Taxes and stress go together like death and taxes. No wonder we get stressed and put off the pain as long as possible. Stress amps up our fight/flight alarm system. Breathing – even 5 or 6 breaths stimulates the relaxation response and both systems can’t be active at the same time.Read More
Financial struggle can become desperation and did with a friend of mine. About a month ago, on a Tuesday morning I got the kind of call you never want to get. A woman friend had ended her life over the weekend. I was shocked and the news hit me hard. While Deb and I hadn’t been living in the same area for years she always lived in my heart. Because of the economy the last few years, we knew Deb had, like so many others been struggling financially.
Laid off from one job she had a great deal of trouble finding another. She was skilled, but over 50 and if you think ageism isn't happening, you're wrong. Rumor was she may not have always had enough to eat or been able to pay her bills. Then she found another job and things seemed better – until she was fired the Friday before taking her life. I can only imagine the fear, perhaps embarrassment, and hopelessness Deb was feeling at that moment. And, then she made a decision many make in the moment of desperation.
But, Deb is not the only woman (or man – perhaps even harder for men to reach out to get help) suffering financially and suffering with the guilt, shame or blame of believing it’s their fault.
Over 24 million women were living below the poverty line in 2009
27.5 % of black women live under poverty line
13.5% of white women in 2009
In Nov 2013 in the State of California food stamp and welfare money was cut. One of my clients lost $100.00 a month from her disability and about $30 a month from food stamps. That's a BIG net loss for someone barely scraping by.
35% of households headed by single moms were “food insecure”
13% of women over 75 were poor compared to 5% of men over 75
Only 40% of women retire with enough money to live on. More women by far retire in poverty than men.
A working wage based on the minimum wage of 8.50 an hour = 17,000 a year – that’s considered below the poverty line.
2010 31.6 % of single women households were poor compared to 15.8 of households headed by single men
How we do help someone who may be in Deb's position? We reach out and past their embarassment or shame with kindness and gentleness by not asking, but just bringing food over for a get together, leaving an envelope with cash for bills, and letting them know we're there for them until they get on their feet again. One person can't solve every problem but a group of friends can make a big difference. I don't think many knew Deb's suffering - she was very private. We ask our connections and friends about job possibilities and try to support the person through the aloneness of struggle.
The larger question is how do we change financial struggle and poverty? Think about it and come up with your answers, but here are a few of mine:
1) We must educate ourselves about money, (there are TONS of resources FREE on the web)
2) Vote our conscience with compassion for those less fortunate
3) Reach out to friends and family if we get the sense they’re struggling more than they are able to say.
4) Collectively: A simple thing we can do is vote for a higher minimum wage to help more people out of poverty. When people are living in poverty they can't spend money on consumer goods as they're able to when more secure.
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!
What’s the top reason for divorce? Money problems. And, money stress, is the number 1 stressor for 80% of Americans. Symptoms include:
Headaches, depression, heart attacks, muscle tension and back pain and ulcers and digestive problems. Notfun.
But what exactly is stressing you about your money situation? Pick your top stressor: Debt, lack of income, not saving enough, fights with your partner, just not knowing where to begin?
Tip 1: Talk About Money
Especially for women, talking about what’s really going on lightens the load and makes you realize you’re not alone. As I give presentations about money to women in business I hear over and over about the struggles with money. Until we talk about what’s going on we FEEL we’re the only one. Find a friend or family member to confide in. If there isn’t one available, I offer a FREE 15 minute consult (LINK HERE209 492-8745 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stress Busting Breakthrough Tip:
Tip 2: BREATHE I know, I know. Breathing won’t CHANGE your money situation, but when the body relaxes the mind relaxes and solutions become more clear.
Here’s How: Exhale first. Breathe in the to the count of 6, hold for a moment and exhale to the count of 6. Take 10 breaths at least 3 x a day. I’ve taught breathing as stress reduction for over 20 years and it’s the #1 most effective tip. It’s FREE, can be done anytime, anywhere.
Tip 3: Create a Plan: You have to start somewhere. Get the bill folder out, the credit card slips. Tally up what you owe. Now you know. It may not be pretty, but not knowing often creates more anxiety. Next step? Figure out what you can pay weekly or monthly – better to pay something than nothing. LearnVest.com is a terrific website for financial help. Feel a little better?
