Women in Business: What are your money excuses? There are reasons why you don't have the money you'd really like to have. Do you treat money with the respect it deserves?Read More
Shh.... Did you tell your spouse or partner how much you really spent for Christmas or shopping trips or even vacations? What would they say if they knew? What other money secrets do you keep?Read More
Money Stress: #1 Source of Stress for 75% of Americans?
True, according to the American Psychological Association. I talk to people every week in the Central Valley of California that are losing their homes, are upside down with their mortgages, have been "downsized," lost their jobs, filed bankruptcy and are in desperate financial struggle. Many are blaming themselves for their financial problems and feel guilty and ashamed as if it's all their fault. That's not the whole picture. (Footnote: Originally written in 2009 and the home market is improving, but there are still many homeowners holding on to homes and struggling financially, or trying to modify homeloans and financial stress is still #1)
While it's true we are ultimately responsible for the good and bad choices we make about money, it's also true that it's hard to make good decisions about money when we get bad information or are poorly trained in money matters. We Americans should be paying attention to the fact that the financial institutions have made a LOT of money in the last couple of years. We need to hold ourselves AND these institutions accountable.
2 Keys to Create a Healthier Relationshio with Money:
1) Raise Your Money Consciousness and assess where you're at by asking these questions:
* Do you avoid the topic of $ or obsess about it or alternate between the two extremes?
* Can you talk about $ with your partner? If not, what's uncomfortable?
* What's your greatest fear about money?
2) Finish Your Unfinished $ Business:
When I was a girl I asked my Dad something about my parents finances and he told me it was none of my "blankety, blank business." That told me money was a scary subject and better left alone. It took me a long time to discover that memory and to realize that avoiding the topic of money made things worse.
Think about and journal: What's my earliest money memory? What's my greatest money fear? How do these positive or negative memories show themselves in my life today?
As we individually work to heal our relationship with money, hold ourselves and our financial institutions accountable, we will shift from being so STRESSED about money and be more confident with our $ decisions.
How does your money talk to you? Bob Dylan says: "Money doesn't talk - it screams." Like sex in the 50s or family abuse secrets in the 70s, the subject of money is taboo. Sshh... Don't talk about your money!!
We don't talk about how much money we make, whether we can pay our bills or not, about the financial stress or hardship we're experiencing. It's embarrassing and we think we're alone, but we're not. There's a saying from the field of psychology, that we're only as sick as the secrets we keep. Money is the last taboo and we need to share our money truths to feel better and move forward.
See if you relate to any of these thoughts or beliefs about money that Louse Hay discusses in her article, "Are You Friends With Your Money?"
* I can't save money
* I don't earn enough
* My credit rating is bad
* Why does everyone else have money?
* Bankruptcy is around the corner
Notice these are all fear based thoughts about money. Because of the economy there's been a considerable fear and negativity around our money. This is actually good if we take steps and not let the fear overwhelm our ability to take action, work diligently to be real about what's going on and take our power back.
The first step out of money fear is to break denial and tell the truth to yourself and your spouse. Make a list of all the money you owe and the money coming in. Create an action plan and look at your list every day while taking daily small incremental steps - pay $10.00 on PGE, talk to the bank, again, send out 10 resumes. Staying on track with an action plan will help you feel more in control.
Financial freedom takes work. You start where you are. It's ok. You're not alone. Tell the truth, make a list, create a plan, take daily small steps, stay conscious of your spending, and don't forget to dream and envision what you want. We need to focus more on where we're going than where we've been or what we've lost. The American Dream isn't dead, but it's been tarnished. It's up to us to shine it up again.
Winter Money Blues? Zip Right Out of Them! Whether you're business women, or stay at home moms, it's the third dreary, cold, gray week of January. Christmas bills are coming in, the budget was blown, the spending high of December long forgotten and tax time is right around the corner. No wonder January is the longest month of the year.
Remember, we nearly always survive January anyway, but here's how to speed up the financial peace process.
