I love a good budget template, money app, or savings tracker as much as the next money nerd. Still, there is another side to the financial discussion that’s easy to glaze over… and I’ll argue, extremely important.
The internet is full of how-to’s and listicles (including a few on my site). But what about the emotional stuff?
Money “stuff” that isn’t easily answered with a quick google search is often more important. The taboo side of money isn’t about how you budget or how much you save in retirement. It’s your money story, prejudices, and privilege.
It’s the uncomfortable side of money — that when confronted — truly expands your ability to become financially independent and achieve financial enlightenment.
(If you feel a little squirmy right now, you’re in the right place.)
Real money talk is
- What you preface with “do you mind me asking…?” over a glass of wine with a friend.
- What you ask in a private Facebook group where no one knows you in real life.
- Something I can’t tell you to fix in 3 quick steps. (But if I could, step 2 would blow your mind.)
It’s no secret, the easiest place to start when pulling your financial life together is with a budget — money in/money out. But once that’s in place, what’s to keep you motivated?
How will you react when things don’t go as planned? Or even scarier for some, what if they go too well?
Dark little money demons hang out inside each and every one of us. When you have the guts to share your fuzzy little friend, you help break down the fear of discussing feelings about money.
Why emotions in the financial discussion matter
Your thoughts and feelings are what motivate you to take action. It doesn’t matter what you know you should be doing, you won’t do it until you feel like it.
The coolest part about being a money coach is getting to hear other women’s money stories. When I first started, a few good friends volunteered to work with me. I wasn’t prepared for the transformation our friendship took once we discussed hard salary and debt numbers and then forecast that into future lifestyle goals.
Talking money is a bit like talking about sex; it’s weird and uncomfortable at first, but once you get the ball rolling, all barriers are lost. Money is never just about the numbers, there is no physical or mental way to separate your life from your finances.
You can have all the knowledge in the world about budgeting, because the concept on paper is easy, and never do anything with it. It’s not just making a plan. It’s having the mental will and perseverance to keep going even when you don’t want to.
Having a core group, or person, you can trust when talking about money (and your life) is vital.
Your Money Story
The way you treat your money has a lot to do with how your family treated money. Like the sponge you were, you absorbed every little detail of how they managed their finances.
Did your parents…
- hide purchases from each other?
- buy stuff to make up for lack of being present?
- have monthly money meetings?
- teach you the importance of saving a percentage of everything you earned?
Who helped you open your first bank account?
I bet you remember. Everything, including the good and the bad, has influenced how you think, act, and feel about wealth.
Here’s an actionable step for the day. I know I promised there wouldn’t be any, but I can’t help myself — take a moment to think about how your family treated money growing up. Do you treat money the same way? If you’ve never taken the time to think about this, you may not have acknowledged the influence your past has on this area of your life.
You have the choice to keep the good and ditch the bad, but it does take work. If it seems harder for you than others, that’s totally normal.
Finding your financial crew
Making friends as an adult is hard. Finding friends who are willing to speak openly and honestly about money can be even harder. If you already have a ride-or-die, hold onto them.
If you don’t, I have a few suggestions for finding that special someone.
- Seek out a financial therapist or counselor. My favorite financial therapist, Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, hosts Tne Mind Money Balance Podcast — listen here.
- Many hospital systems offer free financial counseling to employees through their benefits system.
- Join a money-focused Facebook group. I personally love the vibe of this women’s only group, Women’s Personal Finance (Women on Fire).
- Ask a group of your friends over for wine — let them know ahead of time you want to talk about money. Giving friends a heads up helps them get in the mood or allows those who aren’t jelling with the idea to bow out.
- Talk to your mom or another female matriarch in your family. I’ve had some surprising discussions with my mom about money. It’s eye-opening to chat about what I thought was going on as a kid versus reality.
Time and place for actionable advice
There is no right answer regarding when you should take action. You may be the type to think, “ewe fluffy money stuff,” or you might really crave getting in touch with your feelings. (I never thought I would have a need or a want to analyze the fluff, but here we are, and I’m preaching the stuffing.)
In my experience, we’re often a combination of practical steps and gooey interior. Most everyone starts with the how-tos and follow the steps like the loyal student they are. After all, we’re in the medical field, we’d be lost without our policies and procedures.
Once you get the hang of managing the numbers and a little bit of space starts to open up in your brain, that’s when the sneaky emotional stuff moves in. I find it’s best (and more fun) to bring your trusted group of confidants along for the ride. You need someone who can smack some sense into you when you veer from the course.
If managing wealth was easy, everyone would be living their best life. That’s why I recommend grabbing a glass of wine, a bestie, and throwing down barrier destroying money conversations.