How do you feel when you walk into a room that looks like it’s straight out of Hoarders? The floors are creaking with old junk, clothes, books and an avalanche of papers. It smells bad.
You’d rather not see it. Same thing can be true with your money. The messier your situation the less you want to look. The Inner Nerd points out that you can clean up that mess by budgeting and tracking your spending but that’s no fun. Plus, nobody’s ever taught you how to do it.
Three common roadblocks often obstruct your ability to relax around money. Our attitude can improve dramatically if we take the time to look underneath the surface of some of outdated ways of thinking.
Looking at this mess just stresses you out, so you avoid it. Which only adds to your stress. You end up feeling embarrassed, frustrated and incompetent. At some point you just say Fuck It! I wanna enjoy my life. What’s the difference if I spend $200 on myself or save it? It’s not easy to answer this question when your money room’s a mess. Before you can even tell what’s in there, you’re gonna need to move some stuff out of the way.
How to respond: Take a deep breath, and let's get started.
For starters, get rid of the should-y language of shame. After all, negative self-talk only makes you want to pull the curtain shut so nobody can see your mess. Instead, start by taking a breath and filling your heart with self-compassion.
Your underlying money-feelings and resulting behaviors didn’t appear overnight, and neither will your clean room. You may think you can bypass all this introspection by simply making more money. I hear clients say all the time “I just want to make enough where I don’t have to worry about my money.” And while it’s true that people who make more than $75,000/year generally have their needs met, it’s also true that the more you make, the more likely you are to overspend.
How to respond: Clean your slate with a beginner's mind.
You’ll want to take an honest look at your fundamental money beliefs and habits if you really want to achieve a deep, satisfying, long-term positive relationship with money.
Most people’s money mess involves some level of spending beyond their means. This is common when you’ve given a lot of meaning and story to what it looks like to have a nice car and beautiful house. Social media only intensifies the pressure to keep up with Joneses who love to showcase their perfect clothes and fancy vacations. You too want some of these finer things and Visa is happy to satisfy with one click. They’ll even throw in some clever bonus points or cash awards.
It’s interesting that so many people pull out the credit card rather than dip into their savings. After all, everybody knows savings are not meant to be touched! But in reality, this mindset contributes to your money messiness. Rigid thinking about savings fails to take two things into account: you’re gonna want to splurge sometimes and…everybody’s favorite: Something Always Comes Up.
I see this over and over with my clients. As soon as they start accumulating money a pet gets sick or a water heater breaks down. And look: we’re right back to Fuck It! Part of what makes this cycle so difficult is that most people are not used to the concept of savings that’s meant to be spent.
How to respond: Build short-term savings.
Once you divide your accounts between long-term savings and a one just for planned expenses, the pressure of debt will lighten up. You’ll have neat slots for these kinds of expenses, debt, everyday bills and long-term savings. This system protects you from the shock of unexpected expenses without ignoring the need to save. Once you have this system in place, you’ll be ready next time your car battery dies or your disposal breaks. For now, just know that once both accounts are humming along, your money room looks neater every day.
It’s no surprise that many people need to look at their money more often. The fact is, Americans are notoriously bad at saving money. An April survey shows that just 47 percent of Americans say they have enough money to cover three months of expenses. Worse, about 40 percent of U.S. households wouldn’t even be able to cover a $400 emergency without using a credit card. Your new proactive approach will fundamentally shift the way you see your money.
With a few new mindsets and habits, you can really begin to see your money with clarity, confidence and compassion. You can dial down your reactivity by taking power of your money. The sooner you clear out the clutter of old attitudes, the sooner you will feel more in control of your money.
Want more? Watch my Five Ways to Adult with Your Money On-Demand Webinar
Lots of love,
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