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.)
Overspending and Overeating: Can you ever get enough? No, not to "make you happy, except temporarily." Did you overspend or overeat during the Holidays? More than usual? Are you not surprised to learn that these two behaviors often go together in the same female? “Compulsive shopping or spending can be a seasonal balm for the depression, anxiety and lonelineness during the December holiday season.”(Professor Ruth Engs, RN, EdD, Indiana University)
We may laugh at the term Shopoholics, and it was treated lightly in the movie by the same name. But overspending, like overeating, can be as serious a problem as any of the “isms” such as alcoholism. How much is enough when it comes to spending and eating and what exactly are we trying to accomplish with our indulgences? Pick your answer: To be social, to have fun, to avoid or distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings, to feel better? The first two choices can be guilt free, the third one gets us in trouble because it works only temporarily. Then? We compulsively repeat the behavior, hoping to feel better, or to get high, to avoid all those uncomfortable feelings that come up in life.
Gently ask yourself these questions. They’re meant to help you understand more about your eating and spending:
Did you throw all rules for how much to eat or a spending budget out the window and really overindulge? If so, are you feeling guilt or remorse? Or wondering how to get back on track? Do you have other ways to soothe uncomfortable feelings that don’t have a downside – such as exercise, talking to a friend who’ll tell you the truth, journaling, yoga, a coach or counselor?
Overeating and overspending are behaviors that often go together. Here are suggestions to start the New Year off right, get back on track and have a more conscious Holiday season in 2012:
1) Gently take responsibility for the overindulgences: Tally up the weight gain and amount of money owed.
2) Make a realistic plan – A) How much weight am I going to lose by what date? 1 pound a week is realistic – avoid drastic diet loss programs – they don’t work long term. B) What amount of money can I put toward paying off my credit cards each month? C) How will I hold myself accountable? For weight – have an accountability partner, join Weight Watchers or Food Addicts Anonymous? For debt – take a financial awareness course like Dave Ramsey, or speak with a money coach (like myself).
3) Understand that the drivers of compulsivity are often feelings. Feelings of anxiety, depression, STRESS that are normal parts of life. Learn to go into those feelings safely, preferably daily. An easy to use guide is TARA (Touch, Accept, Release, Action) available as a FREE download at www.coachingmodesto.com on right side of page. (from Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom 2009)
*Uncontrolled Spending: A Clinician’s Guide to Compulsive Buying Ronald J. Faber, University of Minnesota
Ever spend money to calm the stress of a hectic, demanding week? Or grabbed your second Starbucks of the day because you deserve something good? These are examples of what we do to make ourselves feel better when the brain is stressed. We humans like to "think" we are so rational, but don't believe it. Stress makes us much more vulnerable to making less than good decisions. Hello weight gain and expanding credit card debt!
But are we addicted to stress and fear? "The more we reach for the doughnut (the Starbucks, the new shoes) without being conscious of how we're feeling - anxious, stressed, unhappy- the more we cement in the fear that's driven us to reach for it in the first place. In fact, the more we deny our fears with distractions, the more compulsive we become." (Lynn T.S. Intentional JOY)
Ted and Brad Klontz state that the human brain under stress is like a tilted table. Anxiety and fear make us feel off-balance and the brain then looks for ways to rebalance. (Mind Over Money.) Of course, our advertiser based, consumer culture supplies us with plenty of suggestions (commercials anyone?) that sit under the surface waiting for the perfect moment - Friday night, kids fighting in the back seat, dinner to be prepared at home - blam - McDonalds here we come.
An important thing to remember is none of this is really bad or wrong. We are human, flawed and imperfect. That's the deal. We also have choice. It's ok to want to calm, soothe and comfort ourselves. But, how? The gift of being human is that we have the ability to wake up, to become conscious and to practice new behavior. Think about this: Imagine the consequences of more healthy stress relievers? Yoga, breathing, a walk, a talk with a friend are all proven stress busting, brain calming methods that don't leave a residue of guilt. Or, do you continue to seek the easy solution and end up feeling worse over the long run? Start with baby steps. Awareness there's a problem is that first step.