If you have been living under a rock then you have been in financial ignorant bliss since 2008. The recession and the recent debt crisis has everyone concerned about money - where to get more, not having enough and wondering where it all went.
People have all sorts of feelings attached to money and those feelings are never all about the money. I work with clients of all ages and stages in their careers; in each life phase, money may mean something different. Although the #1 concern I have discussed across the board is how money woes (and more specifically the difficulty in managing money) are tied to one's self-esteem. Money's fundamental purpose is to allow us to procure goods and services. We need money to live! Often, money worries leave one feeling like a failure. But I believe our biggest failure is that we don't talk about money worries beyond the concrete. And then money worries become shameful secrets which exacerbate feelings of failure. It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop. Some attribute financial solvency as a sign of success while others see it as an anxiety laden separation from their parents. Others find that the material objects they posses help them create a sense of self that they desire, at the expense of creating an internalized sense of self worth. Still, some find their debt holds them back from truly succeeding. At it's worst, someone may suffer from compulsive spending and needs a great deal of help.
I never take on the role of financial advisor but I do openly discuss money problems with clients. Why is it so embarrassing to talk about this topic? If your money problem was different, how would your life be different? What does having money mean to you? Why do you think you bought the new iPad when you're behind on your rent? If something went 'wrong' this month, what happened differently and what can you learn from this? Financial struggles are ubiquitous, the degree in which they cause distress are unique.
Although I refrain from giving advice, I do believe it's important to give people some concrete resources. Any resources or companies mentioned are based out of experiences of my clients or myself. By no means are they official, compensated endorsements. I strongly encourage finding a financial planner and/or an accountant to assist you attain your goals. My area of expertise is addressing the feelings attached to money!
-Budget. Yes it's difficult. Start with knowing what you need to live. I don't mean just food, clothing and shelter, although they are the priority. Recall last week's post on self care, what you need should energize you, rejuvenate you and increase your well-being. Make a budget for those things, not kidding. But be honest, knowing what you need to feel safe and secure is different that knowing what you want to feel better about yourself!
-Mint.com is a great, FREE, web based program that creates budgets based on your current spending. It also gives you ways to save, shows you trends in your spending and even helps you plan for goals. Want to go to Italy next summer? Plan ahead. Want to get out of credit card debt? You got it. Saving for the big wedding day? Start!
-Suze Orman has a great book for young professionals, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke." Her writing is accessible and gives you game plans if you want to reach certain goals.
-GreenPath debt solutions is a non-for profit debt solution agency. They offer free consultations and there are no fees if you choose not to work with them. More information can be found at www.greenpath.com
-Next time you suddenly find yourself at the check out line think, "Why am I here right now?" "Can I genuinely afford this right now? If not, can I wait until I can?"
-Narrow down your financial goals. Is it getting out of debt? Saving enough for a down payment on a home? Contribute more to a retirement fund? The clearer you are with what you want, the more likely you are able to attain it. And that goes with a lot of things in life!
-Debtors Anonymous is a fellowship for people who struggle with debt and compulsive spending. The support people find knowing that they are not alone with this struggle is invaluable.
I welcome any other tips and resources!
If you find that your money worries are becoming overwhelming, seek professional help on all fronts: financial planning, debt reduction and mental well-being.
I do want to add that by no means is this topic easy to talk about! It's just as difficult to talk about money as any other facet of one's life.