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A 3-Step Solution to Combat Money Management Avoidance

After more than a decade of helping people with their finances, I’ve noticed a pattern:

People get stuck financially or never quite feel like they’re in charge of their money for a reason.

And that reason shows up repeatedly.

Sure, there may be other factors at play – like mindset blocks and a lack of certain financial literacy skills – but often it’s much simpler than that.

It’s about showing up and doing the groundwork consistently.

More specifics on that in a sec, but first, a story.

 

The dance diva

When one of my daughters was quite young, she decided she wanted to be dancer.

She’d seen people do ah-mazing dance moves in videos and movies, wearing the coolest outfits, and she decided that she wanted that for herself.  💃

So we signed her up for lessons.

We spent who knows how much time and money kitting her out with a body suit, jazz shoes, ballet slippers, leggings – the whole nine yards.

The excitement lasted until Christmas, when my DD was certain the holiday recital would feature an elaborate routine and solos.

Oh the let down!

The kids had been dancing for less than four months, so of course the routine was a simple one that showed off some of the basic steps they were working on.

There was fun music and an atmosphere of celebration. The parents loved it.

My daughter? Not at all.

{Cue imminent disaster music.}

Still, there was hope for the year end recital. That would be waaaaay more exciting, right?

Nope. More of the same, except with a cute dance costume and wind tunnel-tested hair this time.

In the lead-up to the recital, the teachers still focused on the basics.

And that’s when my daughter decided that dancing was dead to her.

Too tedious. Too much repetition. Not enough excitement and fancy-pants moves from the get-go.

She lasted one more year because we insisted that she stick with it for a bit. By the end of the second year, though, the beautiful relationship was over despite our attempts to point out that you need to master and maintain the basics before you can even get to the exciting bits.

Buh-bye dancing diva.

Sound familiar?

Consistency & your finances

One of the non-negotiables in reaching financial freedom is that you have to get involved, and stay involved, in managing your money.

That means:

  • tracking your expenses on a regular basis – as in weekly or monthly
  • reviewing your spending to ensure that it’s in line with the things you value
  • creating goals and checking in regularly to stay on track
  • hitting the pause button with spending when you’re not hitting your savings and/or investment targets
  • figuring out what’s going on if you spot patterns that don’t serve you

One hundred percent of the financial problems I’ve helped people deal with happened in the absence of one of the above points. 💯

If you track but you don’t review, you may not hit your targets.

If you don’t track, you will not achieve your goals.

No targets? No happy outcomes down the road.

Creating financial security first, then financial independence, requires oversight, review, and intentionality.

You achieve those by creating a regular, recurring date with your finances.

 

3-Step Solution

One of the complaints I hear is that managing money is boring.

I hear you; it can be. But that’s not an excuse not to do it.

If you have an on-again-off-again relationship with tracking and money management for whatever reason, you’re definitely not alone. It’s a common challenge.

Here’s my 3-Step Solution to combat money management avoidance:

  1. Manage expectations and reframe.
  2. Create a Money Ritual
  3. Celebrate small wins every week

 

#1 – Manage Expectations

Sometimes my clients are taken aback when they tell me that they don’t feel like managing their money and I say, “And? What did you expect?”

Money is emotional, particularly if it’s something that you’ve been avoiding dealing with. Creating a new habit is going to take some getting used to. It’s not likely to be a rip-roaring great time right out of the gate.

Manage your expectations and keep an open mind.

What if you told yourself that you may not enjoy laying down this new habit at first, but that you’re open to becoming comfortable and happy with it over time?

What if you said to yourself that it’s OK to feel grumpy about doing the work at first, but it’s not OK to avoid it because of those feelings?

Feel the emotion, label it, and do the work anyway.

You might just surprise yourself.

Four years ago, I started working with Ann P. She was in the process of leaving an abusive marriage and dealing with the totality of her finances for the first time. It was a struggle at first. But then, she joined my monthly women’s group and eventually sent me this note:

“One of the things that has changed for me since joining the [Women’s Financial Freedom Group] is that I LOVE managing my finances now. Really, truly enjoy it!”

Reframe the way you think about the work as well as your feelings.

 

#2 – Create a Money Ritual

Managing your money every week doesn’t have to be boring!

Make it a ritual by incorporating things you love:

  • Choose a spot that has beautiful lighting or large windows. It feels good to work with the sun on your face or a beautiful view to inspire you.
  • Frame a print of one of your most cherished goals and set it up on the table in front of you as you work on your finances. Maybe a pic of the place you want to visit, or an experience you want to have, or a credit card statement with a zero balance (you can mock that up). Get creative here with whatever inspires you!
  • Add a photo of your “why” to the mix. Just imagine what a financially free you could do for the people or causes you love most! Use that as inspiration to keep you going through the hard bits.
  • Make your favorite cup of tea or coffee or whatever you enjoy. (Just a caution with wine or other forms of alcohol. I lovelovelove red wine, but if I have important financial decisions to make, alcohol does not enhance the executive functions in my brain! Maybe save the glass for the celebration afterwards. 😉)
  • Light some candles or put on some music that puts you in a good mood.
  • If you have young kids, find a time where you can work uninterrupted. Hire a sitter if need be. You need time to concentrate on your finances. As much as we love our kids and furry family members, they can be a big distraction! Your Money Ritual calls for focus time.

 

Here’s the most important step, though: Create a recurring event in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.

If you choose Wednesdays at 7:30 pm and it’s Wednesday at 7:30 pm, then you are sitting in your Money Ritual spot working on your finances, even if it’s a beautiful day and your BFF has invited you out into the sunshine.

You owe it to yourself and your future to keep your date with your finances.

 

#3 – Celebrate Small Wins

One of the ways to stay engaged and motivated when it comes to financial goals is to celebrate the small steps forward you’ve taken.

I’m not talking about rewarding perfection. I have no interest in perfection. As far as I’m concerned, perfection is the killer of dreams.

I’m talking about rewarding progress.

If you said you were going to call your bank to get some more details about your mortgage and you did it, celebrate that! ⭐

If you took the time to automate an extra $25 toward your Visa bill every month, celebrate that! ⭐

Each and every step you took, whether it led to the results you wanted or not, is worthy of celebration.

Be sure to document these Points of Progress in your journal so that several months from now, you can look back and be amazed at how much you accomplished.

I can’t tell you how often I hear from women who say to me, “I took your advice and started documenting my progress. I thought I hadn’t accomplished much of anything in the last three months, but when I looked back at my journal, I was shocked by how much I got done!”

Yes!

And there you have it my friend – a simple, 3-step solution to help you overcome money management avoidance.

All you have to do is agree to show up, week in and week out, whether you feel like it or not.

Because feeling follows action, not the other way around.

You’ve got this. 🙌

Much love,

Doris

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