#378: Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of FamilyLife

#378: Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of FamilyLife

Have you ever noticed that money is a tender spot in a lot of relationships? Maybe it even causes tension for you. In this week’s podcast, Kathi chats with very special guest Ron Deal of FamilyLife about ways to successfully resolve some of the conflicts related to spending and have a stronger, more unified family.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Some key questions to ask when strong emotions come up related to money
  • Contributing factors that make merging finances particularly difficult for blended families
  • How a togetherness agreement can help you build a strong foundation financially and relationally

If you would like more information about how to merge finances well, check out Ron’s book, The Smart Stepfamily Guide to Financial Planning. You can order it on AMAZON now.

In case you missed the verse reference, Ron quoted Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have for He has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

Giveaway

As a special treat we are giving away some copies of Ron’s book, The Smart Stepfamily Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend a Family! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

What would it look like to start spending money with intention instead of emotion in your family? What impact would that have on your relationships?

 

 

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Transcript for Clutter Free Academy #378

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast # 378

Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of Family Life

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. You know, around here, we talk a lot about the devastation of clutter, and the emotional impact. We talk about that almost on a weekly basis. We spend a lot less time on the financial consequences to us and our family. I’ve done something about that. I’ve got us an expert in here. I want to introduce you guys to the director of FamilyLife Blended and the author of the new book The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend a Family.  Ron Deal, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Ron – Thank you, Kathi. It’s so good to be with you.

Kathi – You and I just recently had a little chat about some of the principles about step-family and clutter. It’s so interesting, because so many of the clutter principles are true for step-families and original families. Also, there are some big differences, and I think it’s the same thing with money, as well. Everybody is stressed about money. Here’s my first question: When it comes to blended families, what is most stressful? Is it the exes? Is it discipline of kids? Or is it money? I want to know your opinion. I have an opinion on this, but I would love to hear what you think.

Ron – Okay, well, first of all, yes. You were on my podcast recently, FamilyLife Blended, is the podcast that we do specifically around blended families. Thank you for doing that. I think the answer to your question is: YES. There are things above the surface and things below the surface in our lives, right? You say so eloquently, above the surface is clutter, but below the surface is, “Why are you keeping it? What’s your fear? What’s your pain? What’s the concern? What’s the guilt?” The same thing happens to blended families around money; around relationships. Is it just about the former spouse, or is it about the pain that connects you to that former spouse? Is it about the pain you continue to see in your children’s eyes as a result of a broken relationship? Is it about the heartache, difficulty, or the guilt that you feel over you ending the previous relationship? All of those things below the surface are really, at the end of the day, driving what’s above the surface.

Kathi – It’s so interesting, isn’t it, how entangled all those different things are? I remember the first year we were doing Christmas as a blended family. My husband’s ex called and said, “Well, I need to know what you’re getting the kids for Christmas, so we can avoid getting them the same thing.” It wasn’t until years later, to figure out, “Oh, no no no, that’s a form of control. Why am I resisting this so much? Because I don’t like to be controlled.” It was money issues. It was control issues. It was kid and entitlement issues. All of that. So much of that is the common thread of money. I know that in an intact family, you’re dealing with some of those things, but it just feels like it gets folded out into a million different directions when it’s a blended family. 

Ron – Exactly. I’m thinking of a couple, for example, that I had a conversation with one day, and they were trying to figure out how many pots of money to have in their marriage. He had his kids and his money before they got married and she had hers. There’s a one-pot system, “We all put it in one pot.” There’s a two-pot system, “Yours and mine.” Three-pot, “Yours, mine, ours, but what about our investments?” Well, the conversation went like this. “Ron. We’re married now. We should all have one pot, but my wife is unwilling to put her money into one pot with me. I don’t like that.” So, we start chasing what’s underneath that. What’s that about? And the message to him was, “I must not be very important. She doesn’t value our us-ness; our one-ness the way I want her to; the way I do. So, I’m feeling fragile. I’m feeling vulnerable in this relationship.” Well, to some, that’s never good, but to someone like him, who had already been vulnerable in a previous relationship? He knows what can happen when it all falls apart. Now he has a super-high sensitivity to what this means for his family. It’s not just about money. It is about money, but it is also about everything underneath the money.

