What’s the Plan?

Husbands, have you ever showed up to one of your kid’s birthday parties without having much idea of what was going to happen during the party only to watch the party go off perfectly?  Have you ever gone a vacation without really knowing what the plan was for the trip and realize that everything has been planned out?

Wives, have you ever meticulously planned a birthday party for your kids and watched your husband show up and simply enjoy the fruits of your labor?  Have you ever planned a dinner party with multiple couples and felt like you were the only one who cared if the preparations and cleaning actually happened?

Too many times in my nearly 15 years of marriage these scenarios have played out.  The perfectly planned party, the flawlessly executed trip, the simple dinner with friends, and on and on and on.  It is like these things just happen and I don’t even have to try.  My wife is a terrific planner and organizer and always seems to pull these things off without much effort. The thing is, I know that these things all take a great deal of thinking, planning, and execution.  Often times it is the thinking and planning that takes the most emotional work and creates the feeling of doing things on your own.

“we shouldn’t walk through life with our money and not plan what we are going to do with it”

My dad often uses the illustration that nobody would decide to go on a vacation and not plan where they are going.  What would you pack?  How would you get there?  Where would you be staying?  It just doesn’t make sense.  In the same way that we would never take a vacation or throw a party and not plan it, we shouldn’t walk through life with our money and not plan what we are going to do with it.

There may be one spouse in your marriage who is really good at financial planning or who even enjoys it.  However, chances are good, that neither spouse really enjoys talking about money and the future and so nothing gets planned.  If my wife quit planning birthday parties or dinner parties, they wouldn’t happen.  How would they without someone planning them?  It wouldn’t be because we didn’t want them to happen, but those things don’t just happen without planning.

If neither spouse is a planner with finances, how do you ever expect to achieve your financial goals.  What even are your financial goals? Somebody needs to be thinking about the future and ideally it should be both people. My wife would be much happier with me if I proactively thought about birthday parties, dinner parties, and vacations.  As in planning trips and parties, most of the emotional work with our money goes into the thinking and planning.  The stress is in the planning and details.  If both parties work through the planning, then most of the disagreements about spending money tend to disappear.  You can always go back to your plan and change it, but it is the plan that needs to change instead of your spouse.

“Sit down, talk about your future goals, and then figure out your financial plan to get there.”

As I seek to be more proactive in planning my family’s social life, I would encourage you to be more proactive in planning your financial life. Marriage is a team effort and when half the team or none of the team is participating things tend to go poorly.  Sit down, talk about your future goals, and then figure out your financial plan to get there.  Who knows, maybe you will even enjoy the process of planning together!