Back to those personal differences

When I raised the question in one discussion circle, ”Do men’s perceptions about money differ from women’s?” one participant remarked that everything shifts dramatically if you become a single parent. She explained that much of our money outlook depends on the roles we’re expected to fill.

We had already touched on ways that boys and girls have differed in their upbringing when it comes to money skills and identities. That’s another good topic to bring up in your discussions, if you haven’t touched on it already.

For example, I was taught that the man is supposed to provide — and then shown how my father and grandfather had fallen short. Do we need to go on?

Or does anyone else remember when National Public Radio’s popular “Car Talk” program got much mileage out of an observation that men tend to pay store cashiers with folding currency, while women generally use exact change — making everyone else wait in line a little longer? For months, callers offered zany theories about the causes. I’ve often thought when I’m in a checkout line, except these days many folks are paying with plastic.

Seriously, there are serious arguments about sexual differences on the money frontier. Consider our working assumptions. We live in a culture where men have been trained to be dominant and women subordinate. This has meant that men assume authority over money matters, perpetuate the misconception that money matters are a mystery only men can understand, and undervalue women’s work at home and in the workplace. We really do need to transmute this model into one of equality, mutuality, partnership, and cooperation. For women and for men.

What roles do you see yourself filling? How do money expectations shape them, even limit them?

As for those inevitable emotions in dealing with money

Hope you’re still keeping that little notebook to record every time you spend money on something. If not, start now. It’s the paper trail we’ll get to in a bit.

For now, let’s keeping looking at our personal encounters.

  • What are your individual images of money? Good or bad?
  • Are you comfortable with handling it? Uncomfortable?
  • Does money ever upset, anger, or depress you?
  • When does it make you happy?
  • How do your early childhood images and lessons regarding money and wealth affect you now?
  • Do you plan ahead to meet expenses? Budget for income and outflow? Set goals? Do you try to have a little of everything—or focus on a few objectives?
  • How do you feel in the presence of a coworker who’s about to lose his or her job? Or about simply going to the mall? What monetary situations make you the most uncomfortable?
  • Do you undertake major new projects, believing “God will provide,” or do you calculate and prepare in advance? Or, somehow, both?
  • How do you feel when someone tells you that the reason that your prayers aren’t being answered is because you’re not being confident enough, that you need to be more specific and aggressive? Do you take a “name it and claim it” attitude in prayer? Do sinners reap too many of the benefits of God’s creation?
  • At the core of your being, do you feel constrained — or empowered? Cursed or blessed?

If you are to control your finances, rather than the other way around, you need to acknowledge powerful emotions regarding money and wealth. What are your biggest emotions here? Anxiety? Fear? Joy? Comfort? Success?

That’s a lot to reflect on, but it is essential.

Which of these issues hits you the most?

Identify a negative money impression you’ve carried from childhood.

Now that you see it, name a corrective action you can pursue to reverse that trait.