Truth about financial boundaries that you need to know
“If you really loved me, you would buy it for me.”
“You need to think about others other than yourself for once.”
“You know that if I had the money, I would give it to you.”
“Please loan me the cash for the last time.”
“This is the last one left; take it at half price.”
Are such comments familiar?
Putting yourself first is necessary
You need to take care of yourself first because you cannot pour from an empty cup.
One of the common place safety announcements before any takeoff is usually to make sure that your own mask is on first before attempting to help others. This is the same applicable principle to life. You must help yourself first to be in a position to help others in the most effective manner.
Without boundaries, you forget to take care of yourself yet you have control and are responsible for your life.
A boundary defines who you are, where you end and where others begin. When you know what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’, what you are for and against and what you want and do not want, you are setting boundaries. You should be able to make decisions around your money and stick with them.
MARY AND MOSES – But I’m your little sister?
Moses visits his mom who lives with his sister every weekend. He is older than his sister by 10 years. Mary just got enrolled into college and Moses has been a banker for three years now. Moses has always been protective of his sister and the two are so fond of each other. He chips in settling his sister’s fees and takes care of her upkeep. Having recently been promoted, he got a little pay rise and thereby considers enrolling for his Masters.
They have this conversation as Mary escorts him to the bus stop one Sunday evening.
Mary: I hope you haven’t forgotten that the semester is about to end. We need to place deposit with the hostels well in advance to secure my space for the upcoming semester.
Moses: I mentioned that this may not be possible this time since my increment wasn’t so good. I barely have enough to pay my own fees. I need to save for the next two months to qualify for the next intake. Please let’s revisit the issue next year. Besides, mom could use your company.
Mary: But you promised! All my friends stay in the hostels. I am the only one that commutes from home. Since you moved out of home and got that fancy job, you no longer care about me.
(Moses started to feel guilty. He began to recount the subtle remarks her sister would make comparing her life now and what it would have been ‘had dad been around.’ She would talk about how wonderful their dad was and how well he’d treat her.)
Moses: That’s not true (hugs her), I’ll see what to do.
Does this sound familiar?
Moses certainly has boundary issues. When one feels guilty for being different from what others want them to be or do, that’s a sign of boundary problems. Being different does not mean that you are a bad person. Without boundaries, you risk seeking approval and even getting angry at yourself for the decisions that you make.
Enabling negative behavior can have a severe impact on your finances. Mothers are among the biggest enablers. Many of them excuse the unacceptable behavior of their children, especially their adult sons. Some ‘beneficiaries’ if prompted could confess that they would have been much further along financially had they not been ‘spoilt’ by their enablers. They could pass blame on their irresponsibility to them. This is not to say that one shouldn’t help their responsible son or daughter when they are in need. When people enable their children, spouses or anyone else to remain irresponsible by always bailing them out, they interrupt their planning and jeopardize their own financial security. Maturity occurs when people learn their lessons through experience.
If your finances have been affected by your own enabling, you need to have the heart to stop it today! This is real love. Say no to all requests from irresponsible people in your life especially from family members who always need ‘some money to meet some urgent need’.
A few years ago, I sat down with a very close relative who was in a dire financial state. While I was sympathetic of her plight, even to a point of wanting to bail her out, I decided she needed to learn the discipline of taking control of her money. I recall that I cringed in learning that she had maxed out her credit card and on it had accrued crazy interest for continued non-payment. We worked out a payment plan that she committed to following. I thoroughly kept her accountable over the next few months. Three years later, she now is on stable financial footing.
See? Stop enabling irresponsibility.
Know what you want to be then set standards of who you really are. Define your terms and conditions for which your life should be lived, your irreducible minimums. When you know your boundaries, you eliminate people, things and activities that don’t matter. The following tips should be helpful:
- Draw boundaries and set your limits and goals
- Communicate clearly to those whom boundaries are bound to affect. Be direct without beating about the bush.
- If people still repeatedly do things that offend you then you haven’t yet communicated your boundaries clearly. Be assertive and keep reminding them.
- Tune to your feelings – if someone is doing something that makes you uncomfortable it is a cue to broken boundaries. Don’t ignore it, deal with it.
- Make self-care a priority – put yourself first. Especially this!
You will appreciate that having boundaries in place will help you navigate through your life and your relationship with others. If you set aside money for a specific purpose, (e.g. for emotional, emergency or long-term spending), let no one randomly thwart your plans. Say no to this ‘urgent’ need then create a savings plan for it if it is important to you else all the planning and saving that you have been doing and will be doing is a waste of time.
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