We’ve been covering various aspects of boundaries and how it affects our money and relationships. This time I’d like to talk directly about boundaries with our money. We need to have good boundaries in our relationship with money.
We can have unhealthy boundaries with our money. Money can become too important to us. Or money can be used assuage guilt. We can be holding onto it too tightly or too loosely. We have to learn to have appropriate boundaries with our money so that it has its proper place in our lives.
When we have boundaries that are too rigid, money has too high a place in our lives. Perhaps we have an all consuming focus on money. We watch the stock market several times an hour. We place all our security in our money, and we spend most of effort trying to acquire more.
When we live like this, we don’t have money. Instead money has us.
When we have boundaries that are too loose, money becomes a tool to remove guilt. When we live this way, we believe that it’s selfish to have money or that we’re being disobedient if we have money. So, we give money as often as we can, and many times, more often than we should.
Whenever a need arises, we’re there giving away our money. We’ll even give away our rent or mortgage money just because someone else expressed a need.
One of the problems with this is that we never know when we’ve given enough. How much is enough to satisfy our guilt? If our house is foreclosed on because we gave when we didn’t really have the money, is this enough? You see, the guilt never goes away by giving more.
In the process we hurt ourselves and our ability to be generous with money in the future.
Having boundaries that are just right means that we think of money as a tool. We are aware that we can fall into a pattern of greed and selfishness if we’re not careful. And we are aware that we need to care for our own needs before we care for the needs of others.
Keep in mind that most of us already have way more than we need. Owning a flatscreen TV isn’t a need – it’s a want. So waiting to get that flatscreen for a few months because we’re giving to a good cause is very reasonable.
Here are a couple tips for getting boundaries with your money in that just-right zone:
1. Give money regularly
It’s so easy to get upside-down on our boundaries with money. One of the ways to avoid this is be generous. When we give money, we loosen our grip on money, and it loosens it’s grip on us.
2. Prioritize spending
Many times we see people spending with backwards priorities. They’ll pay thousands on the credit card bills while their house is being foreclosed on. Instead make sure you take care of necessities first. Necessities are: food, shelter, clothing, and transportation.
With your shelter, pay your utility bills such as electricity, water, trash service. For some of us this includes internet. But this does not include cable or satellite TV. For transportation, we need to get from here to there. This might mean we’ve got a good pair of sneakers and bus money.
Take care of yourself first before you give to other needs. Otherwise, you’re just trading one charity case for another.
Now it’s your turn. What’s the best way to give?