There is an old British proverb “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”
We think of this saying when we know that people have access to tons of financial literacy tools and information. It is out there and more readily available than it ever has been.
And yet, a lot of the information and money knowledge is not being applied in day-to-day lives as evidenced by the fact that our collective debt loads continue to rise.
We see statistics every day in the news:
One in five retirees are still facing mortgage payments
- 66% have unpaid credit cards;
- 26% are making car payments;
- 7% have unpaid health expenses;
- 7% owe money on holiday expenses or vacation property; and
- 6% haven’t paid off home renovations.
In the USA:
- 56% of Americans lose sleep when they think of retiring
- 1 in 3 have not saved anything for retirement
- 34% of millennials put off buying a home because of debt
The struggle with money is real; it is pervasive. You are not alone.
Maybe we see and read many articles created for us to understand money management skills. But like the horse led to the water, for some reason efforts by the authors and publishers are not making us utilize that knowledge.
How can this knowledge be presented in a way that will motivate us to apply it? What is our resistance to facing the money world we have created for ourselves?
Could it be an underlying shame that makes us avoid the truth about our money situation? We run. We hide. But we never escape. And it haunts. How do we ever find the courage to face our shame?
Like any attempt to heal, you must first face the facts. Admit that you have shame. In a careful and loving way be honest with yourself. It serves no purpose to beat yourself up as this behavior often compounds the problem. Like dieting or any other behavioral change that you try to make, a kindness directed to yourself may be the best starting point.
It seems to me that most of our relationship with money is due to behaviors or messages displayed and relayed to us by our parents or guardians. This intuitively makes sense to me. Just as our relationship with food is often tied to childhood, so too must our money relationship be. We must become wise money counsellors to ourselves, or if that doesn’t work, accept some outside money counselling might be needed. Counselling for mental health and all kinds of disorder is so very acceptable these days. Why not money therapy?
If you want to try to heal yourself, after accepting that you have a broken connection with money, the next step might be to determine what money voices live in your head and your heart. What did you learn about money growing up? Maybe you recall watching your parents struggle to pay bills, seeing money as something that was fleeting and never enough. Maybe money came and went easily, on the wrong things, and no planning for the future. Common money messages include:
- “money doesn’t grow on trees”
- “wealthy people must be crooks”
We may relate to these voices:
- “I am not good with money.”
- “I just spend and never think about my spending.”
- “I don’t think I will ever figure this out”
- “I don’t deserve success.”
- “There’s never enough.”
On and on it goes.
Slow it down. Listen to it. As Oprah says, sit with it. Be present.
Remember, you are surrounded by people who were not taught healthy money management skills, people drowning in debt, people ashamed by where they are - you are far from alone.
Once you know this, you may find a small opening toward the next step in finding your path to your healed money soul.