When Brett and I talk about things like travel plans or our finances, we approach the task from very different places. Brett has a very right-brain, visual way of seeing things. That is, he learns, understands and/or retains thing when he can see them, and does even better when they’re not just words or numbers on a page but arranged in a meaningful and engaging way. He’s also a vertical thinker, and deals best with one task at a time. These traits were a good match for his professional duties of writer and illustrator, but not so good when we need to talk about financial stuff or we’re planning something.
On the other hand, I am a very left-brain, analytical thinker and do best when I hear things laid out or see items written succinctly on a page. I am also a horizontal thinker, meaning I can be working on and/or juggling many duties at the same time and keep everything up in the air, which is the reason I take care of tasks like budgeting, travel planning, shopping lists and menu planning. Brett says that whenever I try to talk about these things with him I am “talking in spreadsheets,” and that he quickly loses where I’m at or what I’m talking about because he’s not able to visualize it.
One year, when the amount of a bonus he would receive was revealed, and after I realized there would be enough for both Christmas presents, debt repayment, and savings, I sat down and went over our current financial plan and thought about whether there was a better or faster way we could pay down our debt and save for a future vacation. After crunching the numbers for a couple of days I came up with what I thought might be the best way to accomplish both goals. I tried to talk about my idea with Brett but all I got back was “you’re talking in spreadsheets again.”
So, I made a coffee date and put together a sheet for him outlining the debt repayment path we were currently on along with a second way I thought might work better and help us accomplish our financial goals more quickly. I used colors, an interesting font, and different sizes of print to hopefully make the information more interesting for him to look at and easier to remember. I purposely didn’t mention that I was doing this until we were at the coffee shop and had time to sit together and go over everything.
It’s always been a boost for both of us to find out we’re on the same page, whether that’s our finances, our dreams, or things we need to accomplish, even if we do approach those things differently. As we went over the information I had put together on that sheet in more detail Brett took notes and offered ideas or asked for more explanation. As usual, we eventually came together on what we wanted to accomplish even if we approached the process for getting there in different ways.
Creating a visually appealing and easy-to-follow outline still helps me explain my thinking more clearly to Brett, as well as keeps us on the same page with our finances and goals and how we plan to get there. I still tend toward “talking in spreadsheets” when I get excited about an idea, but am better these days about getting things written down for Brett to let him know what I’m thinking about, and to get feedback and input from him.
Once a plan gets put into action though, it’s passed over to Brett. He’s our logistical wizard. He loves keeping daily figures and tracking how we’re doing, something that’s can be excruciatingly boring for me, and he makes sure we meet our deadlines. We make a good team, and we’re glad to have figured out a great way to stay on the same page to reach our goals.