Deborah Price, International Money Coach and author of Money Magic, says too many people feel like money victims right now. A victim is characterized by powerlessness, hopelessness, and blame which is often the result of a great loss. Americans have good reason to feel victimized - from job loss and downsizing to fear of losing a job if they don’t work unreasonable hours, to short sales and foreclosures - there’s a lot of economic pain to spread around. And, the emphasis is on fear, which is not a good place from which to problem solve.Read More
What’s one of the biggest mistakes women make with their money? As I ask women and men to respond to this question, one answer comes up repeatedly: women give their money, time and energy away too freely. Then they don't have enough for themselves.
Who do they give their money to? Usually their children and I’m not talking about those under 18. “An online poll commissioned in May by the National Endowment for Financial Education and Forbes.com found that nearly 60% of parents are giving, or have in the past granted, financial support to adult children who are no longer in college.”*
Yes, I know the tough economy is a factor with women wanting to step in and help their adult children. It's a lovely part of women's (& many men's) natures that we are the nurturers and caretakers of the family. But sometimes we over-equate love and money. To not give money can seem selfish to mothers. And, mothers are encouraged by culture and church to sacrifice for the well-being of their children, right?
That’s not a bad thing, unless it leaves the mother in dificult financial straits. I’ve talked to women who have been robbed by their children, given in to sob story after sob story, been taken advantage of and even those left nearly destitute because of over-giving.
There is a balance point between over giving and creating dependency or entitlement. It’s not selfish, but self-loving to consider your own financial need and to set limits with children about what and how much you’re willing to help. As we’ve heard often – women, put your own oxygen mask on first.
*(Modesto Bee, Michelle Singletary, The Color of Money column 11-27-11)
The definition of rape is usually associated with a woman being physically forced to have sex. However, it is also "an act of plunder, violent seizure or abuse; as in the rape of the countryside," or in this case the rape of our world money system. Though hundreds around the world invested in the credit default swap market, 15 Hedge Fund managers went ALL IN and placed enormous bets that American finance would go up in flames. In other words they bet that the easy finance house of cards bank created would collapse and they could cash in. That's exactly what happened. Even though these financiers were betting against us, a few tried to warn Bear Stearns and later the goverrnements about what was coming. But, the ostrich phenomenon kept everyone from listening, or most importantly, taking action, until it was too late.
The very sad and still scary part of this story is that the fall is far from over. The world economy has never had the kind of debt it now has. For example: in 2002 world debt went from $84 trillion to $195 trillion. To give you some understanding of the numbers: Ireland's debts were more than 25X it's tax revenues. Spain and France 10X annual tax revenues. No where to go financially but down. Iceland, (I'll blog separately about the lessons from that country) ended up with debts amounting to 850% of their GDP. The U.S. 350%. Yow!!
If you haven't understood what exactly happened to put the money world in the predicament we're in, then read Michael Lewis' "Boomerang." He concisely explains the series of events that led us to the precipice we're on. Events that were predicted back in 2004. Here's a quick summary: In 2004 Wall Street created the credit default swap which enabled investors to bet against the price of any given bond - to "short" it. This is like default insurance on another person's investment.
The Solution to our world financial crisis? No one really knows. But it's interesting that the "Occupy Wall Street" Marches have sprung up and people are waking up to the fact that SOMETHING different needs to occur with our financial system and the way corporations plunder while everyday folks suffer the effects. What do you think?
Do you stick your head in the sand when it comes to your money problems? It's a common tendency. We think we can make something go away if we don't think about it. This is magical thinking which is how children operate. It's sad to say that sometimes we grown ups are so afraid of our financial circumstanceswe treat our money like a child would. I get it - I have been there done that. But, it's time to put your big girl money pants on and look at exactly what's happening with your financial situation.
