Katherine is my youngest daughter, and she needs to do things her own way. She isn’t rebellious but has to figure things out for herself. She needs time to process, understand, and then go about the work or task in her own unique way. A great example of this came when she was a 3-year-old. We encountered an unexpected challenge: when we told her we were leaving in 20 minutes, she knew that meant get your shoes and jacket on.
But get her shoes and jacket on, she did not.
And she did not for many mornings.
I remember the morning that the solution became clear to me as a mom. When we were rushing out the door and Kate would not put on her shoes, I threw up my arms and said: “Okay! I’m going in my room; please figure out how to get your shoes and jacket on, and I’ll meet you at the front door.”
Little Kate picked up her sparkly tennis shoes, walked over to the couch, laid upside down on the couch with her head over the edge and her feet up in the air…and put on each shoe. She zipped them up, put her hands on the ground, flipped her legs over her head, walked over to slip on her jacket, grabbed her backpack, and yelled from the front door:
“I’m ready to go, Mom!”
After that, she experimented with new ways to put on her shoes every day, each of them funny or silly or creative. This approach, I’ve learned, is a pure part of her personality; we don’t know what is going to come out of Kate’s mouth, but it’s funny or usually starts with “What-if…?”
Sometimes in life, we have to figure out what our hang-ups are.
For Kate, it’s being rushed and not having time to figure something out for herself.
It’s similar with finances. We all have things we get stuck on, as well as our own unique ways of looking at money. We each have to figure out our own individual approach to finances—and yours might be different from somebody else’s, even those you love and trust.
Here are a couple of things to consider as you figure out your “own way” of approaching finances:
Some of us make quick decisions; we just want to cross it off the list.
Others, including me, have to stop and have time to process decisions. There are lots of factors when it comes to our finances, we have to allow ourselves and others time.
With a partner:
Another layer: learning how to approach finances with a partner. Many of us have other people we need to work with because our finances are together. This would be in our relationships with our spouses or partners because finances play one of the biggest roles in our relationships. We have to listen to each other and give needed space to figure things out in our own way.
With outside influences:
It isn’t just our immediate relationships that affect how we handle our finances. It’s really hard to not compare what we have to our friends or get bombarded by the look of perfection on social media. And because we don’t generally talk about finances with our friends or extended family, it’s easy to assume everyone else knows what they are doing.
(The truth? They usually don’t).
Even harder: learning to make decisions that are different from our parents, mentors, or trusted friends. Most of us make our initial foray into finances based on how our parents approached money, but it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way. As you grow into your own person and your own unique lifestyle, your approach might look a lot different than theirs—and that’s okay.
When I find myself looking at others, and feeling like I’m behind, I have to stop and go back to what our teachers used to say during test taking: “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” Bring it back to your house, inside your walls.
What is important to you, your kids, your family as a whole? How do you work? What are you doing well and are you proud of?
Kate has taught me so much about figuring out things for yourself. She has taught me to create space for others to figure things out themselves and to encourage myself to do the same. When she was younger, she didn’t know how to voice, “Let me figure it out myself.” She needed guidance to find those words. I could only observe when I slowed down and gave her space and it became clear we could adjust some things in our lives to accommodate.
So how do you begin figuring out…how to figure it out?
It’s important we each evaluate what is influencing us when it comes to the decisions we’re making. Maybe we need to shut down some of the noise and be intentional about where we are getting our information from. Especially when it comes to our finances: you are probably more capable than you think.
Once you make the space to listen and reflect, I suggest returning to your original intentions—or set some, if you haven’t already. Take the time to reflect on what’s important to you and what choices you’ll need to make to get there. These intentions will help set the foundation for how you manage your finances and shape your own unique mosaic for years to come. Once you’ve established your goals and where your priorities are, you’ll be able to make the decisions with the unique financial approach that works for you and your family.
Now that Kate is in junior high, she understands how she operates and what she needs. She was recently in Willy Wonka the Musical at our local theater. Opening night, I saw Kate in a squirrel costume, dancing, twirling, leaping, scurrying back and forth on the stage, with the biggest bubble maker leaving bubbles floating behind her and the audience crying with laughter. I knew right away Kate had come up with something because she was given freedom to create, without instructions.
We each operate differently. We see our finances differently. If we can keep our eyes focused on our own unique, incredible lives, we can figure out what we want and how we are going to get there. Maybe some small changes need to be made or maybe some major adjustments may need to be figured out. It’s okay to give it some time—and maybe throw in a few bubbles here and there.
You can reply to this email if you would like to talk through ways to understand your finances better. We have helpful tools and love walking through finances with families together. We all are bringing so much on our financial journeys, and I would love to provide some clarity along the way.
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