Personal Finance column: Get rid of the “s word”
We all know the basics of financial health, no matter what your level of wealth is.
• We should save for the future.
• We should spend less than we bring in.
• We should enjoy life within safe financial boundaries.
• We should set goals and work towards them.
• We should give to causes graciously.
Why do we continue to “should” on ourselves and others, when the only result is a sense of burden and guilt? The financial “s word” puts you in a position of pressure and paralyzes you from becoming your best financial self. From birth, our attitudes towards money are influenced by our DNA, parents, friends and events that unfold. Some messages are positive, while others can be very detrimental.
Embrace the idea that your financial challenges are not a measure of weakness or failure. Many of our trials are predictable responses triggered by stress from experiences we have had in our past. We are not bad or broken — just human. Our financial beliefs and behaviors are based on what we have observed and experienced and how we have mentally and emotionally digested them.
What monetary messages are you playing in your head? As we create awareness, capture and recalibrate mindsets that are holding us back, or build upon beneficial truths, we become more resilient and lead more fulfilling financial lives.
Personally, my early relationship with money was good. I enjoyed babysitting and earning my own money. I felt good when I gave some of what was mine to help others in need. It gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment when I had saved and bought my own customized, second hand, purple sparkly, Schwinn ten speed bike. I was intrigued as my Dad talked about investing — either in real estate or in the stock market. My calling to this business was based on many positive — and some painfully challenging — experiences around money matters. I have had to wrestle with the demons of unworthiness, and discernment of frugality (buying things because they are cheap) versus intentionality and value.
We all have our money stories. In my 24 years of navigating this field, each story is unique. Sam grew up in a wealthy family. His money message was that his self-worth was defined by his net worth. He worked very hard to keep up appearances, but struggled with life purpose and meaning. He was told what he “should” do, where to go to school, what degree to get. His internal message was that money was evil. He had to decide if this message was serving him, or hindering him, and if he wanted to re-write the script and put money into a new light.
Sally was told not to think about money, that everything was taken care of. Mom said “you should marry someone wealthy.” Her internal message was “I don’t need to think about money,” and she was completely disconnected with her choices and her power around financial matters. When the marriage failed and she found herself needing to provide for herself, she worked hard to overcome the guilt and shame and empower herself around financial matters.
More money can exacerbate guilt. Having more money is not the answer, it only magnifies the mindsets. The solution lies in looking at our personal beliefs about money and start changing our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.
Our brains are hardwired to pursue pleasure and flee anything we deem scary. Here is a place to start. Let’s start using the “c” word “choose” — which puts you in a position of power and possibility.
• I choose to have a healthy relationship with money
• I choose to learn how to communicate with family around financial issues
• I choose to set and work toward my long term goals
• I choose to tell my money where to go instead of asking where it went
• I choose to create a giving plan
Ready for a different way? It will be a combination of discerning what is truly important to you, crunching numbers, building your life balance sheet, and engaging allies that will walk alongside you in new and dynamic ways.
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. Her office, Wealth By Design LLC, is in Basalt. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.