When we first started on this road to a Rice and Beans Life, my husband and I were broke. Dead broke. Broke as a joke. And sadly, I don’t think we really knew just how broke we were. We didn’t have any idea what our debt tally was. When we got married we’d known each other for about ten years but neither of us really knew our own finances nor, really, the actual debt load we each brought to our marriage (we had a vague estimate). Of course, love would conquer all! But, as it always will, eventually reality sets in. And the bills must be paid. Suddenly we realized how much we didn’t know about our financial beliefs. Being a reader by nature, I figured there must be an answer in a book (of course this was long before my first instinct was to search the internet!). I found a book that was helpful by a financial guy named David Bach (you may have heard of him) and it was focussed on couples. One of the first chapters asked the most important questions I’d never even considered: “How did each of our respective families handle money as we grew up?” and “Is this still how each of us assumed money should be handled?” Wow. We had a decent income and the bills got paid so we hadn’t really considered it. I thought all married couples sat down the way my parents had and worked on their finances together. He assumed the wife did it mostly. That’s how each of us were raised. The good news is-these questions opened up a good and clear discussion for us. In this discussion I learned that someone who mattered a great deal to him (someone other than one of his parents, actually) had told him “Well, you’ll always be in debt so why even bother trying.” He didn’t really have a lot of experience with finances so he believed it. After all, everyone he knew held a car note and a credit card or three. For myself, I assumed the only way through college was through student loans since I hadn’t managed to get any scholarships. I’d been told it really did take 20 years to pay off a college loan and so I believed that, too. I don’t think either of us are naive or unintelligent. We just figured those around us knew better than we did. Now, all these years later, I credit those first questions: “WHY do you each believe what you do?” and “Where did that belief come from?” with starting us on the road to understanding where and how we learned some of our financial beliefs so we could take a close look at them-each and every one of them-and start asking do they really make sense? And is there another, possibly better way? Over the course of our years together, we’ve continued to ask these questions of each other and of ourselves and it has refined our approach to life and our finances. We are more deliberate now. We know why we believe what we do about our finances and that the beliefs we have fit and are taking us in a far better direction.
So my challenge to you today is where did your financial beliefs come from? And do they still fit? Are they taking you where you want to go?