Kathi – Money brings out an anxiety and an insecurity. It’s all around that. When I think about clutter, I think, “What you’re buying is clutter. What I’m buying is necessary.” That’s how many people view it. I think that many of us, whether we’re in a marriage, or divorced, or single, or whatever, we’ve seen those past mistakes. We have evidence of those past mistakes all around us. So, here’s my question: When you begin to combine families, and you start to see all the stuff… It’s shocking when you start to bring those families together, and you’re like, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t know we had eight potato mashers.” You start to see some of the patterns. How do we start to have healthy conversations about recovering from those past clutter and financial mistakes?

Ron – One of the things to ask yourself is, when you notice, in yourself, or in your partner, “Wow! Whenever this subject comes up, so does anger, so does heavy emotions, so does a sense of desperation in me.” You’ve got to pause at that moment in time and ask yourself, “What’s going on with me? What is underneath all this?” It’s no longer about stuff. It’s about what it means to me and the implications it has to our family-ness, on our relationships, on our blending process. So, pausing at that point in time and going inside yourself and saying, “Lord, help me. Give me some insight into what this is about.” Throughout scripture, whenever God speaks to us about money, He always attaches a “for I am with you” because of that insecurity thing you were talking about a little while ago. Really, we think that money is what’s going to bring us stability in life, and it’s the calming piece of life, but God’s always saying, “No no no. That’s my job. I am with you. I am the one that provides. You’re going to be okay because of My presence in your life.” It we don’t go inside and ask ourselves, “What’s going on with me?” then we’ll just keep getting angry, and not have any reason or understanding why. 

Kathi – This is so good, Ron. I had never made the correlation between the verses about money, and God being with you. I feel like, except for if someone attacks my parenting, questioning how I spend money is my quickest line between peace and anxiety. Zero to sixty so much faster than anything else in my life. God knew, from the beginning of time, that we were going to struggle with money and stuff. The verses about “What are we investing in? What are we putting our time in? What are we putting our money in?” are just throughout the entire Word. So, to see the correlation, to say, “God knew this was going to be anxiety-producing. God knew that this was going to be a soft spot. Not just in marriages, but in parent-child relationships, in ex relationships, in all of those things.” This gives me such a different approach, Ron. I’m thinking in my own life. Roger and I have something we’ve set up. We call it “Money & Munchies Mondays”. We have to trick ourselves into doing finances. We have to give ourselves a reward. So, we order food in, we sit down, but I’m going to be honest, I had not thought about praying before talking about finances. When God says, “I am with you!” I need to invite him into that conversation. 

Ron – Absolutely. Hebrews 13:5 says it really well. “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” In other words, the reason we clutter our lives with stuff; the reason we use our money to buy other things; the reason we rely on money for security is kind of the same thing. The clutter, and the buying, and the purchasing, and the reason we work so hard in Blended Families, for example, to make our relationship work, is at the end of the day, we’re feeling like, “I can provide all of this for myself. I can be self-sufficient. The money empowers me to have what I want and it gets rid of my anxiety. It gets rid of my concern, or my fear, or my pain.” No, it really doesn’t. It’s a quick fix. It lasts as long as a Snickers. You’re going to get hungry again. What really lasts is leaning into God’s presence in our lives. I’m not saying we don’t have legitimate concerns about money. There’s good questions to ask, and wise decisions to make, absolutely. All of that above-the-surface stuff has to happen, too. But if we don’t go below the surface, and ask ourselves, “Why am I leaning in to this so much? What if I leaned in to God and His presence in my life a little more? How can I change my heart and my attitude about my money; about what I spend; about our relationship?

Kathi – Here’s what I think happened with me and Roger. Both of us will admit, we are not financial geniuses. We’re very fortunate. Roger has a Silicon Valley income, but we also have a Silicon Valley mortgage.

Ron – They cancel each other out.

Kathi – I think part of us were like, “We are spending so much time, and energy, and resources just keeping this family from killing each other. Money was just another stress that we could avoid for a while. So, how do we build in wisdom when it comes to money? There is going to be stuff coming into your house. There are purchases that need to be made. As a couple, we probably have a history of coming to those decisions in different ways. How do we build together, as a couple, in wisdom, so maybe money isn’t something we’re really excited about, but it’s not tearing a hole in our marriage every time we sit down to talk about it?

Ron – It starts with values. We’ve already moved in that direction. What I want to add there, is: “What does that thing mean? This purchase; this object; this decision, what does it mean to us in terms of our over-all life?” If I can be honest, a lot of times I buy things because it’s going to make me feel good. Or, I buy something because I think it’ll make me look good to others. What I’m really chasing here is other people’s approval of me. “Wow. So, maybe I don’t need that dress; that outfit; that suit; that whatever just to win other people’s approval. That seems like I’m worshiping the approval of men, not so much God’s approval.” So, my values need a course correction.

