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I got out of the shower the other day with this random tune stuck in my head. I knew I had heard it before- but it wasn't ringing a bell.
Where have I heard this?
What's this from?
Finally, it hit me while I was making the bed: it's the background music to your Barbie computer game, circa 1984.
What on earth drug THAT out of my memory?
Oh, now I remember. I rode to a concert with a friend that I had grown up with. For some reason, she remembered sitting in front of our Commodore 64, playing that game.
Being that computer games were still relatively new, the concept was really pretty simple: Barbie would walk in her house to a phone call from Ken, asking her on a date. She hopped in her convertible Corvette and headed to the store to buy something to wear that night. If they were going to play tennis, she would go to one clothing boutique. If they were going to dinner, she would head towards another store.
(you can skip the first 30 seconds of this clip- there's a long opening before it gets to the good stuff)
At least 70% of the time, she would get back from shopping, only for Ken to call and cancel the date because something had come up. Then he would call again and ask for another date and she would go back to another store to buy something. My OCD would always raise its ugly head when he would decide at the last minute to change the place they were going. Barbie would end up wearing a swimsuit to dinner!
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I guess without shopping and Ken, Barbie had nothing else to do. No matter what happened, Barbie went to the store. If she was happy, she went shopping. If she was sad, she went shopping. (And don't get me started on the message that Barbie couldn't go out with her friends for dinner or that Ken felt it was OK to cancel on her that many times. I'll cork my inner feminist so I can focus on the real topic of this post, LOL.)
Literally. POOR Barbie!
The computer game never showed the rest of Barbie's life. I never saw her sitting on the couch crying over the argument she and Ken had had over her spending habits. I never saw her wondering how she was going to pay down her credit card bill.
Barbie must have been independently wealthy or flat broke.
Suddenly, while putting the last of the fluffy pillows on my bed, it made complete sense to me why so many woman struggle with money. During childhood, we played pretend games about money. As we grew up, our parents didn't always teach us about money or share appropriate knowledge about finances with us. To look good for a date, to be in a place where we could meet someone, to show our love for others, to attend a baby shower, to make it the best holiday season ever, or to celebrate our anniversary- it all involved money. And each year, the gifts and outpouring of love had to be bigger and better than the year before.
I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Greutman at a conference. We really hit it off one day during lunch when I discovered that she had been a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. As we sat there chatting, she asked me if the couples I worked with in therapy had problems of money.
People often say that money, sex, and communication are the big reasons that people come in for marriage therapy.
But truly, money, sex, and communication are the symptoms of what's really happening in their marriage.
When money shows up as a problem in a marriage, it often means there are other issues at hand. Three ways financial troubles impact your relationship are:
- Secrets: Sometimes spouses hide their spending habits from their partners. When the other person finds out, things explode. Is it really about the money they spent- or the breakdown of trust? How can they ever trust them again? Every time they sit down at the computer to pay the bills or run to the store it may leave the other partner on edge.
- Poor Boundaries: If you have a hard time sticking to the budget, chances are it's hard to say no to other things, too. You may always be the first volunteer for the church committee or that no matter what, you always hit the snooze button one time too many. This leaves a spouse feeling like everyone else matters more when they constantly say yes to others and no to things that strengthen their relationship. It places the financial burden on the partner who always gets up and heads in to work.
- Loneliness: It's easy to substitute things for love when your heart feels empty. If your spouse is too busy with work or is taking classes online, it's easy to fill the void with a little retail therapy. You can stop nagging your partner to pay attention to you, when the store clerks pay attention to you every time to step in the door.
All of those situations lead couples to feeling further apart from each other. When couples come to see me, I work on restoring the connection that's happened between them. When Lauren works with couples who face this challenge, she helps them to see how differences in their upbringing may have contributed to their financial woes.
In Lauren's brand-new book (#aff), The Recovering Spender, she shares her struggle to end a spending habit that put her family in over $40,000 worth of debt as a young wife and mother- and how her disagreements over money helped to save her marriage.
Lauren gets down and dirty and shares her story: using credit cards to buy diapers, hiding her shopping habits from her husband, shoplifting and being caught, getting a bill from the IRS for $17,000, and putting almost $12,000 on her credit card in just one evening.
This definitely isn't your “just do this and you'll be out of debt” guide that just makes you feel even more guilty. Nope.
Lauren's been at the bottom, and she has worked hard to get rid of her debt. She took what she learned to create programs that will help you, from making a month's worth of meals for your family for just $150 to working with families one-on-one, Lauren isn't afraid to share her struggles to help others.
Lauren pulls from her counseling background and breaks things into down simple steps. They help you to pull in the emotional reasons behind your money habits along with giving you the steps to turn everything around. From questions to worksheets, everything you need to live a happy, fulfilled, debt-free life is in The Recovering Spender.
And she even does it with your stress level in mind (you know I love this part). From bite-sized actions to tips that soothe your tension while you're creating budgets and taking a closer look at yourself, reading this book felt like Lauren was right by my side, encouraging and sharing, each step of the way.
One of my favorite tips from Lauren was to pair something peaceful or fun right after you tackle a financial goal. From taking a lavender bath to snuggling up with your favorite cup of tea and a book, plan something relaxing to help release the stress after working on a financial goal.
With the Christmas spending season fast approaching, now is a perfect time to let Lauren keep you from being like Barbie. No more overspending. No more credit card melt-downs. No more secrets, and a lot of success your way!