Tag Archives | money

Being a Financial Victim Won’t Get You Very Far…

“My ex screwed me in the divorce and I’ll never recover.”

“Money’s so hard to understand that I’m not even going to bother to try.”

“My parents never taught me about money growing up and now I’ll never catch up.”

Sometimes this is what being a financial victim sounds like. This isn’t a judgment on my part whatsoever, it’s simply some of the ways I’ve experienced people avoiding taking accountability and ownership in a powerful way.

For me, being a victim (related to money or otherwise) is accepting your fate as it is and taking the position that there’s nothing you can do about it. And often times it involves pointing a solid finger at someone (or something) else as being responsible for things and not accepting any impact on the outcome.

For a more formal definition, the dictionary defines “victim” as: “one who is harmed by or made to suffer under a circumstance or condition.

(Not sure about you, but I particularly enjoy the part of the definition where someone is “made to” suffer. Don’t get me wrong, there may be occasions in life when someone is holding you against your will to do something, although thankfully I find those situations are few and far between!)

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself “well in the situation of the ex, it’s entirely possible that the other person did get screwed over, I’ve seen it happen.

And I can certainly understand this point of view, and it’s likely that many others would feel similarly. But let’s see if we can take a different look at this that would support taking accountability for the situation, shall we?

And before we do that, let’s define accountable: “capable of being accounted for, explainable.

In the situation where someone is left with less than positive feelings about their ex after a divorce, it can be easy to slip into a place of blame and pointing the finger, particularly if you’re feeling like you’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to money. However, staying in that negative energy is unlikely going to support you in moving forward with your life, whether in general or specifically with respect to your finances.

What I propose is this – that if you’re feeling like something is all someone else’s fault, that you stop and take some time to be honest with yourself about the entirety of the situation and your role in it. View the situation with the lens of “what part could I have done differently to create different results?” This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up about what happened, it’s merely a chance to neutrally step back and see if there is something that you can do differently going forward. It’s as if you’re willing to learn from the situation and be accountable for whatever your contributions were, even if they were small ones.

Ultimately, it is only when we are willing to be accountable for ourselves that we can access the freedom to live our lives from a place of ownership and choice. Because without a willingness to be accountable (and yes, sometimes this means looking at the not-so-fun parts of ourselves), we leave our power in the hands of others instead of using it to grow and take charge of our lives.

It may not always be fun to look at things through the lens of accountability, and I understand that. All I can share is that my clients who are willing to do so are infinitely much more successful than the ones who don’t. They ultimately decide to let go of the finger pointing and blame (even though it feels really good sometimes), and create results anew in the present instead of being stuck in the past.

The journey to financial health is an ever-winding road, and shifting to a more accountable mentality is a powerful and significant way to forever alter your relationship with money for the better!

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Putting Lipstick on a Pig Isn’t Very Effective!

Transformation vs. change — if you look these words up in the dictionary, you’ll actually get somewhat similar definitions, however as I explore in my own life and work more and more with clients, I’m finding that there is a very important difference in these words.

Transformation (noun): A complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc.

Change (verb): To become different; to make (someone or something) different; to become something else.

(As you can see, even the word “change” is used in the dictionary definition of transformation itself!)

In my understanding and interpretation of these two words, it’s almost as if “change” is about having things be more, better, and different as opposed to transformation which is about a fundamental shift in thoughts, beliefs, actions and results in our lives. Almost as if to “change” is to build on top of what already exists, whereas transformation is more comprehensive in the sense that it includes reexamining our underlying thoughts and beliefs that have generated our past actions and results in order to make new choices to generate new thoughts and beliefs, and thus new actions and results.

Let’s see if an example will support in clarifying the difference between the 2 words (yes, this is where you get to learn about putting lipstick on a pig!). If we were being honest, a pig doesn’t necessarily have a reputation as an incredibly attractive and clean animal, does it? Nope, it doesn’t. (Sorry little piggies…I’m sure you’re sweet.)

So, if we put lipstick on a pig, it could be perceived that we were trying to dress up the pig to change its appearance and have it feel more beautiful or to look better. Yet what happens if deep down inside the pig doesn’t think or belief that it’s beautiful? At this point, you will have changed its appearance on the outside, however will the pig truly have an experience of transforming into something beautiful? Will it truly believe it is beautiful and act accordingly? It’s unlikely since the pig may have underlying thoughts and beliefs based on what others have told it that it isn’t beautiful; so regardless of the outside change in appearance, the thoughts and beliefs won’t have changed which will mean the pig will keep taking actions and creating results consistent with the belief that it isn’t beautiful.

While this is a dramatic example, I hope it makes the key point here. You can make an attempt to change something by making it “more, better, or different”, yet if you don’t address the thoughts and beliefs under the surface that are having you take action that creates results, you’re only glossing up the outside surface instead of creating lasting transformation.

I’ve seen this time and time again with my clients as well, so I’ll close with an example from a client (and good friend) several years ago. This friend wanted my support with understanding her finances better and learning positive financial routines and habits to help her begin stabilizing her financial situation while paying down her debt and increasing her savings. I was enrolled in supporting her to do that, however I was aware that she had an underlying belief that she wasn’t good at math or money. So I could try to support her in changing the way she approached her finances (I knew the techniques and mechanics of proactive money management), however she was unlikely to actually be able to transform how she handled money if she didn’t address the thought/belief that she wasn’t good at math or money. It was only once we acknowledged that belief and spent some time to shift it to something more positive that she was able to absorb and implement what I taught her in terms of money systems and processes to create financial stability for herself.