1) Give yourself 1 hour or 1 day (depending on your needs) to REALLY feel the sadness, depression, angst of your situation. Moan, groan, complain, vent, cry, yell. Go into it and when that allotted time is complete - move on.
2) Financially Assess where you're at: Pull your ostrich head out of wherever it's been and take stock. Look at all the bills, count up the money owed, make a list of what's due, when.
3) Make decisions. You've got the list of money coming in and bills due. What's the loudest bill? What can you pay on it. Go down the list. Prioritize.
4) Send the payments. No matter how few or how small, actually sending the payments out feels good.
5) Congratulate yourself - Ta-Dah. "I did it." Call a friend and share. Feel good about the progress rather than always striving for perfection. There now - it's nearly February!
As a woman in business, who is also a Certified Money Coach, I know what it's like to struggle with money and how good it feels to take charge. Financial peace and health come with focus, prioritizing and persistence. Here's to you!
Losing weight and keeping it off has always been tough. But bad spending habits can be just as challenging and destructive. Now there are Apps like Urge or Make a Habit, Break a Habit (see below) to make it easier to stay on track with behavior changes.
What kind of bad money habits do you have? Are you an unconscious spender or compulsive shopper? Do you go to the mall and two hours later have bags of purchases and you can't remember what exactly you paid for them? Are you a secret shopper? And, I don’t mean the kind that’s hired by Safeway to check up on their customer service. I mean do you sneak your purchases home when your husband is busy and hide them so you don’t feel guilty, or get grilled? Do you struggle to maintain a budget or is budget a word you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with?
Changing our habits is not for the weak willed. We need help. Like poor spending habits, food, weight and exercise habits have been particularly tough to change long term. But Behavorial Modification programs are getting positive attention again and are based on making small incremental changes that build progress over time. You may be surprised to know that Weight Watchers is basically a behavorial modification program and it’s one of the most effective.
For those of you that have a money problem there are apps like Lose It, or Make a Habit, Break a Habit which lets users choose the behavior they’d like to change, like shopping less, or Urge, which “prompts users to hold off on impulse purchases to hit budgeting goals.”
These Apps are exciting, cool and they work because they improve on the principles of good ol’ 12 Step Programs – support, feedback, slow steady changes and the good feelings that come with healthy change. (The Perfected Self by David H Freedman, The Atlantic June 2012)
Television companies LOVE Super Bowl Month. That's when 4.5 million of you bought new big screen TV sets in 2011, which was up from 3.6 million in 2010. Now, here's the question: If you're impulsively buying a new TV this season, are you more likely to use credit or pay cash? And, which part of your brain do you think is in charge of this decision - your logical neocortex or your more emotional midbrain? And why could the latter be a huge problem? (Well, not for the credit card companies.)
Before I answer those questions, think about this: *"Would you rather have $15 in two weeks or $20 in four weeks?" According to fMRI brain imaging scans taken while the person is pondering, this question lights up your prefrontal cortex because it asks you to project into the future. But this next question: "Would you rather have $15 now or $20 in 2 days?" shows that the logical ignores that question and the primitive brain lights up. This is why we get into big trouble as consumers. If we want something and we want it NOW we will have it. Just CHARGE IT, right?
Of course we all know that consumer debt is a problem that creates strife and struggle. For you Cpa’s or Financial Advisors this piece around emotional decisions vs. logical is key when you’re advising your clients to save and invest in their future. Saving for the future is a prefrontal logical decision. Unfortunately, the emotional brain is all too often in charge. We all know of someone (cough, cough) who know they SHOULD be saving for their future or be adding money into their 401K. But the immediate reward of NOW wins out.
To help keep your logical brain in charge of major decisions, Dr. Krueger says to avoid making important money decisions when you're emotional or too tired, wait and sleep on big decisions and have a plan that you STICK to. There's an acronym from 12 Step Programs: HALT: which means to avoid getting too hungry, angry, longely or tired because these are vulnerable states of mind.
