By Melissa Tosetti
We’re taught NOT to talk about money.
We’re taught that talking about money is impolite. That it’s gauche.
Unfortunately, this “training” of manners can make us feel that we are the only ones struggling with our finances. This can create a paralyzing embarrassment preventing us from seeking help.
Compounding the issue is a handful of personal finance experts that are known for scolding their audiences for the situations they’re in or the questions they ask.
Over the years of working with clients to create Spending Plans and then teaching them how to live within their plans, I’ve heard again and again how they previously felt they were the only ones struggling. They felt embarrassed about their situation and hopeless as they slipped further and further.
Very early on in my work with clients, I was hired by a doctor in Minnesota. He was warm, engaging and obviously very intelligent. However, he was overwhelmed by his finances. It wasn’t until our third meeting that he told me he had two 10 gallon garbage bags of bills, notices and other financial documents that he called his “bags of shame”. While he wasn’t destitute or criminally in arears, he was balancing on the edge of just staying afloat of the bills, but drowning in the documentation. My heart shattered when he made that statement – bags of shame.
It took some time, but little by little, in short increments so as not to get overwhelmed, he sorted through the documents. The interesting thing in his particular situation is that the majority of the papers were just old bills and innocent papers. But, because he was overwhelmed by his financial situation as a whole, he assumed that anything that even looked like a bill was threatening.
Sometimes we think we just need to make more money, but if you don’t have money skills, it doesn’t matter how much. Money will always be a problem.
If this topic resonates with you, how do you get out of the paralysis and take action? For most people, it’s a matter of creating money skills. Of giving yourself an education on day-to-day finances.
While there is no shortage of articles, books and resources on the topic of personal finance, it can be challenging to know where to even start. Also, depending on your situation, it can feel overwhelming, furthering the paralysis. For these particular situations, we’ve had tremendous success in having clients start with baby steps.
The first step is to decide what it is that you want to focus on first. If it’s to pay down credit card debt, then focus on learning about that first and put it into play. If it’s tracking your spending, then focus on that first. Don’t try to do everything at once because it can become too overwhelming to manage and then nothing will get done.
If you still feel paralyzed, and are interested in one-on-one help, there are several ways we work with clients to help them gain control of their finances. You can see a list of our services by clicking here: Spending Plans.
If you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation, you can do that by clicking here: Schedule Call.