Money Secrets: Changing The Pattern
Money is often a tough subject to discuss with others.
And, it got me thinking…secrets surrounding money are not reserved for couples only. They are all too common for many of us. Some of us feel pressure to “keep up” financially with our peers and so we are not honest with them about what we can and can’t afford. Some of us feel that talking about money is “rude”. Sometimes secrets are as simple as the shame that we feel over a past shopping splurge…that deep-down cringe that you feel when you recall that suede jacket that you charged to your card and then promptly ruined in the rain.
I wanted to talk a little bit about how we can eradicate feelings of shame or shortcoming that can surround our relationships with money. Because, and of this I am sure, feelings of regret or embarrassment cloud your ability to move forward financially. As long as you are dwelling in what makes you feel bad about money, you are unable to get yourself to a place where you feel good about money.
So, if you’re harboring secrets when it comes to money, I have a shame-busting, secret-stopping, regimen for you to consider employing as you work to heal your relationship with money.
Just Start Talking…Truthfully
Your friend wants to go Dutch on a pair of extravagant theatre tickets? Your significant other wants to go on a surprise vacation this month? (Because! Look at that deal!)
These are the moments that usually make us squirm. Try something for me, though. Next time you get asked for money that you were not planning (and cannot afford,) to spend – respond with an honest answer. Say no.
In fact, be more honest than that. Say: “I am so sorry, but I hadn’t planned for that this month,” or “If I had more warning, I could plan for that expense. But I can’t swing it on short notice.”
I know it sounds scary. After all, the unspoken social contract so often urges us to pretend that our wallet is bottomless and that we’re free to do anything we want. However, you will be SO SURPRISED to find that when you honestly tell your friend/child/partner that you cannot afford the splurge – they will understand. Moreover, they will likely chime in with a shared story about something that they want to do that they cannot afford.
Honesty begets honesty and we all have limitations. There is always a bottom line, for everyone. Your honesty will likely inspire your friends and acquaintances to speak candidly about money with you, too, which changes the entire dynamic. Make honesty your policy when talking about money and you will be surprised to find a new level of connection to share with your friends and peers – rather than the feelings of isolation that you might be expecting.
Begin a Real Relationship with Your Money.
Your relationship with money is no different than any other relationship in your life. If you want to have a strong, secret-free relationship, then you need to make it a priority. Be honest with it, make time for it, and respect it.
I have a girlfriend who is a very successful Executive, and she told me once, “Sometimes I think that I reject money. The second I get some, I immediately do everything I can to get rid of it. I pay every bill. I go shopping…it’s like I am not satisfied until it’s all gone.”
That was a light-bulb-over-the-head moment for me. Of course! That was exactly what she was doing! If she had treated her husband the same way she treated her money, then the relationship wouldn’t work.
The only way to begin a secret-free life with money, is to make time for your money the same way you would with any loved one. Engage with it. Take care of it. Treasure it.
Believe in Change
Too often money shame is exacerbated by the belief that you’ve “messed up,” and “there is no going back”.
That’s not true. And it never will be.
I love using the analogy of a flight of stairs. If you trip on the stairs as you’re descending them, do you try to catch yourself and right yourself? Or, do you just throw your body down the rest of the flight because you’ve messed up and there is no going back?
I hope, for your sake, that you chose the former of these two scenarios.
There is always an opportunity to catch yourself when you’re falling…to right what is wrong. And money is no different. What’s important is that you realize that the past is the past and you can absolutely move forward. Embrace change and the possibilities that the future holds…because the once you’ve let go of your bad feelings – shame and secrets – what once seemed impossible is suddenly more like I’M POSSIBLE! And with that simple change in perspective, real change can start.
Once you have let go of the things that scare you about money and you’ve realized that it’s never to late – you can start fresh. You can begin to plan for the unexpected and meet your obligations, alike. Whether a it’s a splurge or an unexpected expense that sneaks up, you will have the built up slush fund so that you can make money choices based on what you want for yourself and get out of the reactive space that can be so limiting! The choice will be yours and you’ll be living a secret-free life, full of financial flexibility and plenty of fab, too!