First, face the fact that your money problems will not get any better until you start dealing with them. Second, look at exactly what your bills are and your income. Then define your options. For example, a woman I spoke with this week has overwhelming credit card debt - not unusual these days. I advised her to see a bankruptcy attorney to get advice about whether filing is in her best interest. Another women I spoke with is just barely putting food on the table and she has teenagers that want new clothes. Understandable, but.... Teenagers can be part of their own solution. Don't give them all the gory financial details but let them know there isn't money for extras and if they want new clothes they can babysit, (I printed out flyers and distributed them in my neighborhood when I was 15), or yes, even work at a fast food restaurant.
Women are smart, creative and full of incredible potential. If you know of a woman that's really good with her money, ask her to give you some mentoring help or support. Read to increase your awareness about how you feel about money, what your behavior patterns and beliefs are that support or limit you, and to know how to manage your money. Books I recommend include Suze Orman's Women & Money, Lynne Twist's, The Soul of Money, Deborah Price's Money Magic and Chellie Campbell's The Wealthy Spirit. We women have got to take care of ourselves and taking control of our money is an important way to put those big girl pants on!!
What kind of financial education did you get as a child or young adult? For most of us, it's the school of hard knocks and we make lots of money mistakes by the time we're thirty or fifty. Those of us that are smart take a class or read a few books about money. But, reading a book or taking a class doesn't get at those unconscious or below the surface memories, that fuel our money problems.
When we're children we observe what's happening in our families around money and make up stories to understand and make sense of what is going on around us. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to comprehend the world of money. The Iceberg theory states that 10% of our mind is conscious and the rest is subconscious or under the surface. When your money buttons get pushed and you react instantly - for example, when your wife comes home with a shopping bag from the mall, but hasn't paid the bills yet, that may plug into a childhood memory.
To understand more deeply your current relationship with money takes some exploration. Deborah Price, in her book Money Magic, describes the Mother/Father Mirror Exercise. She suggests you get into a relaxed, "stream of consciousness" state (sit quietly, take a few slow breaths, relax) and allow pictures or images to form of your parents or guardians. Start with your mother and as you get a clear image of her make a list of characterstics, energies or attitudes you attribute to her around money. Then do the same with your father.
Now, gently ask these questions: Which parent do I most mirror in my relationship with money? What aspects do I consider positive or negative? Which characteristics do I embrace or appreciate? The negative characteristics are often the unconscious money aspects we either deny or avoid. They're also the ones we tend to most react to in our partner. How can you allow this new awareness to help you in your current money situation? As we gain new insight it can soothe financial stress and lead us into transforming our patterns, habits and beliefs with money.
You may love the money in your life or hate it, but you are definitely in a relationship. Your relationship with your money could be healthy or unhealthy, conscious and involved or mostly ignored and avoided. Deborah Price says, “We have a relationship with anything we are connected to or dependent on.” Many of us don’t think about or evaluate our relationship with money though it touches our lives every single day. And, depending on how we treat our relationship with money, it can be our friend or foe because it mirrors back to us exactly what we put into the relationship.
If you’re not sure what your relationship with money is try this short exercise: Think about money and write down the first 5 words that come into your mind. As short as this list is, it will tell you something very quickly about whether the part of you that sits under the surface (your subconscious mind) views money as positive or negative. (And, it’s the subconscious mind that we need to understand because it often runs the money show especially in times of stress).
Let’s say the words were something like: scary, overwhelming, secretive, fun, never enough. I’m just making this up now, but if my relationship with money is influenced by this type of “shadow” energy which means what I really think that's under the surface, I may find myself going along just fine, not thinking much about money as long as things are stable. I also may spend money and keep it a secret from my partner because I don’t want them to get “mad” at me, or it’s my way of exerting some control with my husband. When a financial challenge comes along – blam – that feeling of overwhelm hits and I avoid dealing with the money problem, and we know how well that works, right?
So, now what? You may have a glimpse that there’s more to your relationship with money than just your paycheck or the bills you pay. Tune in tomorrow for how to understand your relationship with money by looking at your parents relationship with money. As Deborah Price says your ability to change your relationship with money lies in direct proportion to your level of consciousness or awareness about money. So, let's explore our money relationship.