Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had the occasion to talk to lots of people about what it is exactly that keeps them from wanting to talk about their money, and in particular what it is that holds them back from stepping forward to once and for all learn how to proactively manage their money.
What I found out didn’t necessarily surprise me since I’ve been clear for a while now on what gets in the way of people choosing to financially empower themselves, however I was once again surprised by how what I shared with people seemed surprising to them. It was as if a light bulb went off in their head!
Here are the top 3 challenges that I find people struggle with when it comes to even raising their hands to ask for help when it comes to their money:
1) “I’m the only one who doesn’t understand money” – If I had a bullhorn and could walk around everyday life this is the #1 money misunderstanding that I would talk about so that people would understand that they are NOT the only ones who didn’t get the “money memo”!! (Alas, with someone as opinionated and vocal as I am it’s probably best not to give me a bullhorn!) The statistics are staggering – approximately 70% of people live paycheck to paycheck, which means they likely don’t have any savings and they may be managing large amounts of debt as well. Also, a new statistic I heard the other day said that a recent survey indicated 76% of people feel out of control when it comes to their finances (LearnVest, 2011). So in essence, about ¾ of people are not at all comfortable or in control when it comes to using their money to their best advantage. Does that still make you feel alone about not understanding money? I hope it helps you to understand that if you don’t understand money that you are actually in the majority.
2) “I’m embarrassed/ashamed/guilty that I don’t understand more about my money than I do” – This is a subset of #1 above, and has people feeling that they should know more about money management. But here’s what I have to say to that – if you were never taught how to manage your money in the first place, why should you know how to do it? It’s not taught in our schools, and overall it’s a systemic issue that most adults don’t know how to manage money. I didn’t learn until I went to college that how I grew up (with parents who taught me how to manage money) wasn’t the norm (and in fact it was anything but the norm). I tell people just to let themselves off the hook…if they never learned how to manage money in the first place, simply acknowledge that and ask for help to learn how to be intentional and proactive with your cash flow. End the guilt and shame today and move forward, making sure to be compassionate with yourself about your financial past.
3) “Managing my money will be too hard/will take too much time” – My typical client tends to be a real go-getter who is focused on their careers and their families and living an active lifestyle. While that’s great (and I live actively as well), that means they have limited time to manage their money so they need a quick system that is effective and is streamlined to be used in their rapid-paced life. What I find sad about this is that people tend to say “I make good money, so at the end of the day while I could be doing better I’m doing ok and it’s not too bad – managing money is hard and takes a lot of time.” It’s not too bad? Is that what we’ve come to accept in our lives…that it’s ok just for things to be “not too bad”? How about we start thinking about each aspect of our lives and reevaluating just how awesome we can have things be? With respect to your finances, after an initial investment of time to understand where you are and where you want to go, you can easily set up streamlined systems to joyfully use money on things that matter to you while saving money and getting out of debt. I promise, it does not need to be hard and it can be simple and efficient (and yes, even fun!) if you’re willing to do the initial work to put together a solid financial plan and then actually work that same plan.
So while I’ve been known to help deflate the seriousness and stress that is typically associated with money and finance, I do take my work very seriously when it comes to helping people remove the roadblocks to financial freedom and financial independence. I can help you when/if we have a chance to interact, however I don’t always get to meet everyone in person (or by phone), so how will you help yourself to get out of your own way and move toward a financially empowered future today?