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Most people, no matter where you are in life, tend to have some “emotional money baggage”. It could be debt that you are carrying around, guilt over a bad investment or no investments, over spending, or under-earning. Maybe you’ve hit a glass ceiling or even a brick wall. If money carries an emotional charge for you, in any of those areas or one of your own, there is something to be looked at and dealt with. Being able to put the emotional money baggage down and move on is crucial to taking your finances to the next level.
Here are a few quick tips to help you gain clarity and direction around money and drop the financial guilt.
Assess, Correct, Forgive and Move Forward
We have all made bad money decisions at one time or another; overspent on something major, lent money to someone that will never pay us back, made hasty ill-thought-out investments or somehow given away our power where finances are concerned. Carrying around feelings of guilt has a strange way of making us feel like a “good person”. (What kind of person wouldn’t feel guilty over a mistake, right?) But guilt keeps you tied to the person or situation and that keeps you stuck. A healthier approach is to take a look at the circumstances, figure out why you made the decision you did? Were you under stress? Were there external pressures? Did you have all the information you do now? Probably not. So forgive yourself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean just forgetting about it, but knowing that you did the best you could at the time. And even if you really think you didn’t, it’s done! Decide what you are going to do differently moving forward and get going! This one small step alone can be worth its weight in gold….literally.
Create Healthy Money Boundaries
Whenever you cave in around money issues, it’s usually out of misplaced hope, or worrying about someone else’s feelings more than your own. It could be not wanting to look foolish, or seem “cheap”, or simply not having the right information. But giving in inevitably erodes your financial confidence, which carries over into other areas of your financial life including, how you manage money and your earnings. It impacts your salary, your fees, the people you attract to do business with and how you deal with them when they show up. It helps to first have a solid financial plan; decide what’s appropriate for you around money right now. What will you do when you are feeling awkward or uncomfortable? How will you deal with cravings and impulses? And what about when you are feeling pressured or like you don’t have enough information? Take some time to relax, focus and put a plan in place when you are away from stressful financial situations. In moments of stress this gives you something to stick to. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but in the long run it will empower you and everyone you deal with.
It’s hard to create anything without being specific. For most of us it’s super easy to be specific when we are looking for a new home or apartment – we know exactly what we want, where we want it, what features and how much. This is how clear you should be with money. What exactly do you want money for? What kind of lifestyle? What’s important to you? How much for saving, investing and spending? Do you need to pay off any debt? How would you like this to look in one year? What about seven years? Take time to create a really clear financial picture, and then, just like for that new apartment or new home, you can start looking for ways to fulfill the dream.
Make A Plan
Now that you know how much money you want and exactly what you want it for, what needs to change? Do you need to bring in more money? To make and stick to a budget? To learn more about investments? Or to layout a debt repayment plan? Often times it’s a combination of at least two of the above, and each has steps of its own. Decide which areas are the most important for you right now and then delve into each one individually. If you need more information, research financial websites, listen to financial podcast or hire a money coach. We live in an amazing time for resources so utilize what you can.
Don’t Shrink and Keep Growing
One of the most common side effects of debt and financial guilt or shame is to shrink down to nothing. While getting your finances under control is definitely important, this shouldn’t stop you from living life with your head held high and shoulders back. There is a lot of debt-shaming going on in our society right now, and this is the equivalent of telling someone they are fat – to their face. You did your best, you’re more specific now, you’ve made a plan, so stick to it and move on. Make your financial health a priority. Learn a little bit each day and keep growing.
Money is here to serve you, not the other way around. No matter what happened in your past, you can absolutely make different choices today. So stop the self-loathing, shame and overwhelm around your finances, and open up to what’s possible.