(*from The Secret Language of Money, David Krueger, M.D.)
My coach and mentor Deborah Price of The Money Coaching Institute in Petaluma, CA says that most widows are out of money within 5 years. Whew!! Frightening. She also says: "A Man is not a retirement plan." As a Money Coach I talk to women every day who avoid the topic of retirement, or the subject of money in general. I understand, I used to be one of those women!!
But life can provide rude awakenings so please read on and I'll share a true story with you: I was at a party and got to talking to a woman about money because she asked me what I do. Glenda (name changed) told me that she’s now 75. When she was 59 her husband died unexpectedly at 66. She called Social Security to find out about her benefits as she assumed she would receive 70% of his monthly amount and was shocked to find out that for each month she was NOT 65 Social Security deducted ½% of his total. She ended up receiving 40%, a very different amount than she had planned on or needed to live the comfortable lifestyle they had together. (Note: I've since talked to a really sharp financial advisor and she's investigating whether it's possible for her to now change and take her own SS benefits over her husbands).
I have a friend who just lost her husband, again unexpectedly. He was 72 and she’s 47. They have no children so she will only receive a $250.00 death benefit and has no right to any of his social security. I know he thought she’d be fine when he went. But, she no longer has his income which amounted to most of their monthly income.
The moral of these stories? Know what Social Security will and will not provide, make sure you have life insurance, (my 47 year old friends husband did not) and have a financial advisor calculate out the amount of money you will need per month to maintain at least 75% of your income. Start an automatic savings program and find a good financial advisor in your area. Ask around and if you're a woman in business try to find a good female adviser. Losing a husband is a huge loss and financial problems complicate everything. Start thinking about and planning not only the IDEAL retirement, but for the worse-case scenarios and you'll be ok financially.
Money is power and women are taught to be nice, not powerful. Really. Think about that. From the time we're little girls we're taught to think about others and to override our own feelings for the sake of someone else's. Boys are taught to win and compete and they feel very comfortable with that. Personally, I believe we women can be powerful AND nice.
In order to get your Money House in Order first identify one or two mistakes you've been making with money. Here are a few to pick from. Try to be objective and don't blame yourself. The powerful stance is to take responsibility, learn from our mistakes and make new decisions to take new action this coming year.
Mistakes Women Make with Money:
1) Spend Unconsciously: Piddle money away on things like Starbucks, another pair of shoes, fast food.
Money House in Order Power Tip: Get a small notebook or on a SmartPhone use the Note function and track every single expenditure over the next 30 days. Eye-opening.
2) Take Care of Others Before Take Care of Self Financially: How many times have you (to be nice) given money to your adult children, boyfriends, partners, parents, people in need rather than save more of it for your future?
Money House in Order Power Tip: Consider that most women don't have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, especially single women. Give, but give consciously and sometimes giving to adult children is financial enabling and hurts rather than truly helps.
3) Overspend or Overshop to Cope with Anxiety, Stress or Just Because: Women waste so much money on things they don't need. "A need is replacing something that's worn out. A want is everything else." ( Peggy Gardiner, Professional Organizer) It's fun to shop. I get it. But, stay conscious of the immediate pleasure vs. how your money needs to work for you over the long term.
Money House in Order Power Tip: If you tend to shop when feeling anxious or stressed take a PAUSE to think rather than shop out of habit. During this pause take 10 breaths. Ask yourself - what do I really need? Time, relaxation, listening to, fun, pleasure? What are other ways I can satisfiy this? How much can I really afford to spend? What's the most powerful thing I can do with this money?
Here's to you getting your money house in order and as a result feeling and being more powerful with your financial choices. Remember, you can be nice and powerful.
Big Girl ACTION:
1) For fun, take the Money Type Quiz to find out whether you’re a Warrior Money Type – focused and disciplined or possibly a Fool – happy-go-lucky, not necessarily good at paying the bills. Lynn offers a FREE 15 minute results phone consult.