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  • Writer's pictureRyan Jones

Boundaries: Do you say “no” enough?

In their book, Boundaries, specialists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend state, "The problem of our financial outgo exceeding our input is a self-boundary issue. When we have difficulty saying no to spending more than we should, we run the risk of becoming someone else’s servant.”

As a financial coach, I devote a lot of my time to assisting people with their spending issues. Boundaries are truly at the top of the list of personal finance problems. Clients either lack boundaries or carry guilt that can come from holding the line. It's clear that money has a way of creeping into our relationships.

Now, you might be saying, "Financial coaching is just math and numbers, right?" Well, that truly is a major misconception of what I do. Dave Ramsey, the radio financial guru, has long claimed that behavior accounts for 80% of personal finance. Thus, focusing only on the 20% of money knowledge, my clients will miss the real added value of working with a financial coach.

Let me share some of these boundary situations that I’ve seen.

  • Your shopping partner is always up for a trip to the mall or "That looks great on you; you should buy it."

  • "Let's go out Friday night," which leads to more activities on Saturday and, most likely, another night out on Saturday or Sunday. You all want to keep the party going through the weekend.

  • Friendships where the life blood of the relationship is gift giving.

  • A relationship where the wealth of both parties is significantly different. Typically, this presents itself in my love-hate relationship with the adage "keeping up with the Joneses,” or what I like to say, “keeping up with my friends.”

For that last bullet, there is a great example in a TV show called "The Middle," which we watch as a family. In one season, when one of the characters, Sue, from a middle-to low-income family, gets a college roommate who comes from wealth, the boundaries fail when the roommate is buying things for the dorm room and just assuming Sue will pay half. Sue burns through all her savings in the first few weeks of school and reaches a point of extreme stress. Add the fact that she truly has no more money, and she is forced to finally set a boundary. Guess what happens to the relationship? Nothing. Because they understand each other’s situation better, the relationship becomes stronger.

Do these examples hit close to home?

Do you have other spending challenges caused by a boundary issue with a spouse, friend, child, parent, sibling, or worse yet, with yourself?

If so, do yourself a financial favor and exercise the power of no. I'm here to guide you if you need a coach. Just reach out.


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