So, based on this distinction what do you choose – transformation or change?

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Financial Infidelity: Are you keeping financial secrets in your relationships?

I could sit here and quote statistics all day long about how money is the #1 reason for divorce. I won’t bore you with that, however we all know just how true that is, don’t we?

Money is serious business sometimes. When one person is challenged by money management, that’s one thing. Add two people into the equation with different approaches to managing money and different upbringings and experiences with money, and you’ve got yourself a witch’s brew bubbling over that’s potentially a ripe environment for keeping secrets.

Financial infidelity can show up in many different ways and it can slowly and quietly tear at the fabric of trust in any relationship (husband and wife, parent and child, sibling to sibling, best friend to best friend. etc.), however for today I’m going to focus primarily on how it can impact your relationship with your significant other. It’s a dicey subject, and not a lot of people want to talk about it (and most people certainly don’t want to hear about it). However, it keeps coming up in the course of the conversations I have with my clients and also when I speak with couples about money in relationships. And I feel that if I don’t take responsibility for shining some light on it, it may significantly impact your relationships before you know it. So I’m diving in…head first.

It starts with just a small white lie or “untruth” (my made-up word for when you’re not sharing the whole truth), never intending to hurt anyone. Someone loans you money for an intended purpose, and you use it for something completely different. You buy new clothes or a new gadget and when your significant other asks “is that new?” you say “oh, this old thing?” There’s a separate bank account that you keep and your beloved doesn’t know that you keep it. You can’t seem to get on the same page with your spouse about how to use the money, you’re tired of fighting about it, and so you throw up your hands and simply just do whatever you want to. It may be even be so bad that you unconsciously (or perhaps consciously) give your significant other the “financial middle finger” just to get back at them because they ticked you off somehow and didn’t agree with something you wanted to do financially. OUCH.

I’ve personally heard every single one of these scenarios (and more) with either my private clients or from people with whom I’ve had a “money confessional” moment. It doesn’t have to be this way if you’re committed to having authentic and truthful conversations about money with your loved ones. Trust me, I’m not saying it’s an easy feat to have those types of conversations…I’m simply saying that it’s worth it to have those types of conversations. Honest and open financial conversations can change your relationships with your loved ones forever, and the added bonus is that they strengthen your financial foundation too!

So how do you start to heal your relationship(s) if you sense that financial infidelity is an uninvited house guest? There are 3 steps that I would suggest you start with to begin to weed financial infidelity out of your life:

1)  Be honest with yourself

There’s an old saying that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Before you start to think about what your significant other might be doing to impact the level of financial authenticity in your relationship, look inward to see what you might be doing that isn’t on the “up and up” and could be considered hurtful if your significant other found out about it. How are you behaving with money that if your spouse/significant other found out about they would be hurt by or upset about? What might you be embarrassed about if someone found out about it? While I’m a huge fan of financial independence and creating your own financial rules (even if you’re in a relationship, you don’t have to always 100% agree with each other on how to handle the money), it’s always best to be up front and honest about your thoughts and approaches when it comes to financial matters. So start with being honest with yourself, and see if you’re contributing in any way to having financial secrets in your relationship.


I can’t stress this one enough (were the capital letters a good indicator of that one for you?). This is the really, really brave step. It’s time to step forward with your loved one, and let them know that you want to have a really honest conversation about money and how you can be doing things better…together. Share what you learned about yourself and your money habits when you were honest with yourself (yes, it’s time for a confessional). Ask them for their opinion on what they think you could be doing better, what they could be doing better, and what you could both be doing better together when it comes to being proactive with your money and designing a financial plan to support your life. (Don’t forget to breathe, OK?) Sometimes this can be scary stuff, but if you ask the challenging questions and then step back and really listen to what your other half has to say you might be surprised at what you hear. Make sure you respectfully give them the space to speak their peace, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying when they say it. Be inquisitive, ask questions when they say something that you don’t agree with or understand. It’s amazing what can happen when you genuinely sit down with the intention to listen and hear out the person in front of you. Put yourself in the shoes of your loved ones, and do your best to compassionately hear another person’s perspective!

3) Get on the same page

Once you have been honest with yourself, and taken the time to understand the perspective of your loved one, you’re ready to think about getting on the same page with him/her. Let me be clear, this does not always have to mean that you have to compromise about everything – it just means that you have both decided that it’s time to put everything out on the open in terms of your goals and what you want your life to look like going forward. No more secrets. Dream big together. Once you have goals, you can then incorporate them into a financial plan that will support achieving those goals by budgeting and saving money in advance! Being ahead of the “financial 8-ball” allows you to strengthen your financial foundation, and thus the foundation of your relationship.

I never said this would be easy, and I hope that you’re still breathing at this point (if you’re not, please start again….deep breaths in and out, in and out). I know this can be hard to look at, yet I know from having worked with many couples that when you tackle the big elephant in the room and address financial secrets head on that it only serves to strengthen your relationship for the better. The communication grows, the trust grows, and the love grows.

So if there’s any chance that financial infidelity may be impacting your relationship, is it worth it to you to think about beginning to repair the tiny tears of trust that may ultimately lead to a large crack in the foundation of your happiness? Only you can answer that question for yourself.

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