Money Message Principle #21 – Money Message and Family

Creating a new money message can have a profound impact on the health of a family. Here are two stories, both about men who changed the entire dynamic of their respective home lives by taking actions—big steps in one case, small steps in the other—consistent
with their new money message.

Remember Wendell, the CPA whose dad had a car dealership and worked so hard he never had time to spend with Wendell?  Wendell concluded deep inside that money is more important than family. As an adult he modeled his work life after his dad and missed out on ten years of his own kids’ lives.

Here is Wendell’s new money message: I live a life balanced in stewardship, praying to God with a grateful heart, nurturing my family, sharing my giftedness with others, and giving back from the first fruits of my labor.

I’ve become the dad I didn’t have. I left the big accounting firm and started my own business, so I can spend more time with my family. I now have my own successful CPA practice providing accounting, financial planning, and investment advice to families and small businesses.

I spend time with my kids every day. I make them breakfast and I help take them to drum lessons, doctor’s appointments, baseball practice, and Cub Scouts. When they are sick, I stay home with them. I rarely work beyond 5 p.m., I volunteer at both their schools, and once a month the entire family picks a great place to go out to dinner together. I had never done any of these kinds of things before.

In a funny kind of way, my money message isn’t about money. Instead, taking action in line with my new money message has allowed me to have deep and satisfying relationships with my children. I have talks with them that I never imagined I’d ever have. I won’t pass up spending quality times with my kids for anything—especially work.

Then there’s Phillip, who had always felt secure as a child, but who came home from school one day to learn from his mother that they were having financial problems. Phillip said it was as if a trap door had opened in the floor and suddenly he was free falling into an
abyss of uncertainty. He no longer felt safe.

This experience, and a series of choices to counteract that feeling of insecurity, shaped his life. He grew up to be a successful and wealthy doctor. As long as Phillip had lots of money he felt safe.

Phillip married an incredibly bright, entrepreneurial woman whom he adored. They were partners in all areas of their relationship, except for money, where they had very different styles. While she loved giving presents at holidays, he felt it was a complete waste of time and money. He could never figure out what gift to give, and his mood always put a damper on the festivities.

Spending in general was a sore spot. When his wife would wear a new outfit he would say, “Is that new? How much did it cost? Did you really need it?” Never did he say, “Gee, honey, that outfit looks great on you.” His wife felt guilty buying anything, and when she did, his attitude took much of the fun out of it.

And he had this habit of squishing the tail end of an old bar of soap on top of the new bar, which drove his wife nuts. Here was a doctor, making plenty of money, squishing soap bars together.

In addition to driving his wife nuts, he also never felt relaxed; he always worried. Phillip’s money baggage is: I have to be frugal and work long and hard to make money and there is never more than enough and if I don’t have enough, I’m not safe.

In discovering his money baggage, Phillip saw how all of his actions and choices affected his wife and kids. Holidays had a certain tone and his family all recognized that certain stressed look on his face. His money baggage was sucking the fun out of the family festivities. All because he thought he needed money to feel safe.

Phillip was determined to turn this around. He created his new money message: I’m grateful for the ever-increasing extraordinary abundance of creativity, health, wealth, leisure, pleasure, service, and contribution that flows through me now and always with ease. I am safe, whole, fulfilled, and capable with my abundant wealth. It is so fun and easy. Thank you, God.

The actions Phillip decided to take with his money message in mind weren’t big or earth-shattering. He simply started telling his wife how beautiful she was when she wore a new outfit—without giving her the third degree about whether she needed it or not. He took his wife out shopping for her birthday and didn’t complain about how much her new outfit cost. He told his wife he wanted to be responsible for buying their two daughters presents for Christmas.  He stopped squishing soap bars together.

To most people, these actions might seem small and insignificant, but to Phillip’s wife and children they completely changed the mood in the home. Phillip felt more relaxed. No one had to walk around on eggshells, worrying about what Dad was thinking. The mood, especially around holidays, was one of fun and play.

Phillip so clearly illustrates that when it comes to family, the slightest changes can make a major difference. Today, he says, “I say my money message all the time. It feels good. It feels real—it really does.” At one point, he added the word “contribution” to his money
message, after having a new insight: “My frugality, that came out of my need to be safe, wouldn’t let me be generous. Contribution opens up the flow so that I can do all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t, because I was so frugal. That’s all changed.”

Discovering your new money message and taking actions in the world compatible with it is a transforming experience. It is going to take a bit of tenacity and constant focus on your new money message to pull it off. But the work is worth it. Imagine what it will be
like for you to have a more conscious and collaborative relationship with money. Watch how that also changes the relationships to those closest to you. Go ahead, create your money message and then take actions consistent with it. Your family deserves it and so do you.

Next week – Money Message Principle #22 – Continuing the Journey

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