Why do we make our financial life so difficult when it doesn’t have to be? One reason is that we want to feel better right now and our consumer culture loves to prime the “I work so hard, I deserve something” pump. Feeling stressed, unhappy, dissatisfied? Buy something – that’ll make everything better - temporarily... Except that after the initial glow wears off – usually by the time you get home – remorse or guilt set in, along with the now monthly payment that goes on and on. Yow.Read More
Do you suffer from “Happychondria*,” or the fear of being happy. What about “moneychondria” or the fear of having money? I think it’s safe to say many of us have both of those fears though we would deny it’s so because those beliefs often sit below our conscious thoughts. However you’ll see the evidence of those fears if some of these conditions exist:
(Circle all that apply for you)
* You spend more than you make,
* You “debt,” or consistently run up credit card debt,
* You under-earn or
* Over-service clients (a condition that many self-employed do).
* You give your money away (to children and other “needy” folks and don’t keep enough for yourself) – a money mistake women often make
* You’re not planning or saving for the future
* You make plenty of money, but feel out of control because you don’t manage it
Let’s take a look at how much money it takes for Happiness. Here’s a question I like to ask audience members when I give talks such as Power Up Your Money, Power UP your Life:
How much money does the average American say they need to be happy?
Pick one - Multiple Choice
1) $100,000 annual income
2) $50,000 annual income
3) $1 million annual income
4) $75,000 annual income
If you picked D you win the prize. Research shows that $75,000 is the income most Americans currently feel is enough for a decent standard of living.
But, how much money is enough for you to be happy? Not your parents, neighbors, siblings, friends? But just you, my friend.
1) My current annual income is $________________.
2) In order to insure happiness and contentment financially with no more money problems and worries, my annual income would need to be $______________________. (*from David Krueger’s The Secret Language of Money.)
For most of you the 2nd number will be about twice the size of the first. While we all want to have goals, what happens when we reach those goals? Most people set a NEW number that is – yes – you guessed it – about twice the size of the previous. When is what we’re making enough? When do we decide to stop chasing MORE and be happy with what we have? We all deserve to have enough money and happiness and when we become conscious of what's getting in the way we are able to create that for ourselves.
As a Certified Money Coach I offer a FREE 15 minute Strategy Session for any money situation you’re struggling with. Email me at lynntelfordsahl@gmail or call (209) 492-8745.
(*from Happiness Now by Robert Holden, Ph.D - highly recommend this book)
A friend of mine has a saying, “If you want to know what you believe, look at what you’re experiencing.” So true. But many of us don’t want to look at what we believe or how we behave with money because we’re afraid of what we might find. And, we often don’t have a safe way of doing so. That’s where money coaching is helpful.
What we believe affects how much money we make, manage or or build for the future. For example, the overspender justifies her purchases with excuses - “Well, I’m not spending that much, I only shop at the dollar store.” The avoider doesn’t look at his bank account balance, or save for retirement because it’s too far away to feel real.
Our core money beliefs are ingrained deeply within. We have we’ve stopped asking WHY we need to work so hard or acquire money. But what money means to us is a key question to understand. Kansas State University and the Klontz Consulting Group show that How much money is enough for you? That’s a question I ask when giving presentations and the answer tends to be twice what they’re currently earning. When they reach that next goal? The new goal is – you see where we’re going here – twice again.
Take the Quiz by clicking on this link and find out if the beliefs that run your money bus are: Money Worship, Money Vigilance, Money Avoidance, or Money Status and you’ll find there are recommended steps to deal with each type. Then call or email me and we’ll talk about the results in a 15 minute complimentary conversation.
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)
My Money Attitude for much of my adult life was avoidance. Except for paying the bills and talking to our financial advisor once a year, I didn’t think about money much. I worked as an addiction specialist for over 20 years and was more focused on helping than how much money was coming in. Then I started a coaching practice, my husband will be retiring, and last year I became Certified as a Money Coach. Now, I’m VERY interested to know more about money and how I and others, think about, manage and especially mismanage their money.
Here's a Quick Money Assessment:
Is your current attitude about your money more based on fear or peaceful?
