My wife and I are currently in the middle of planning a week long vacation to the east coast. We're doing a driving tour of New England, starting in Niagara Falls, New York, and making our way towards Bar Harbor, Maine. As we've been planning this trip, I've never been more aware of the fact that sometimes managing money is both an analytical and a psychological pursuit. I've come to realize more and more that while you can plan for something – budget for it, save up your money, find great deals and be frugal about your expenses – that managing money and making spending decisions also has an emotional and psychological component to it. If you're not careful, one or the other component can take over – and make your decisions become the wrong decisions.
Managing Your Money Analytically
In our family I tend to be the one that likes to look at our finances from a strictly analytical viewpoint. I like setting up a budget, setting spending and savings goals, and then working towards those goals without thinking about the emotions behind them. I don't like to think about emotions having a role in the family's financial decisions, I just want to make decisions based on what is mathematically the best. What route will mean that we have the most money in retirement? Which car will give us the best gas mileage at the lowest price? Or in the case of our vacation, what decisions will mean that our trip costs the least amount of money?
Managing Your Money Emotionally
My wife on the other hand tends to think more about our money decisions in the context of relationship, and how they will affect us emotionally and relationally. She thinks about the experiences we can have while on vacation, and how it will draw us closer together. She thinks about the fun we can have doing those activities, regardless of how much they might cost. She values things to the degree that they are valuable for growing our relationship, and how much they contribute to our emotional well being.
Finding A Balance Between The Two Extremes
I think my wife and I look at money from different viewpoints, and often times those two viewpoints can come into conflict. I simply want to find the best deal, make analytical decisions and build our bank account. She on the other hand wants to do things that are fun, grow our relationship and give us common experiences that we can share together. Both of us can get a bit two focused on our own viewpoint, and not realize that both of our viewpoints are valid, and are necessary in order to have a strong marriage and strong finances. We both bring things to the marriage that are important and without those things our marriage wouldn't be complete. It brings to mind this verse:
Haven't you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,' and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
The two become one flesh, and through their union they become one complete whole – through Christ. To me this verse also illustrates how God brings us together and how we designs us to complement each other. While I may be more analytical about our finances, my wife balances me out and reminds me that sometimes you have to focus on more than just dollar signs. Sometimes building the relationship is just as important. My wife likes to focus on the emotional side of money, and building the relationship – but I'm here to remind her that sometimes we need to be careful about how much we spend.
All of us need to be careful about where we find ourselves in life, and we need to make sure that we're not getting too far to one extreme or the other. We need to watch what we're spending, but we also need to take time to enjoy life – and each other. The key to being successful both in life and in your finances is to find a balance between the two, where you realize the importance of making sound financial decisions, while also being able to sometimes let loose, enjoy each other and just have a good time.
Find a balance between making analytical decisions, and allowing your emotions to play a role, and you'll be on your way to success.
What do you think about the balance between analytical decision making and allowing your emotions to play a role as well? Do you swing towards one end of the spectrum or the other? Do you have someone that helps to balance you out? If not, do you think you should? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!