Recently, I went to the mall with my 12-year-old daughter. We were inside of a department store where I was paying for a few items. The cashier asked me if I wanted to get an additional 15% off by applying for their store credit card. Before I could give my normal answer of “why would I want to get 15% off only to have to pay 22%+ in interest.” “A department store credit card is one of the worse forms of credit on a person’s credit report”, my daughter says “Mom, you should get it.” “You always shop here.” YOU CAN IMAGINE MY FACE AT THAT MOMENT. I think my heart skipped a few beats. I knew at that moment that she needed more information to bring understanding to why all offers to save you money are not always in your best interest. I needed to explain to her the difference between a debit card and a credit card. I needed her to understand that all credit is not bad, but the ABUSE of credit is always bad. I needed her to understand that money is a tool to be used and that the best consumer is an educated consumer. Most importantly, I needed her to understand the concept of compound interest and finally, I wanted to make sure we were speaking the same money language.

Today, I received several e-mails and in-box messages that dealt with financial challenges between a husband and a wife. Although the challenges were all different, varying issues, they all had the same root: the husband and wife were speaking different money languages. Couples often get caught up in “symptoms” of financial incompatibility that is displayed when one spouse makes purchases or spends money helping others that the other spouse doesn’t approve of. This reaction doesn’t take into consideration the emotional conditioning that has taken place as each person encountered growing up. Of the couples that I meet with that are my clients, 95% of their financial woes are rooted in their emotional relationship with money as a child.

A lot of times (especially with women), our financial affairs often mirror an underlying personal sense of inadequacy. I have a friend that always says that a poor self-esteem is one of the most expensive things to finance. For men, especially if they grew up in a home where their father was absent and they helped take care of the home and their mother always called them “the little man of the house” there will always be a sense that, even after marriage, they have to take care of their “Moms.” Now, knowing this, it is unfair to make judgments against your spouse without ever considering their internal financial blueprint. You have to COMMUNICATE to gain understanding. I have discovered that there are four levels to money: Emotional, Spiritual, Practical, and Cultural. We tend to almost never take these levels into consideration when we date or marry a person. We tend to try to hold people hostage to our own standard of financial accountability, not knowing what’s on their “financial blueprint.”

You have to make your communication count with your spouse. This is why communicating with your spouse (or yourself if you are single) about money is so necessary if you want to build a financial house of fortitude, you have to be able to identify beliefs and emotions that hinder your financial success as a family. This is one of the reasons I am currently writing my book entitled Discovering Your Financial DNA.

Communication is a two-way interaction. The goal of communication should always be to create a connection to the person you are communicating with. You have to be clear, concise, consistent and committed when you are discussing your finances with your spouse. Words are tools, so use them to construct your message.

Try these conversation starters (AND PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AFTER AN ARGUMENT OVER MONEY.) It won’t be as effective.
• How do you feel about yourself in relation to money?
• Who managed the money in your home when you were growing up?
• What kind of relationship did you have with that person?
• What did you learn about money from that environment?
• What positive or negative messages about money did you learn as you grew up?
• How does your childhood experience with money affect your spending and financial behavior today as an adult?
• Do your current money habits mirror someone else in your family (past or present)?
• Do your money habits reflect the absolute opposite of someone who influenced you as a child?

You would be surprised how this little exercise will help you gain an understanding of why your internal financial blueprint is wired the way it is. Hopefully, it will help you connect the dots, draw some conclusions and keep our eyes focused on creating a balanced life financially.

Remember, everyone has a story, what’s your story?

Until we meet again…