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How Mr Spreadsheet rocked my world, in more ways than one

How Mr Spreadsheet rocked my world, in more ways than one

Being good with numbers can help to bring a healthy balance to a marriage.

He had goals and investments, a brand-new car, and he didn’t spend money without thinking about it. When he showed me his spreadsheet, I was blown away.

Hello. I’m Rochelle, and I’ve always been someone who lives in the moment. I blame this on my upbringing in a religious cult, where we were taught to live as if there is no tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I took this lesson to heart in my 20s and 30s, spending all my hard-earned money on myself without investing or saving for retirement. You only live once, right?

When I met Mr Spreadsheet, my current and only husband, he rocked my world. Yes, in that way too, but for the purposes of this piece, we’re talking about my financial world.

This guy’s approach to his finances were light years ahead. He had goals and investments, a brand-new car that was financed, and he didn’t spend money without thinking about it. The first time he showed me his spreadsheet, I was blown away.

In my world, the word “budget” only featured in February, when the Minister of Finance did his speech, and I would check to see how the price of my cigarettes and wine would be affected.

As my relationship with Mr Spreadsheet grew, there were many moments of friction, screaming, and name-calling. He would let me rant and rage, while he stuck to his spreadsheet.

He wanted me to be open and honest about my finances, which were a tightly guarded secret, like my weight and the size of my broeks.

You don’t just share these with a boyfriend! But I realised that if I wanted to be with Mr Spreadsheet, I was going to have to be open about my debt.

I was going to have to put it in a spreadsheet to see exactly how I burn through my income.

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the next step was to create a budget. That was even more painful.

I would have rather tattooed my weight on my forehead, than write down my spending habits.

Mr Spreadsheet was shaken when I presented him with my in and out columns. I’ve only seen the blood drain from his face that quickly when the Bokke or Proteas snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

He was going to have to learn to be a bit more flexible if we were to work together.

We were on opposite ends of the financial responsibility axis, but if he was going to remain my current and only husband, he was going to have to meet me somewhere close to halfway.

Then Mr Spreadsheet was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease, and I had to do some lightning-fast growing up.

He had always talked about planning for small and big emergencies. I had dismissed him as being too cautious. I counted on having small emergencies, always.

Then when the mother of all emergencies happened, we had to make uncomfortable decisions, which included a drastic downscale. Nothing makes you grow up as fast as a medical emergency.

Even worse is a medical emergency involving a rare disease with no known cure, and prohibitively expensive treatments only available in the USA and Europe.

Medical co-payments threaten to engulf us all the time, but I’ve been doing great at this “open communication about finances” thing.

We are debt-free now. Mr Spreadsheet tracks expenses and reminds me when my side of the sheet is sparsely populated.

By working together as a couple, we’ve been able to meet each other halfway, and sometimes all the way to the other side.

I would like to think that my feelings about Mr Spreadsheet helped us find a good financial balance in our relationship.

Even though we might not reap the rewards in our lifetime, our son will benefit from the strong sustainable financial future we’re trying to create for him.

Rochelle Barrish

Change expert, Rochelle Barrish, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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