Kathi – Let me ask you: Do you think blended families work harder to look okay to the rest of the world? I feel like that’s what we did for a while.

Ron – I do think there is a pressure there, especially within the church community. That’s where we do so much of our work. Helping churches understand how they can be helpful. They don’t realize how much pressure they put on blended families to be like everyone else. It’s not intentional, but it happens. I do think there’s another dynamic in blended families around money, and that’s “I feel guilty around what’s happened in my kids’ lives; what I can’t change; what I can’t make right and somehow this is the quick fix that helps them feel better, and that helps me feel better.” 

Kathi – Here’s the other thing: When I married Roger, I went from two kids to four. That, financially, was a hard thing. The world is not built for families of six. When you want to go rent a car; when you go get a hotel room. It’s not just college times four, it’s shoes times four. It’s soccer times four. It’s all of those things.

Ron – And parents are diluting their money, too. You have another household you have to spend money on, child-support. Sometimes it’s coming in. Sometimes it’s going out. There are a number of factors that do add pressures to blended families that first families don’t experience. 

Kathi – Most of the people who are listening, we would love to have been those people who sat down before we got married and said, “Let’s have an honest conversation about money,” but 95% of us didn’t do that. We thought that once we got married and we love each other, everything will work out. I admit to being that couple. I love that we’ve outlined some of these things that we feel. It’s a lot like clutter, the fear, guilt, and shame. Fear, “What if I’m not doing a good job parenting?” Guilt for past mistakes we’ve made. Shame about not being that ideal family that many in the church still judge as a second-tier family. I love your idea of getting on the same page with your goals and what are your values. Do you suggest physically sitting down and writing those out? How’s the way to communicate those inside of a family?

Ron – So, the book actually guides people in creating what we call a Togetherness Agreement. The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning is, you start by sitting down and creating this Togetherness Agreement. Totally the opposite of what a pre-nup is all about. A pre-nup is all about “What happens if it all comes apart?” The Togetherness Agreement is all about “How are we going to bring it together? Not only our money issues, or matters, but our relationships.” So, it’s all tied together. We try to walk people through this process of looking at the different elements, the different pieces. How do you plan for the now? How do you plan for the future? Children? How do you care for one another? I got to tell you, I’m not a financial planner (I teamed up with two guys that do this kind of thing on a regular basis) I’m a marriage and family educator and therapist. So, I’m always looking at the relational components, but I learned a ton` doing the research for this book, around the different financial tools that are available out there, that I didn’t know anything about, that I think the average blended family couple knows nothing about as well. There are tools to help you plan your estate, to care for your kids, to care for your step-children, care for your spouse. What if you die and your spouse marries again? If you don’t provide, in writing, some of your assets can end up going, not just going with your former spouse, but their new spouse’s kids. 

Kathi – I’ve seen that happen.

Ron – You can prevent all that. That’s the beautiful thing. It does take some time. It takes some effort. Sometimes people will go beyond the book and decide to consult with a financial planner who can actually make something legal; who can put it in official document form. All of that is really helpful, because at the end of the day, you have more confidence in how you love one another. You have more stability, in the sense of, “Yes, we have taken steps to provide, should the worst thing happen. The kids are provided for. We don’t have to live with this sense of, ‘oh, this will all work out’.” The laws in America, because of how they’re written around parent-child relationships, tend to work against step-families, in court. If you ever have a state-thing go to court, it tends to work against what you really want to have happen. But, if you put it in writing, it’s all cared for. Confidence goes up. Stability comes together.

Kathi – If feels like everybody is on the same page. 

Ron – Which is the relational confidence peace you want.

Kathi – Ron, I love this so much. I think that, for any of us that have complicated family situations, the tools that are provided in this book are excellent. I’m really going to encourage you, whether you’re a blended family, or you know a blended family. Trust me. If you’re not sure whether this is an issue in your friend’s blended family? I promise you, it is. To give somebody the resources is so amazing. We’ve got a couple of books to give away. I’m really excited. So guys, here’s what I want to hear from you. I want to hear from you, in the comments on the podcast page, what would it look like to start spending money with intention, instead of emotion, in your family? What impact would that have on your relationships? Okay, you guys, I’m so excited about this book. The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend A Family.  Ron, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Ron – Thanks, Kathi. It’s an honor to be with you.

