Putting Everything on the Table

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WHAT I'M THINKING ABOUT: Putting Everything on the Table

Quick: what’s the number one thing you’ll spend money on, no questions asked?

When discussing spending habits with clients, I often hear “Oh, that’s my thing.” That’s code for: “That’s an untouchable expense. Don’t ask me to change.”

Be wary of building a sacred fence around a particular area of spending, which can lead to debt or conflict with one’s partner over expenses. Sometimes the “thing” is a guilty pleasure — weekly massages, whiskey tastings with the guys — and sometimes it’s something more magnanimous — giving generous gifts or taking your kids to an NFL game. But even worthy causes require consideration of appropriate boundaries.

Your thing can still be your thing, but it needs to fit with your means and larger priorities. Be willing to talk about and address all areas of spending. A critical look at sacred areas of spending can reveal latent motivations underlying our financial habits which stem from larger life issues — for example, perhaps overspending on gifts for one’s children stems from a lack of quality time together. Be willing to put everything on the table as you consider your finances, and you’ll be in a healthier place.

Here are two interesting articles I read this month:


How to talk to your parents about their estate without seeming like a greedy jerk
By Andrea Coombes, MarketWatch

If you enjoyed our Caring for Aging Parents article this summer, you’ll find this article helpful as well, featuring more suggestions for talking points and how to manage the flow of the conversation with your parents.


Maybe We All Need a Little Less Balance
By Brad Stulberg, The New York Times

We should all strive for balance, right?  Wrong — at least according to this article, which looks at the fulfillment we experience when going all-out for a passion and finding your flow.

“Maybe the good life is not about trying to achieve some sort of illusory balance. Instead, maybe it’s about pursuing your interests fully, but with enough internal self-awareness to regularly evaluate what you’re not pursuing as a result — and make changes if necessary. Living in this manner trumps balance any day.”