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The Financial Balancing Act

One of the first things I learned about having a bank account and a checkbook was to make sure it was balanced. This meant that whenever I spent money, I was to subtract it from the money in the account so I knew what my "balance" was. The goal was to maintain a "desirable" level so I always had what I needed. The act of maintaining this financial balance always made sense and is a fundamental goal behind most money management practices. We're taught to minimize expenses, manage debt, be mindful, plan ahead, regularly review our financial status, and seek financial advice to keep us in the black.

All good, sane advice.

The reality?

Life happens. What financial balance means for one may not mean the same for another. What's desirable for you might not be desirable for me. Thus the tricky business of balancing what works for all comes into play. For example, it's not uncommon to have a couple with opposite or, shall we say, complementary styles of managing money. One might not care much about it and yet has a knack for earning. The other might struggle to ask for money or hoards money out of fear of losing it or not having enough. If they're married, they might disagree about what constitutes a desirable bank balance. One might be more comfortable with risk and simply trusts that money will show up. The other worries about uncertainty and wants to feel more in control or to have more of a cushion.

Welcome to the balancing act.

Growing up, we're led to believe that money is pretty cut and dry. We have it or we don't. We earn it, save it, or give it away. If we need more, we work harder or for longer hours. We might even place some bets or use financial strategies like investing to make more of it.

What we don't learn about is how our relationship with money adds another layer of complexity. For example, we may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education that we assume guarantees a healthy balance in our bank account. Yet, the combination of the debt we owe, a decision to move to a town with high rents and costs of living, and falling in love with a big spender could throw those expectations out the window.

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong relationship with money unless that relationship is causing harm.

  • If disagreements are leading to financial hardship, then there's something bigger going on.

  • If you think money is bad, you might avoid checking your bank balance often enough.

  • If you don't care about money, what might you not care about in other parts of your life?

The goal is to understand what's driving your decisions in the first place. This is a process of pausing, noticing, and then choosing how to move forward with greater clarity and intention. If you're off balance in life, it's likely your financial balance is off as well.


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