Thursday, January 5, 2012

Googling Marriage: Money Stress Combat 101

I spent the better part of a decade completely wound up about money. My husband is in school, living in a lab trying to finally get done with ten years of life in higher education and get on with life. I am a control freak who uses focusing on minutiae to avoid internal issues. It's not a good combination when dealing with finances.

Our communication issues didn't help. I would obsess about finding money to get from debt A to debt B and he would turn to worrying about future expenses. I would resent him and block him out.  He would feel left out in the cold.  So, of course, eventually everything blew up in our faces.  And I'm glad. He began to look for solutions for future debt resolution and I quit caring about what happened to money when I needed to work on the multitude of problems I'd been avoiding with the obsessing. We began to communicate. And we came up with a neat trick to cover each other's asses.

Both of us use Google products. We have several blog sites, email addresses, etc. A while back, the husband's lab started using Google Calendar to coordinate their projects. He suggested I add on to it so that we can both see each other's schedules. His work needs, my gigs, what have you. His schedule is in blue, mine is in red. It is free.

I began to write down gig payments in detail and keep my book on my calendar. That way when tax season rolls around, I could get a better look at my expenses. There are options to look at the calendar weekly, monthly, etc. so I could look at the whole picture or concentrate on a smaller amount of time. Also, there is a section on the event that you can put notes on. So, if I did a show, I could put down who for, location, payment type, etc. We decided to take this a step further.

I have been the keeper of the bills for the duration of our marriage. If something needed to be paid that he had the most access to, I would tell him the day of to do it. This probably lead to a little resentment because I felt like I was doing all of the thinking, having to remind him of everything sometimes multiple times because it was not in front  of him. And he felt like he couldn't tread into my control freak turf without angst.  Now, I put it on the schedule, marking the day we should pay it, the day it is due and whoever pays it marks it as done.  I can alert him of our money...or lack there of...situation in the bank account and what I've paid on the calendar. Every day we update it and check it.

Lately, I've been keeping my money stress isolated to the calendar. Say the bank account is low in funds? I don't need to bother him at work. I just write what is in there, what has been written against and the end results. He's a smart man, a scientist. He can figure out why pulling out 50 dollars when you only have 40 is a bad idea. And if it falls through? We miss something? Oh well. Two of us did it together. It's not just my problem...not that it ever really was....anymore.

Also, I used to be adamant about protecting my performing stand up schedule and he would have a hard time figuring out his own evening life around it. Part of the problem was that it as often short notice and I had planned my set, my travel, whatever else around the event and part of the problem is he didn't feel allowed to work around it, assume that it was a done deal without finding alternative solutions.

We have recently shifted to include his needs more and by marking everything on the calendar, he can see what the conflicts are...and I've dumped the ones that aren't necessary to manage the family better...and if we want to do something at the same time we usually have some time to figure out how to address child care issues, appointment bookings, and  how to coordinate potential conflicts down the road.

At first, I was a little skeptical about this new system flying. Letting control go really kills your inner self martyr.  This whole I do all of the thinking thing that I had going on took a boot to the proverbial crotch. But we both read the calendar daily. We both deal with what's on there. We both note when the deeds that need to be done are finalized. Gigs, doctors appointments, all potential conflict are put in as soon as it is possible so that when something comes up we can communicate and deal with solutions. And we haven't forgotten a thing so far.

Bills aren't just my soul problem in  my head anymore. He is getting more freedom to go do things that he likes without a backlash from my schedule conflicts. I have to say, it really has made a difference. And it didn't cost us a thing. Got to love that Google.

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