I came into this work shortly after my husband and I were married. Like many newlyweds, we did many things that caused us to go into debt. I quit my secure job to spend time on the road with my husband, who is a professional singer/songwriter.
This was an amazing time for both of us. We then honeymooned in New Zealand and had some wonderful adventures that still cause me to laugh and fill me with joy when I think about them.
Eight months later, when we came home, I remember walking back to the house after collecting the afternoon mail. I started flipping through the envelopes. I saw a credit card statement, another credit card statement and our bank statements. It was in that moment that I felt a deep tension in the pit of my stomach.
I realized that even though I had married the man that I absolutely loved and adored, I really didn’t have a clear sense of how he handled money and how the two of us were going to blend our different approaches to handling money in our marriage. I was very organized, detailed and more frugal with money. He was more of a laid-back free spirit type. I also knew that getting on the same financial page was a key factor in creating a successful marriage and financial future.
Going Out On a Limb
I asked my husband if he would be willing to set up a time each week to talk about our finances and develop a plan for getting rid of our credit card debt (we had acquired over $43,300 in credit card debt over a three year period). My husband said he would be willing to do this. He was skeptical—but willing.
We came to refer to our weekly meetings with each other as our Financial Dates®. After we would complete a Financial Date, both of us felt surprisingly uplifted and empowered.
As a result of having our Dates we completely paid off all of our credit card debt within two years, started funding our retirement accounts, quit arguing about money, gained a solid understanding of our cash flow and created a spending plan that both of us were motivated to stick to. That was just the tip of the iceberg. And you know what—those changes didn’t really surprise me that much.
What completely surprised me was the synergy that my husband and I experienced when working together to achieve our financial goals and dreams. We wouldn’t have experienced this in our relationship had we not come together with a unified goal of improving our finances as a team—not individually, but as a team. This added an entirely new dimension to our relationship. I began to think of these Financial Dates as our own holistic approach to money and marriage success.
“Leslie, It’s Imperative That You Share This with the World!”
I was sharing the details of one of our Financial Dates with my mentor coach at the time, and she stopped me in mid-sentence, and exclaimed, “Leslie, you have so much excitement and passion around this Financial Dating concept and it’s an amazing idea. You have got to share it with the world!”
So with her encouragement, I completed my training to become a professional certified coach so that I could teach this process to others. I received my credentials through Coach Training Alliance, which is accredited through the International Coaching Federation. I then began to teach our Financial Dating Process to other couples.
Financial Dating® Created Financial Success for Other Couples
I remember one particular call I received from a man on a cold Montana day. He sounded overwhelmed and frustrated. He said, “Leslie, I heard about you through a friend of mine and you sound exactly like the person that we’re looking for. I really want to talk to you about finances and how to make this work in our marriage.” I invited him to attend a Financial Dating class I was teaching.
After the class he walked me outside and said, “You are the person that we’ve been praying for. I walked out of the house last week and it was the worst fight that my wife and I had had, and I swore to her, I promised her that I would find somebody who could help us, and you’re that person.”
I put together a Financial Dating class and he got together several other couples and I started teaching them how to have Financial Dates. One year later he shared with me that for the first time in 14 years he and his wife had finally put a clamp on the internal hemorrhaging in their finances. They willingly changed their destructive money behaviors, stopped charging to their credit cards, paid off $13,779 of debt, put $4,879 into an emergency savings account and saved over $51,200 in interest by transferring a personal loan. He also shared that he felt significantly closer to his wife. If they could do it, you can too.
Living a Fulfilling Life that’s in Alignment with Our Deeply Held Values
I have come to realize that successful money management is so much more than just paying off debt, buying a new home and stashing more money away in our retirement accounts. True financial success is about living a life that is in alignment with our most cherished values. It’s easy to say that we value our health, marriage, children, friends and family. But when we step back and look at how we spend our time and money, we’ll see that we often don’t spend it on the things that are most important to us. There’s nothing like money to easily pull us off track.
We have to stop and define what financial success means to us. I believe that true financial success is about having a life that is filled with life enriching experiences and time for the relationships that really matter. That means slowing down and not working so hard. Financial success is about the lives we touch and the lasting memories we make. It’s about spending less, giving more and living more.
Discover how you’re creating your current financial situation with your spouse…
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It’s amazing to reflect back on how life was for me many years ago: I was newly married, I quit a secure job and took an adventurous two-month honeymoon in New Zealand and came back to a beautiful new home in a gorgeous part of Montana with thousands upon thousands of dollars of credit card debt!
I found myself incredibly freaked out when I arrived back home with my new husband. I desperately wanted to discover wealth building secrets so that I could not only take practical financial steps but so I could attract wealth and money as well.
During the start up phase of my private coaching practice I decided to take up a side job of landscaping gardens (i.e., read between the lines — I had acquired a part-time job as professional weeder for my mother-in-law of all things!). I would wake up in the morning and wonder if were even possible to have a successful career as a business owner and get out of the crazy debt mess that we had created.
And we did – but it didn’t happen over night. There were times when we felt like the proverbial fish out of water. There were many times my husband and I felt discouraged and disheartened.
I see clients in my private practice with the familiar sense of overwhelm that I had experienced. They feel stressed because they are burdened with student loans and credit card debt and back-taxes. Others are living paycheck to paycheck with multiple overdrafts on their bank accounts. Still others are searching for more meaning, purpose and direction in their lives as they embark on new careers.
Many people experience the voice of fear and doubt in their head – yet in spite of this, they persevere. After building a successful career and climbing out of credit card debt I now realize that a big part of my/our success was in “doing the inner work.”
In order to win in life we must be willing to do the inner work. Success isn’t just about achieving a specific desired outcome. It’s about shifting our mindsets so that we achieve our desired outcome. This applies to any struggle or challenge that you’re having – not just the financial challenges.
In order to achieve your desired goal you need to:
1. Get determined. I see people all the time who lack determination. They talk the good talk but they really don’t want to take action and do something about their situation. What they really want is to vent and complain. And then there are others who have the burning drive and conviction and you just know that they’re going to “make it” in spite of the many obstacles they encounter.
It’s the inner drive that keeps them going when the going get tough, when the bills pile up, and there’s not enough money coming in. It’s the inner determination that keeps them pushing until they’ve transformed their failures and struggles into successes.
2. Allow yourself to be a beginner. This is such a tough one for many of us. When we’re learning a new behavior (like balancing our checkbooks, tracking how we spent money, creating a spending plan, having Financial Dates with our partners, getting rid of debt or embarking on a new career) we forget to allow ourselves to be a beginner. We expect ourselves to do it perfectly and then act surprised and get discouraged when we fail.
You’ve got to be patient with yourself. It’s like the metaphor of learning how to ride a bike for the first time. It feels awkward at first. Remember to be gentle – you’re not suppose to know what you’re doing!
You will fail at times. And you know what? That’s okay – Expect it! All you need to do is stay the course until your old limiting behaviors have developed into strong, powerful habits.
3. Have a faith. It’s okay to get discouraged from time to time, but in the end you must find a way to access faith and belief in your ability to turn your situation around. If you’re frustrated and depressed all you’ll see is a dismal, gray future.
If you’re able to shift your thinking from “I’m stuck and I’ll always be stuck,” to “Anything’s possible. It’s happened for others and it can happened for me as well,” then you’ll access new insights and creative solutions that you couldn’t have seen from your negative state of mind.
If you do nothing else but implement these three inner success steps you will succeed eventually! Because financial success really is an inside job.