I’ve found it hard to see so many of my friends — smart and capable women- struggling with their finances. Not struggling in the sense that can’t make ends meet — in that sense we’re all pretty well off. They make good money and have their life together — but somehow they cannot nail that one crucial piece that would truly put them in the driver’s seat: their money.
When I say “struggling” I mean being surprised by expenses that could in reality be planned for, not planning for the future, that kind of thing. Struggles that wouldn’t be there if they “just did the right things”. But “just doing the right things” is not that simple.
And what’s worse, people who don’t have their finances together like that, are quite hard on themselves. They feel like they’re lagging behind, they think everyone around them has it all together and planned out. They judge themselves. They beat themselves up about it.
And the result? They avoid the problem altogether. They bury their head in the sand, hoping the money issue won’t come and find them. Plus, they tell themselves they’ll busy themselves with it the next year, or when they get a raise, that kind of thing. The nagging feeling is still there though, because deep down they know that’s just procrastination and that it’s likely they won’t get to it then either.
If you recognize any of this, I hope you know this: you’re not alone. You’re not that one loser who hasn’t got it figured out while the rest of us are all excelling at #adulting. Absolutely not.
And why are you not alone? Why are so many in the same situation as you? Well that’s because we don’t talk about money (that’s so improper!), for most of us because it was not as an important piece in our education as math and history were, and because we hold many false (and limiting) beliefs when it comes to money.
So first of all, I ask you: please, please forgive yourself. Forgive yourself because it’s quite understandable you’re in the situation you find yourself in right now. And forgive yourself, because it’s the first thing you can do to take yourself out of this situation.
How does that work? Well, I’ve got some good news for you. If you forgive yourself, it will be much easier for you to take your head out of the sand and face the situation you’re in. And only when you do that, you get to make a change. Only then, you get to take action, grab your money by the horns and change course.
And there’s more good news where that came from. You’re further than you think. I recently came across this framework of personal change by the psychology professor James Prochaska. He says there are 5 stages of personal behavior change:
1) Before considering to take action (not ready)
2) Considering to take action (getting ready)
3) Preparing to take action (ready)
Most people are in stage 1 when it comes to their money matters. They do not really acknowledge there is a problem. And here’s the good news I was talking about. Those in stage 1, those who are not acknowledging there is some kind of problem that they might take action on, would not be reading this blog. And as you’re reading this, that means you’re not one of those people. That means you’re at least in stage 2, if not further! You’re way ahead of the rest, I tell you.
If you were not on the “I can forgive myself” train yet, can you come on board now? You’re not the only one, and in fact, you’re ahead of many others.
Being kind to yourself and proud for where you are already, should not be an excuse to leave things as they are of course. I’m not saying you should accept the situation you’re in moving forward. I’m saying to accept it is not great , lift your head up, and trust that you’re ready to face the music. More than that, you can face your finances and do something about it. It is not true that only rich people can save. You don’t have to be a numbers wizard or an investment specialist to manage your own money. You can do this — anyone can do this. As long as you accept that you should and muster the courage to take action on it.
Even if you’ve forgiven yourself for being where you are today, and even if you really want a change, you may still not be convinced that control over your finances is written in the stars for you. Trust me, I get it. Stick with me and I will show you that you can.