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How'd we do in February?

March 4th, 2009 at 01:33 pm

These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less.

4 Responses to “How'd we do in February?”

  1. Amber Says:

    Way to go on sticking with a plan. I have never heard of "Outliers" sounds interesting

  2. momcents Says:


    Well, it sounds like Mr H is coming along and making some progress. He is at least aware, but has you to figure it out?

    DH is participating in a program at school/church called "All Pro Dad" in order to have healthy relationships with pre-teen kids. One of the perks of this is daily emails with open-ended questions. DH forwarded me this one:

    "Dave Ramsey suggests the first step to a healthy financial plan is to save $1K for emergencies, and then eliminate debt. Huddle with DW and ask when you want to start the EF and what date do want to be out of debt by."

    He at least put a HA HA HA in his email and said "PS I am sure you already know the answers to these questions. What are they?"

    He isn't ready to embrace the full livelihood of money matters, apparently; and sees it as humorous.

  3. Petunia Says:

    Momcents, I laughed out loud at your DH's response. I think I've had similar conversations with Mr H.

  4. baselle Says:

    What you say in a couple of weeks: Bummer about checkbook two. What's your plan?

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