ratty and 6 years one hundred and ninety something dollars later on the credit card, I was walking out the door with a running tape in my head repeating over and over again that I deserve it and that we would find the money from somewhere.
And we did. It came from our bonus though, every year, we had a cycle of constant debt. I had a cycle of constant fogginess, unclear spending (do we have enough? the voice in my head said repeatedly) and guilt around money. In times of high credit card bills I would retreat emotionally from my husband and our spats would get more frequent. Life was less fun.
For a fleeting moment when I bought myself the new top, albeit twelve dollars, or the delicious goat cheese, I felt gleeful. It was a blip in the day though, it wasn't happiness. I knew money couldn't buy happiness logically and yet I thought that deserving something and giving it to myself would make me happy.
That's where the trap of the quick sand of debt got me. But I deserve it! I would scream and fight my way up and in fact, get myself further down....that thinking was causing my unhappiness.

Now my husband has long made good money, and consistently caused promotions and raises no matter what the economy. He provides. I just spend whatever he makes. If we have it I will spend it.
Up until this past year.

We got inspired and created Powerful Partnership. We committed to it like nobody's business and turned our financial patterns upside down. It took some hard looks, some getting over shame and some courage to grit my teeth and put the things back. It took excel spreadsheets and long talks about our goals. It took being ok with my husband's questions and being able to answer them. It took being more present to what we are creating than to the momentary desire of deserving something, to being "paid back". It took an investor's mentality for the future.

And we did it. We have weekly meetings, without fail, where we run the cash flow through a chart and can see where every penny is going. We acknowledge each other every week and the gratitude and partnership in our marriage expands our passion, our laughter and the safety our kids feel to be fully self expressed and loved.

Now, I am not a dummy, I always KNEW, I had the knowledge to budget. But knowing makes no difference. Over this past year I took a look at who I was BEING about money. That perspective, along with coaching and accountability, had us creating something new in who we are being as a couple and inside of that partnership I take responsibility and have immense fulfillment in who I am being around money.

Now, I take out the money and put it in white envelopes, labeled for each category. When I spend the money on meals I have planned out, I know we have the money. In fact I am delighted to know we have more than enough.We are not perfect, sometimes we splurge, but we are authentic and on the same page about it. We now have more money in savings than ever. We live in a home almost three times the size and are saving a thousand dollars a month. That doesn't MAKE me happy, I am clear nothing ELSE makes me happy, only I do. But it does have me sleep well at night, wake up with clarity, sigh with gratitude over lemonade while the kids play with toys we can afford... while we plan adventures in our future we can afford...and that feels like happiness to me.

Zen Honeycutt

To give credit where credit is due, ,the coaching I received on who I was being around money was from

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