A Way to Balance NOW and NO

Why is it so hard for us to say no to ourselves?  My friend Joe wrote here that No Equals Yes and saying no to stuff is actually saying yes to more important things in the future.  I wrote similarly about the same subject here regarding a quote I heard on The Biggest Loser about saying no to instant pleasure really meaning yes to long term health in body or finances.  It is apparently something we all have to think about – saying “NO”.

Here are some scenarios I see in families that make life difficult for spouses to say “no” instead of “now” when it comes to financial decisions (I’m using Joe’s list of examples):

  • The kids don’t understand why their college fund is more important than the game, so we’ll say no to our own well being much less a college fund so the kids can be happy NOW.
  • The wife has to drive a new car for “safety” reasons, so that is more important NOW than the retirement account.
  • The kids are being deprived of family memories and relationships if vacation isn’t at least a week at the nearest beach every year, so small vacations NOW become more important than saving for big-once-in-a-lifetime vacations to Hawaii or Europe.
  • The kitchen is so embarrassing we can’t invite people to our house so it needs to be upgraded NOW even though we’ve been called to give that money to a worthy cause.

The list of scenarios like this could go on and on.  As you’re reading this don’t let it cause a spontaneous conflict with your spouse.  Instead consider a method of managing it.  What if you both made a list of things that are important to each of you.  Stagger the list with one thing that is more important to her followed by one thing that is more important to him then repeat her, him, etc.  Any time a NOW want comes up that will interfere with that list of priority you both have to agree where it will interfere or IF it will be allowed to interfere.  It has to be ok to say NO.

For example when a weekend getaway or painting the bathroom becomes a NOW desire a decision has to be made where the money will come from or if the NOW is going to be  NO.  Refer to the list of priorities and you have to both agree where it’s coming from or the NOW becomes a NO.  I’m not saying this happened at my house recently but….. it came down to taking it from the car repair savings or the Christmas savings.  We agreed to take it from the Christmas fund and we have a plan for paying it back.  That puts us in debt to our Christmas fund but we’re ok with that because we’d rather be in debt to ourselves than to anyone else.  The answer was NOW this time but there are plenty of NO moments too.  Let’s just say we’ve been wanting hardwood floors for a long time.

How do YOU manage these decisions effectively and keep the peace in your marriage?

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