The first few months of the year are often used as the time to reflect on the previous year and set goals and intentions for the current one. It’s a good time to pause and make any desired changes. If you’re very lucky, you feel completely equipped to pursue these goals on your own. But if you’re like most of us, you’ll find that you need support along the way. As my friend, Jess Lyons, said to me recently: “If I learned anything last year, it is that the work I want to do does not happen alone. Co-creation is where it’s at.”
And it’s so true! It’s easy to think that we have to go after what we want on our own. We live in an individualist culture. But we can and should lean on each other in order to reach our goals. Otherwise, we’ll end up exhausted, and we’ll feel alone. That’s no way to live, and it won’t result in satisfying success. So! If you’re hoping to take strides in your financial life this year, you might need the support of a coach. If you struggle with any of the issues I list below, you may need some extra guidance.
1. You Avoid Your Money
Have you ever tossed bills to the side, left unopened for days, weeks, months? Do you avoid looking at your bank statement like it’s the plague? Do you know that you have debt, but don’t know how much, because you’re afraid to look at it?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you likely use avoidance as a coping mechanism when it comes to money. There is nothing to be ashamed of; we all cope in different ways. But ignoring something, even for months, does not actually make it go away. This is especially true with money. In fact, avoiding your finances can lead to interest charges, late fees, and even bills sent to collections.
If this is your go-to response to money problems, it’s probably hard for you to change it yourself. You may need the accountability and nudging from an outside partner to help you face things.
2. You Feel Ashamed of Your Finances
It’s easy to equate net worth with self-worth. It’s a major conflation in our society. “Poor people must have some kind of moral failing and rich people must be inherently deserving.” We see this play out in our politics every day. But it’s not right, and it’s not true.
However, being inundated with these messages from a young age makes it hard to shake off the shame. And shame leads to paralysis and isolation. The more ashamed you feel, the less likely you are to take positive action. You’re also less likely to ask for help when you need it. So you end up trapped in a cycle where you’re ashamed of your financial situation, but you’re unable to make any changes. In fact, the more ashamed you are, the worse your finances may become.
Does this resonate with you? If it does, you probably could use some outside support. It helps to have an objective person there to question your beliefs and help you feel better about yourself.
3. You Spend Money to Deal with Your Emotions
This is so, so common. Many (most?) of us turn to spending in order to fill a void or cope with a negative emotion. We even spend money to celebrate a positive emotion. Hell, this is how brands advertise to us every single day. “Treat yourself!” This coping mechanism is not inherently bad! And I’m definitely not poo-pooing all celebration or self-care that involves spending money.
However, this coping mechanism can become a crutch that leads to overspending, and ultimately, debt. It’s important to find ways of self-soothing that don’t feed into bad habits or result in financial problems. With a financial coach, you can explore the deeper causes of your overspending. You can bring these issues to light and come up with new, more productive, ways to cope with them.
4. You Don’t Know What Your Goals Are
It’s okay to not know what you want to achieve. In fact, I think the beginning of the year can be tough for those of us who are unclear about our future and our desires. We see people all around us making resolutions and setting big goals, so it’s natural to feel confused and left out. Most of us were not born knowing exactly what we want to do in life, even if social media makes it look like everyone else has it all figured out.
But feeling confused and left out can also cause us to sit still and do nothing. While we sit there, we continue to feel alone and ashamed, while our money issues get worse and our dreams remain unattained. Working with a coach can help you get clear on what your values are and how you can set goals that align with those values.
5. You Don’t Want to Talk to Loved Ones About Money
As I’m sure you know, if you’re reading this, money is a touchy subject. It has long been considered taboo to discuss, and there is a lot of perceived and real judgment. This makes it extra hard to talk about money with the people who love us. Our loved ones have an emotional investment in our lives and choices. They also might have a financial stake in our decisions, good or bad. But this is why it is so important to be open and honest with our loved ones about money.
This might even help you if you’re struggling with any of the issues I listed above. Openness and honesty can eliminate shame, which can give us the strength to move forward and make changes. Plus, sharing our money stories is good for everyone. If women didn’t talk about how much they earn, we’d never be able to make strides to close the wage gap. It’s also a way to feel less alone. You never know who else might be suffering in silence, thinking that they’re the only one. If you’re open about your debt, or other financial problems, you could show someone else that there are others out there going through the same thing.
If you’re dealing with any of these struggles, I know it probably feels insurmountable. But you’re not alone! There are many resources out there: blogs, books, courses, and coaches, like me! It’s important to make the investment in products and services that will improve your life in the long-term. Putting money down up front, responsibly, will save you money over time, once you have a better relationship with your money and develop better habits. An investment in this is an investment in yourself.
Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. She founded Maggie Germano Financial Coaching with the mission to provide women with the support and tools they need to take control of their money and achieve their goals. She does this through one-on-one coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, writing, and workshops. Follow Maggie on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and join her Money Circle group! For more information, or to contact Maggie directly, visit her website.
Image via Unsplash