Kathi – And friends, thank you for joining us. You make this my favorite part of our ministry, being able to talk with you on Clutter Free Academy.  Please join us next week. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the Clutter Free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Ron Deal

Ron Deal

Ron Deal is husband to Nan (since 1986) and proud father of Braden, Connor, and Brennan. Everything else is just details.

Ron L. Deal is a bestselling author, licensed marriage & family therapist, podcaster, and popular conference speaker who conducts “laugh and learn” marriage and family seminars and professional training around the country. He specializes in both marriage enrichment and stepfamily education. Frequently featured in the national media, Ron is a leading national expert and the most widely read and viewed author on blended families in the country. He serves as President of Smart Stepfamilies™ and Director of FamilyLife Blended®, a division of FamilyLife®.

Learn more at www.familylife.com.

 

333 Find Your Money and Lose Your Clutter – Deborah Smith Pegues

333 Find Your Money and Lose Your Clutter – Deborah Smith Pegues

On today’s episode, Kathi chats with Deborah Smith Pegues, author of The One-Minute Money Mentor for Women. Kathi and Deborah discuss the importance of women being financially literate. And Deborah shares practical tips for women who might feel overwhelmed by money issues.

On today’s informative show you’ll learn:

  • Why people who struggle with clutter often also struggle with money
  • What to do if you’ve been ignoring money and find yourself in a tough place
  • Deborah’s biggest money tip for the Christmas holiday

Enter to Win!

Grand prize- Win $50 in cash to go towards an outstanding bill, plus Deborah’s book The One-Minute Money Mentor for Women!  

Plus, FIVE lucky runner-ups will win a copy of The One-Minute Money Mentor for Women!

 

Enter by answering in the comments:

 “Share your best tip for getting out of debt?” 

*US residents only

 

 

Buy the book here.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:
• Leave a note in the comment section below.
• Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:
• Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
• Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.

Meet Our Guest

Deborah Smith Pegues

Deborah Smith Pegues

Deborah Smith Pegues is a certified public accountant, behavioral consultant, TV host, and global speaker with an MBA in finance. She has written seventeen transformational books, including the bestselling 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue (over one million sold worldwide) and Emergency Prayers. She and her husband, Darnell, have been married nearly 40 years. Learn more

When Cheap Costs

When Cheap Costs

Cheap Costs

My friend Kevin’s mom was famous for explaining away any purchase she wanted to make by saying, “But, it on SALEEEEEE…”

For most of my life, I was just like Kevin’s mom. If there was a deal to be had, that was all the justification I needed to make the purchase.

Cheap goods are never without a cost.

As I’ve gone deeper into my Clutter Free life, I’ve come to understand a core truth: Cheap goods are never without a cost.

1. Cheap goods cost us space.

Cheap goods we don’t need but justify because they are on sale (or already cheap), take up room in our houses. We need a way to store these things on top of the other things we’re already keeping.

2. Cheap goods cost us time.

If clutter is a problem, then the minutes every day you spend looking for lost items, moving stacks, and dealing with clutter are slowly chipping away at your life.

3. Cheap goods cost us money.

A dollar here and there adds up. I’ve noticed a correlation between those who struggle with clutter and those who struggle with spending. We stockpile things we think we’ll need in the future, while not stockpiling what we will really need—money.

4. Cheap goods cost us our integrity.

Many of those cheap goods are produced on the backs of others—slave and child labor in foreign countries. Since I’ve stopped buying lots of clothes (I’ve bought five items in 2017,) I’ve been able to buy better quality items I know aren’t made with slave or child labor. As a practicing Christian, I need to be aware that I may have slaves working for me, even if they are half a world away. What is my moral obligation?

As I go deeper into my Clutter Free journey, these are the things I need to consider.

I’m not saying that bargain shopping is bad. Quite the opposite. The biggest bargain is not buying things you don’t need.

Break the Cheap Goods Habit

So if you’ve developed an addiction to cheap goods, how do you go about breaking it?

1. Shop with a list.

Always know what you’re going into the store for, and come out with just that. When Roger and I go shopping at Costco, we have a massive list. (We only go once a month and buy most of our food there.) At Costco, we do allow ourselves one indulgence, usually through the samples that are pushed like drug dealers.This month it was the prepared chicken salad. Oy. Vey.

The list rule applies for Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, or any other store we might be tempted. Bring a list. Stick to the list.

2.Stay Accountable.

