Achieving Your Goals...Together

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How well do you and your spouse communicate about financial issues? What's at the root of your financial conflicts?

My motivation for writing this blog is to tell a story--a story that reveals a reality lived by almost every person with a deep passion. It’s a story which demonstrates that the simple possession of the right answers is often not enough to elicit change. It’s a story about teaching.

I am a professor, which means I teach for a living.  Whether it is teaching calculus to 40 freshmen in a lecture hall or a stability theorem to research-level biologists via a manuscript, the majority of my time is spent massaging content for which I am an expert and disseminating said content to an audience. This exercise involves preparation:  Who is my audience?  How much time/space do I have? Are there any personal/emotional realities that would alter my approach to content delivery?  Because students, people in general, and environments are constantly changing, so should my approach to teaching.  Through this realization I often learn as much from them as they do from me.

What I did not realize until recently was that I should be asking myself these questions in my home, too.

Since as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in personal finance.  Maybe this is because financial decisions are a constant part of my life.  To eat out or bring lunch from home?  To make my own coffee or buy a mocha at the coffee shop?  To rent or buy a home?  We are constantly making decisions that alter our financial standing, pressing us either closer to or further away from our financial goals.  I couldn’t download enough Dave Ramsey podcasts.

Shorty after I got married I was almost immediately stunned to realize that my spouse, the person I’d excitedly chosen to spend the rest of my life with, did not share my interest or intuition regarding finances.  Not even a little. Understandably, this caused many one-way “discussions” about how we allocated our resources.  When we started making more money, the consequences of these one-way discussions further escalated. Should we pay off student loans or should we buy a new car?  Should we build an emergency fund or take a well-deserved vacation?

“Honey, I know these things like the back of my hand. Trust me,” I’d say, as my wife responded with less-than-enthusiastic compliance.  I “knew” I had all the answers; she wanted more of a say. This sounded familiar…

In the classroom, it is an indisputable fact that students learn more when engaged than when passively absorbing information.  The famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” is a very appropriate proverb here.  I’ve always thought that student engagement is an integral part of my teaching style (I often only truly lecture 25-30 minutes of a 55-minute lecture period), even to the point where I often have students take part in the composition of their exams.

When I finally saw the connection between my role as a professor and my role as a husband guiding my family’s finances, I realized I had been missing the ball the entire time. 

My students don’t care that I have a PhD; they care that I care about their education. Similarly, my wife doesn’t care about how many finance books I’ve read; she cares about whether I take her values, her goals, and her dreams seriously. 

My wife and I needed to become partners in the financial process. I really wanted to teach; she simply wanted to be involved. It was a classroom made in heaven…

Written by Eric Eager



This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).

 

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