Fear ___ Peaceful ___
Do you feel in control of your money? Y N
Or out of control, overwhelmed? Y N
Do you actively manage your money on a daily or frequent basis ? Y N
Do you avoid checking your balance? Y N
If you’re 35 or older, are you actively saving towards retirement? Y N
What I hear when I talk with clients is that our attitudes about money are all over the board – from total avoidance to obsessive worry. Neither effective strategies for feeling good about our money or helping it grow.
I also notice that people are rather clueless about how to manage the money available. I was and who can blame us? What money management practices did your parents teach you? There are folks may look really good from the outside – nice house, car, pretty clothes, upscale lifestyle. But because I’m a Money Coach I see what goes on behind their financial doors – not so functional. No judgment or blame – they’re doing what they believe they need to do to feel good about themselves.
Steve Repak’s new book: “Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training for Your Money,” suggests that retraining the mind is essential to changing your money habits and that it’s never too late. First he says you have to commit to wanting things to change, to be different. So true, as the addiction author Ernie Larsen said, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Repak suggests starting with small changes – instead of going out to lunch every day (can save 150.00 a month easy there) pack a lunch. Commit to reducing debt one card at a time. (Nothing new there.) And, this is my encouragement – stay focused on your financial goals, which means you need to have some to begin with. A good first step is to know where you’re at – income, expenses, bills, needs and wants.
Nice Girls Don't Get Rich author Lois Frankel, Ph.D (a rich woman in more ways than one) says that many of the characteristics that make women uniquely feminine are the very same behaviors that prevent them from becoming financially independent. What does she mean by that?
Women are socialized to be the caretakers and still today more women go into the helping professions than men, which don't pay as well as other professions. Ms. Frankel says she spent "the first half her adult life believing that doing good and doing well were mutually exclusive."
Take a look at this "nice girl" programming and see what you think:
* Money is power, and most little girls are not taught to be powerful - they're taught to be "nice."
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.
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)
If you're self-employed, an entrepreneur or career oriented you've got to get your money house in order. I know, I know, it's nearly Christmas and you're crazy busy. But, I want to plant an important business seed for 2012 because it'll be here in ten seconds.
In order to make the most money, have less stress, and achieve your full potential (financial is part of that) and have fun along the way, here are 5 Money things you need to do in 2012.*
1) Get Your Money House in Order: Assess what's working well financially and what the challenges are. For example, let's start with the basics. Are you making enough money? No? What do you think/feel are the 3 main reasons for this? Be careful about blaming the economy. I know it's a factor, but I also know many businesses that are booming - mine included.
2) Know your Money Story: Especially if you're struggling to get to the next level financially and you keep bumping up against the same obstacle or stuck place. I can guarantee you that there's a hidden emotional piece in your history. Yesterday, while going through The Money History with a client, she realized that her "make do and settle" pattern came from resistance to becoming like her mother. A huge ah-ha.
3) Write down your goals for 2012. If you're self-employed and you have a goal of earning $25,000 or $50,000 net income a year, how many clients will it take each week and month to bring in that amount of money. The more specific you are (a spreadsheet is handy) the easier it will be to achieve. Look at your goals each day, visualize the end result as if it's already happened. Then take action each and every day.
4) Realize that you have a RELATIONSHIP with money. As Suze Orman says and I'm paraphrasing: "Women don't show the same care to their relationship with money, as with other relationships, because they have a dysfunctional relationship with money. What are your money dysfunctions: Overspending, debt, avoiding, underearning, not respecting your money so you don't take good care of it? Identify THE major dysfunction and conquor it this year.
5) Grow your Wealth: One of the biggest money mistakes I see women make (and I used to also) is to not grow their wealth. Women give too much time, energy and MONEY away to others - primarily children. If they don't they feel guilty. More money comes to us as we learn to respect it, take care of it, grow it. If you haven't started a retirement account or savings account (for emergencies - $1,000 minimum) make it a goal to start this year.
*If you're in Modesto or close by check out my 2012 4 hour Business Strategy Session for Women). I do this workshop every year and at the end we do a Vision Board with your Goals and Action Steps for 2012)
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.