If you know you struggle with sticking to your needs, ask a friend (or the Clutter Free group) to keep you accountable. It’s so much easier to resist temptation if you know someone is going to be checking up on you.

3. Budget.

If you’re saving up for something bigger and better, it’s easier to say no to the nonsense. We use the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app and love it. We remind ourselves that we can have anything we want, as long as we budget for it.

4. Realize it’s OK to have nice things.

We didn’t bring home any souvenirs from our recent vacation except books, a nice shirt for Roger, and one thing for me. In a little shop in Victoria, there was a woman selling handmade soaps. I found an orange and ginger soap that smelled like heaven. I fell in love.

Normally, I’m a basic soap girl. We have a large container of Soft Soap that we use to refill all the soap dispensers in the house. Cheap and easy. But I realized a few things:

*I loved this soap and would enjoy it while it lasted.
*I was supporting another woman’s livelihood.
*It isn’t clutter. When it’s used, it’s gone.

I bought the soap.

I love the soap. Guess what, I use the soap. And I don’t feel guilty about the price tag because that little piece of soap lines up with my Clutter Free values. And that? Is worth every penny.

How Our Family Ebenezer Helped Us Through a Season of Financial Stress

How Our Family Ebenezer Helped Us Through a Season of Financial Stress

by Amberly Neese

Money stinks.

Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the freedoms and opportunities money can afford, but the lack of it is draining.

My husband and I have been in full-time ministry for most of our lives. Budgeting has been a necessary reality since the beginning of our union. Dental bills, unexpected car repairs, medical issues, and the cost of everyday life created stress for us in various seasons but nothing could have prepared us for nine months of unemployment.

The cost of unemployment

We had just moved so I could accept my dream job at a Christian camp in the mountains of Arizona. I left teaching, took a pay cut, and trusted God’s call. Everything was awesome until my husband started looking for a job. He has a Master’s Degree from USC (on a full ride), decades of experience, and, frankly, he is a good guy. Nothing. No one seemed to have a need for that which he had to offer. It was arduous.

The tension in our home with our teenagers and between my husband and I became palpable. An increase in raised voices and shed tears precipitated a change. That change came in the form of a trip to the dollar store (God bless the dollar store).

We bought polished rocks, a candle, and a Sharpie. I pulled out an old glass hurricane lamp and charger plate from the garage and got to work. I put the candle in the middle of the charger plate, placed the hurricane over the candle and spread the rocks all around the outside of the glass. Then I called a family meeting where I told everyone anytime we felt overwhelmed or frustrated, we needed to contribute to our family’s ebenezer.

A family ebenezer

Ebenezer is more than the name of the lead character in that old Christmas story. It comes from the name of a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate a victory over the Philistines at Mizpeh (I Sam.12). The word itself comes from the Hebrew (ebhen “stone” + ezer “help”). God often asked His people to remember His goodness by building an ebenezer to remember His faithfulness. God didn’t do it to feed His ego, but instead, He knew we’d need the reminders.

We have very short memories in times of trouble!

Each person in my family was given a few rocks and asked to write something God had done to show His love in the past week. We used the permanent marker to scribble our ideas on the rocks. Anytime we saw the hand of God provide for our family, we wrote on a rock and placed it on the inside of the hurricane glass.

They served as our reminders

By the end of the unemployment drought, we had gone back to the dollar store three times to buy more rocks. Even on days when our financial situation looked bleak, it was very difficult to feel sorry for ourselves. Written on every rock we saw His faithfulness evidenced on a daily basis through others, circumstances, and His church. The arguments dissipated and the joy quotient vastly increased.

Someday when my kids leave the house to start families of their own, the first thing I will send with them is the makings of an ebenezer. I pray when they face the tumult of difficulty, such a visual reminder will commemorate God’s faithfulness, and the “joy of the Lord (will be their) strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

One Small Win: As we built an ebenezer, He built in us a solid trust in His provision. When we removed some of the rocks, we were reminded of all that had happened. We were flabbergasted at the creative ways God provided for our family.


Amberly Neesefamily ebenezer is a national speaker, author, and humorist with a passion for pointing others to the joy found in Christ. She has won hearts (and funny bones) of people all over the country at hundreds of conventions, camps, seminars, retreats, and chapels. She also serves as the program director at UCYC and an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University. Amberly received her Master’s degree from Biola University.

Amberly has been married to Scott Neese since 1992. They have two kids, Judah and Josiah. They live in beautiful Prescott, AZ and love the Food Network and all things Star Wars. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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