• Cheryl Chenault-Shumake

5 More Money Moves Every Stepfamily Needs to Make

And, you thought we only had 5 Beyond Basic Financial Strategies?! Girl, no!!! The last post was meant to, get the conversation started for you. Now we get to go beyond beyond basic strategies. Actually, these strategies can be applied across our lives, but since we’re talking about money we’ll stick with financial application.

Drum roll please .... Number 1:

FEAR LESS


Most people in a second marriage have experienced trauma of some sort. When you’ve experienced a past trauma, or a breach of trust, fear often becomes a primary informer of future decisions. It may come masked as caution or wisdom but in your heart you know the difference. Wisdom is peaceful. Caution is prudent. Fear is torment.

Presumably you married your spouse in part because you trust him. If you can trust him with your heart and as a member of the parenting team for your child, surely you can trust him to contribute to the financial well-being of your family. And if you find it difficult to trust your spouse, trust God.


ADD A LIBERAL DOSE OF WAIT 

My grandmother was never a rich woman, but always what she needed. She used to tell me, “Don’t waste your money on wants then have nothing to take care of your needs. And know the real difference between the two!” It was a message I needed to hear but as a college student, newly introduced to the world of department store credit cards, one I did not heed. The ensuing indebtedness caused me to embark on a long, sometimes painful, campaign to refocus my heart on what really mattered. Along the way I learned the blessing of “Wait”. That word has saved me from many potentially regrettable decisions.

“Wait” permits possibilities while leaving room for responsible decision making. “Wait” allows you to honor your spouse, goals, and circumstances. “Wait” keeps “yes” on the table while you weigh the impact of the financial choice in front of you. “Wait” gives you time to talk to yourself, in a good way: “This purse is so cute but do I want to be charged 29% in compound interest for the privilege of carrying it every now and then?” You will never regret dousing your finances with “wait”.


SPEAK UP


Before marriage, Jonathan and I chatted about how to best merge our budgets and financial habits. One conversation included the “must haves” in household purchases. His must have is Charmin bathroom tissue. For him, using any other brand of bathroom tissue is grounds for incarceration. Me? I’m a choosy Mom. My must have is Jif peanut butter. Don’t come to my house with a jar of Skippy yelling, “Yippee!” There will be a quite bit of shade in my welcome.

It is important to make allowance in your financial planning for the things which are important to you. We are establishing a “Cheryl’s Give-a-way” fund so I can give at my discretion without impeding our financial goals because that’s important to me. If you visited the hair salon once a week before you got married and you want to continue doing so, speak up. If there are career development opportunities you want to take advantage of or hobbies you wish to maintain, speak up. Avoid drama and resentment. Speak with your spouse and incorporate what you can into your budget. But remember, you married your spouse, not your must have list. Stay flexible in case you need to adjust to changing circumstances.


GET IN SYNC

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. Psalm 133:1

Jonathan and I brought 2 homes into our marriage. We had already decided to sell them both and purchase an “our” home but there was a distance of 61 miles between each home. We were anchored in our respective communities by family, friends, church, doctors, etc. So, what’s a couple to do?

You and your spouse have an exclusivity in which unity is the goal in every aspect of the relationship. It’s called, “becoming one”. The pledge to pursue this goal is included in traditional wedding vows, but even when not included, it is the intended outcome of a good marriage. Being one doesn’t mean only physical oneness, nor does it mean sameness. It is being in exclusive lock-step commitment to each other. To be unified in action, working together, sharing everything.

After much discussion we came to the solution which worked for us. Since Jonathan was a non-custodial parent, at the time, travelling every week, we decided to keep both homes until my daughter graduated from high school, about 4 years, so she could remain in the community in which she grew up. When she graduated, we built our retirement home in an area literally half the distance between our two homes so we could maintain community connections we wished to maintain without much inconvenience to our spouse. Your finances work best when you and your spouse are locked in on mutual goals and making decisions, as a couple and individuals, to support those mutual goals.


FORGET RIGHT, BE EFFECTIVE


During my first marriage, my then husband wanted to go into business with a coworker. I knew it was the wrong decision to make. I cajoled, reasoned, argued, and threw in conditions. All to no avail. It was a lot of effort (and argument) for no result. At some point I realized, although I was right, I was not being effective. So I shut up. I began praying. He went into business anyway. I kept praying, without saying anything further to him. Out the gate, they had 5 big contracts lined up. It looked like they would be successful. I prayed. I said to the Lord, “I am willing to admit I’m wrong but I really sense this is not your will for us. Father, I ask, if this is not according to your will, please dry up every single contract.” Within 5 days every decision maker backed out.

Listen, if you're right but not heard, what difference does it make? I learned how to be effective. Sometimes that means I shut up and pray. Sometimes it is allowing the other person to discover things for themselves. God will give you the strategy to be effective. Losing the right to be right is an exercise in pride-killing but it opens the door to a type of effectiveness that fosters influence and impact beyond belief.

The Money Moves list would not be complete without this bonus move:

CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT

Little else will derail your financial health faster than dissatisfaction. When your gaze is locked on what you don’t have, what you do have will satisfy your heart. In other words, if you are constantly hungry for more, more will never be enough. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in its bottom. People who struggle in this way have closets filled with clothes and shoes with the tags on, yet never have anything to wear. They have pantries filled with unused or duplicated kitchen gear yet still long for the latest and greatest gadget. They live from paycheck to paycheck trying to finance an image, yet the image fails to deliver on the promise of happiness.

Dissatisfaction is an enemy of financial peace but you can overpower it by cultivating contentment. Contentment is not a passive by-product of thinking better. It is active and requires intention. You create contentment with gratitude. Gratitude and contentment go together like ice cold milk and Oreo cookies. Gratitude constructs, nurtures, and empowers contentment by keeping you focused on what is good in your life.

A church released a video a few years ago which went viral. It was released around the holiday season. In the video a man wakes up and everything is wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper; his bed, his wife, children, shower head, food, shoes, car keys, car, everything. The point of the video is we have much more for which to be thankful than we realize. Living with that understanding is a pathway to contentment, and freedom.

I hope these financial moves brings peace and stability to your life and marriage.

To your step-mothering success!




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