Last week’s post Money Changes Everything got a lot of attention. Comments, tweets – many of you wrote me directly to share your own personal fears around money.
I figure I hit a nerve.
Money is a hot button issue for a bunch of reasons, and we talked about some of them during the class. First, money is shrouded in secrecy. Remember when you were a kid? Did you know how much your dad made? Or how much your mom brought in? Did you know what your family’s mortgage payment was? Or how much it cost to load up the station wagon and drive to the Grand Canyon that long, hot summer?
Of course you didn’t.
One doesn’t talk about money.
And how did that set you up to handle your own money? Did you have knowledge, and experience, and a context for your own spending? Your savings? Your investing?
Did secrecy allow you to stand up and ask for money? No, I’m guessing it didn’t. Which is why you often find out too late that you are paid forty percent less than the guy in the cube right next to yours – and you do exactly the same work with the same result.
There’s also a ton of meaning assigned to money. Many of us think, “When I am paid $X, I will have it made.” But when we get paid $X, we still don’t have it made. It’s like the guy who thought plastic surgery would change his life. Truth? He had the same old troubles and worries – he just had a new face.
And we have so many ideas about money – ideas like, “Don’t keep your money in a bank. Banks cheat people like us.” Or, “Stocks and insurance are just for rich people.” Or, “My family has never had two nickels to rub together.”
The conflict comes in when we do have a bank account, stocks, insurance and a savings account. It’s pretty challenging to go up against all those beliefs people you love held dear.
But that’s exactly what you need to do to get your money mindset in order.
I love when people make big discoveries about themselves. That light bulb pops up over their head, there’s a gleam in their eye, they exhale three decades of stress out slowly – it’s a truly wonderful moment.
But there’s a step that comes after discovery. It’s asking yourself, “OK, now I get it. My ideas about banks are really my grandmother’s ideas about banks. What do I want my own idea about banks to be?“
To set yourself free, you have to own your own ideas, born of your own experiences.
So if you want the secrecy to stop, stop it. Sit down with your kids and go over a budget – with income and expenses. Tell them there are some things a family shares with each other, and that you trust them enough to share something important. How do you think that will set them up to be successful, independent, financially secure adults?
Pretty well, I’m thinking.
And meaning? To tell you the truth, whatever you think you’ll do when you “have it made” – you can do right now. Want to be in a position to give back? Donate blood. Officiate a softball game. Mentor a kid. Want to relax and be less worried about money? Take charge of your finances. Completely understand where you’re spending and decide to do it in a way that brings out the best in you. Want to have stuff you love? Love the stuff you have.
When you take care of your financial health, you will have it made. Because you’ll feel better about yourself and your life.
Which is the whole point.