Why is it that so many smart, capable women end up feeling stuck financially?
Take Marley, for example. She’s an educated professional who can never seem to find a job that is both satisfying and financially rewarding. Either she loves her job, but gets paid peanuts, or she’s doing exhausting work that pays well, but drains her. When she finally landed the one job that seemed to have it all for her, the company laid her off. There were good reasons for the layoff, but still, the dream job was gone.
Or Samantha, a highly educated business owner with an impressive list of skills, who can’t seem to earn enough to give her peace of mind. Every month is a struggle. She keeps attracting customers who have no budget and insist on discounts, yet ask for extras.
Then there’s Justine, a 40-something go-getter. She has earned enough money to achieve financial freedom, but she can’t seem to hold on to it. She gets the fundamentals of managing money, so how come money constantly disappears?
These women are all from different backgrounds and they work in different industries, but the one thing they have in common, apart from being smart and capable is this: they have money mindset challenges.
You know you have it when…
Money mindset challenges don’t exactly announce themselves in the same way that a sore back does, so they can be hard to spot unless you’re paying attention.
Here’s the good thing about them though: they leave clues.
If there’s a financial goal that eludes you, it’s worth slowing down the crazy train of life and taking some time to reflect on what’s going on.
I’m going to share four signs that I’ve noticed in my clients’ stories over the many years that I’ve been helping women solve financial challenges.
Before I do that though, I want to emphasize why understanding this stuff is so important. It boils down to this:
The way to achieve money mastery first, then financial freedom, is to develop a growth and abundance mindset, and create a simple, values-based money system with evidence-based investments.
Notice what I mentioned first – a growth and abundance mindset. Becoming financially strong and achieving your important goals isn’t just about managing and investing your money; it’s about getting your mindset on track.
In my last post, I talked about the Two Money Tracks: the Mindset Track, which is essentially about feelings and beliefs; and the Methods Track, which is about making, managing, and multiplying your money.
Both tracks are essential to achieving your financial goals.
Just ask Marley, Samantha, and Justine. Sure, they made improvements to the way they manage their money by creating a values-based system, but they would still be stuck today if they weren’t working on their mindset challenges as well.
Here are a four signs to watch out for.
#1 – You procrastinate on important financial tasks
If there is an item on your financial to-do list that keeps showing up, week after week, that could be a red flag.
Here are some examples of what that can look like:
- Intending to call the bank to talk about the mortgage renewal, but putting it off until it’s too late and being stuck with the rate on the renewal form, which is not competitive.
- Not getting around to calling for car and house insurance quotes after receiving a renewal notice saying the existing policy is increasing by 32%. When the policy automatically renews, it seems like too much of a pain to pursue. You promise to do it next year.
- Setting a calendar reminder to pull up credit card statements to figure out why the balance is going up, but it just never seems like the right time. You’re too busy. You’ll get around to it soon.
- Putting off tracking your spending for the month because the weather is finally nice and you want to take advantage of it to get outside. You’ll get to it later.
I get that life happens and there are certainly moments when tasks have to be rescheduled. But if the task keeps getting shifted to “later”, it’s a sign that there is something else at play.
It’s time to ask my favorite questions: “Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why this is happening?”
#2 – You flat-out avoid certain tasks
Avoidance is procrastination on steroids. It’s not that you’re putting off a task; it’s that you’re not even acknowledging it. You want it out of sight and certainly out of mind.
Statements? What statements?
When they’re tucked away in a drawer, they don’t exist.
If I had to pick just one area in personal finance where women display avoidant behavior it would be with investing. It’s not even a close competition.
This is where you find unopened statements stashed on shelves among books, knickknacks, and photos.
Or appointments with financial advisors where there is complete abdication for decision-making and oversight. Either the spouse takes over or the advisor does.
I’ve also seen avoidance when it comes to debt and spending. It’s far more comfortable to sweep the issue under the rug than to shine a light on it.
If there’s an area in your finances that you are avoiding completely, that’s a neon sign right there that there is something to see here. This is a great place to start asking questions.
Will it be hard? Yes; you’re avoiding it for a reason.
Will it be worth your while? 100%!
Start by asking my favorite questions: “Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why I’m doing that?” – or some variation of the latter question – and see what you come up with.
#3 – You have patterns of behavior or outcomes that don’t serve you
If there’s a part of your life that feels like your own version of Groundhog Day, that’s a sign that you may have a money mindset challenge.
Marley, Samantha, and Justine all had these.
Marley kept finding herself in jobs that only provided 50% of the benefits she was looking for. When the job paid well, she hated the work. When she loved the work, she didn’t earn enough to be able to keep the work for long. When the perfect job landed in her lap, it “disappeared” months later.
Isn’t that interesting?
Samantha kept attracting customers that couldn’t afford her services and who were demanding to work with. When I first started to work with her, she did not have a single ideal client in the mix.
Isn’t that interesting?
Justine made a heap of cash, but spent it just as quickly, even when she wasn’t trying to spend. When I asked her why she thought this kept happening to her, she shrugged, “I guess I’m just not good with money.”
Interesting – and not true.
Can you spot any patterns in your finances? Recurring debt? Underearning? Perpetual overwork? Overspending? Never quite finding the right job, clients, or contracts?
Where there’s a pattern, there’s a mindset challenge. Ask my favorite questions and see if you can find the belief or the emotion behind the patterns.
#4 – Parts of your finances trigger emotional reactions
Anger, stress, fear, frustration, shame, embarrassment, anxiety – these make up the emotional stew that can bubble up when dealing with money.
A relative asks why you spent $150 on yet another Amazon purchase, remarking that you seem to be spending a lot of money these days, and you immediately pop into defensive mode.
You’re working at your computer and an email from your credit card company pops into your inbox to remind you about an upcoming payment deadline, and suddenly you feel stressed.
The car starts to make a funny noise on the way to the grocery store and you realize you’re going to have to bring it in for more repairs. When you get home, you snap at your kids. For some reason, you’re mad.
You look at the pile of statements accumulating on the dining room table and you feel anxious. Why won’t you open the damn things, you wonder?
Friends reach out and ask if you want to rent a cottage together later in the summer. You make an excuse about how you can’t swing it because of work; maybe next year. After you hit “Send”, you stare at the screen, angry and embarrassed that you can’t afford it at your age.
These are all examples I’ve heard from clients about life experiences that triggered emotional reactions. Here’s what I’ve learned after years of working on mindset issues: Behind those emotions are limiting beliefs – about yourself, about your world, about your capability, about your worthiness, about what’s possible for you.
If any of the above resonates for you, there is a way out. It starts with understanding what’s going on for you when you encounter the procrastination, avoidance, patterns, or emotional reactions.
Start by asking these simple questions:
- Isn’t that interesting? This question takes a researcher’s approach that is clearly about understanding rather than judgement. I have a hard rule when dealing with any aspect of your finances, but particularly when you’re working on your mindset: No shame, no blame, no judgement. Seek understanding; that’s it.
- Next ask, “I wonder what’s going on?” Or, “I wonder why I do that?” Or, “I wonder why I feel that way?”
I have helped countless women work past mindset blocks by starting with these simple questions. There is magic in taking this approach.
Give it a try for any areas where you suspect there’s a mindset challenge at play and see what you come up with.
I’d love to hear your insights. Please share them below.
Until next time, happy mindset sleuthing!
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