Our clients are wonderful, unique people. Many of them find that they are struggling with their finances and with how they relate to their financial situation. And though it plays out differently in each person’s life, I’ve noticed they often group themselves together. Maybe you recognize yourself in one (or more) of the categories below.
Some of our clients don’t know how much money they have or how much they’re going to need to cover expenses until the bills arrive. If they are entrepreneurs, they often mix their personal and business expenses, taking money from one to cover the other, and aren’t sure what it all looks like until tax time. Others say that as soon as money comes into their lives, an emergency happens to take it all away, such as an unexpected car repair, and they can never get ahead. Still other clients have goals that are so unrealistic that they become frustrated and beat themselves up because they can’t meet those lofty goals. Other clients are convinced that a windfall will come any day now. They’ll win the lottery or an unknown relative will leave them a great inheritance or they’ll find buried treasure in the walls of their house, and it will take away all their financial woes. Some of our clients tell us they don’t look at their bank statements from month to month, and many don’t have a budget. It’s difficult to make a plan about spending, saving, and investing if you don’t know what you’re working with.
Your relationship with your money is a process of ongoing experiments. If you avoid looking at your finances as much as possible, what in-between measure can you take today that won’t blow your fuses like jumping into a strict budget plan right away would? Do you want to start saving for retirement that’s coming in 5 years or simply live within your means right now? Do you want to have more money coming in or less going out (or both)? Design your ultimate goal while understanding that it may take some time and practice to get there, and you may also need to create some realistic interim goals along the way. Find out what your best steps are to move you into a different relationship with your money. Changing your relationship with money isn’t something you can do overnight or you would have already done it overnight. Remember, too, that you might take a few steps back at the same time as you are moving forward, and sometimes it won’t feel like you’ve moved much at all.
Don’t give up. If you have a goal that isn’t working, you can always adjust the goal or the timeline you hope to accomplish it by. Sometimes we create goals that simply aren’t authentic to what we need in our lives. Additionally, circumstances in our lives change, and often that means we have to change our expectations along with them. If this is happening, go back to the beginning and start again. A bad week, a bad month, or even a bad year can really be discouraging, but you can always begin again wherever you left off. No one other than you is keeping score.
Seek out professionals to help you create goals that will work for you and to keep you accountable to staying on track. A coach can help you better define the beliefs you are trying to change and the things in your life that are getting in the way of you setting or reaching your goals. A coach can also help you see your blind spots and how you work with others when you encounter uncomfortable financial situations. A financial planner can help you determine if your goals are realistic and help you decide the best path to reach your financial goals, and may have products to help you reach those goals. Managing your finances instead of allowing them to manage you will give you peace of mind and allow you to take better care of yourself.