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Financial Boundaries

I’ve been noticing a lot of talk about respecting boundaries lately. We hear how important it is to set good boundaries all the time. That can’t be reiterated enough if you’re recovering from financial abuse. It’s imperative to learn to set good boundaries even though most abusers will ignore them.

Ignoring boundaries is what I want to talk about. Or, to put it in a more positive light, let’s talk about respecting boundaries.

You can set boundaries all day long, but getting other people to respect them is not something we have much control over.  

But what about respecting your own financial boundaries? 

Telling yourself that you’re not going to go on a spending splurge and then doing that is crossing your own boundary, as well as losing financial discipline.  But, wow, let’s be nice to ourselves, right?

Sure, we all lose control from time to time, whether it’s spending too much money or drinking too much. 

Financial Boundaries
Financial Boundaries
The real question is how can we do our best and still have grace when we let ourselves down?

First, remember, recovering from financial abuse is a process. You don’t wake up one day and say, “I’m financially savvy today and I always will be.” I wish.  Like any journey in life, it’s full of twists and turns and backslides. That’s okay. It’s acknowledging that part of the process is making mistakes and maybe those mistakes mean we’ve crossed our own financial boundaries.

Second, be clear on what your financial boundaries are with yourself and with others. If you are still entangled with your ex due to shared finances (child support, spousal support, etc.) then it’s important to set strong boundaries and stick by them. If child support is due on the 1st of every month, make sure you don’t get in the habit of letting him slide on paying until the 3rd. Once that boundary is crossed (and financially abusive ex’s are notorious for pushing your boundaries), it’s a slippery slope. Soon you may be fighting to get the payment by the 15th.

Next, you should also respect other people’s boundaries. Learning to read other people’s boundaries is a sign of emotional intelligence. When someone says, no, they won’t lend you money, do you pout or push them harder? They have their reasons, and honoring their boundaries will show that you are invested in their well being as well as your own.  

It may not feel like it, but when someone says no to you, they are doing you a favor. Part of recovery is figuring out how to do it on your own. Not borrowing money from others or asking for handouts. Their “no” doesn’t mean you don’t need or deserve assistance; it means they are not the right resource for you.  

Asking friends and family to support you as you recover seems like a normal, within-the-bounds request, however, it may not be feasible or wise for them. Don’t assume you know their financial situation. 

Financial Boundaries
Financial Boundaries
There are other resources available if you really need them. Respecting the boundary set will help honor the relationship. It shows your maturity.  

Recovering from financial abuse is a journey. That means you will learn and grow as you navigate to a better financial reality. It doesn’t mean you will get everything you want from everyone you ask, whether that is your ex or your friends. Being clear on what your boundaries are and not letting others push past them is uber important.  

Learning to honor your own boundaries as well as others’ is a sign of respect. Being financially savvy means knowing where your own boundaries are and making sure to hold them with yourself. It also means acknowledging the boundaries others set with grace and maturity.  

Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (, a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at Join our FB group

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