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Be Foolish with Money October 26, 2012

Posted by downton in Be Foolish with Money.
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Be Foolish with Money

There are so many ways to be foolish, a book could be written about them. For example, it’s foolish to gamble, to use drugs and alcohol to excess, to have unprotected sex, to avoid going to a doctor when there’s a medical condition, to have an affair, to have more children than you can support, and, as a teenage girl, to believe it might be cool to have a baby. When we lack good sense and sound judgment, becoming foolish will be just around the corner. The funny thing is that, if you tell someone they’re being foolish, they’ll deny it for as long as it takes for cows to learn how to sing. Yet, the thing about being foolish is that, no matter how much we deny it, it will still mess up our lives. Foolish always wins and we are the losers.

If you want to screw up love in a hurry, be foolish about money. Two of the leading sources of agony in relationships are fights about sex and money. If you’re foolish about either, look out because they’ll be a life quake coming. That’s like an earth quake, except it breaks up your life and relationship rather than breaking up highways, bridges, and buildings.

In a relationship, there is often one person who can handle money with intelligence and good judgment and another who shouldn’t get near it. That’s the way it is in my marriage. My wife, who I’ve been happily married to for 51 years, has good money sense, while I have no sense for money. She’s smart and I’m playful. She’s more cautious and I’m more of a risk-taker. She can add, subtract, multiple, divide, balance the check book, pay our bills, and give away our money to good causes. Me? I’m smart enough to let her do it.

Now the stupid thing to do if you’re the foolish with money kind of person is to cry foul and contest the inequality in your financial affairs. You can’t wait to get your hands on the money so you can spend it. Now, I want to tell you something you already know: If you’re the person who is good at handling money, you think about what you need and allocate the money to get it. If you’re a person who is inclined to be foolish with money (notice I didn’t say you are foolish) you’re driven more by what you want, you know, like a bigger house (you can’t afford), a new car (you don’t need), a vacation to some exotic place (that will cost you an arm and leg).

If we only think about what we want, we’re bound to become foolish. Why? Because if we are an impulse buyer who is driven by “I want”, wisdom will go out the window. Consequences? Never heard of them.

So here’s the deal. Decide who in your relationship is good with money. By that, I mean, uses good judgment and looks at needs and practicalities before even thinking about wants and their stronger impulses. Let that person manage your financial affairs, including investments, bank accounts, donations, and retirement plans.

Wait, I can hear some of you say, but shouldn’t there be mutual involvement? Yes, you’re right, but always look to the one who is wiser with money and let that person have a stronger voice. It will keep the amount of money foolishness down, which will reduce the number of money-related fights, which will cultivate, not screw up, love.

One of the reasons that I’ve had such a loving and happy marriage? I was smart enough to relinquish financial decisions to my wife and she was smart enough to manage them so we have enough money to enjoy life and even to donate money to organizations helping to improve living conditions for people in the world.

When you work out this division of labor, you can buy my sweatshirt with the following words written on the back, “Hard work and wisdom create money; foolishness destroys it.”

Coaching tips:

■Have a deep and thorough conversation with your mate about which of you is wiser with money. They chances are that you already know who that person is, but, if you’re more inclined to be foolish with money, you might resist that knowledge. Why? Because you don’t want to be that careful with your money. Relent and you will reap financial benefits in the future.

■Work out your division of labor about money. One of you might be wise in one area and the other wise in another financial arena. Make “wisdom” your financial mantra.

■Always let what you need trump what you want.

■To keep your purchases under control, use my practice, “Do I really, really, really need this?” This is the question to ask when you’re thinking of buying something. Asking this question will help you make good buying judgments, so you can enough money for a comfortable life and enough to avoid arguments so love can grow.

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