Do your personal finances feel out of control? Do you avoid balancing your checkbook, opening the mail or filing for reimbursements?
Many people feel overwhelmed by financial housekeeping and convince themselves that staying in the “money fog” is better than dealing with reality.
Lack of clarity and resistance to action can cause magical thinking: a state of avoidance and hope that your financial problems will just go away.
Even Mayo Clinic’s health risk assessment has integrated a personal financial well-being scale because men and women alike fear and act as if a close look at their money will cause an avalanche of questions, unknowns and things to do, and potentially threaten their lifestyle.
While some shifts may be necessary, the rewards of getting a handle on your money far outweigh the supposed benefits of burying your head in the sand.
Here are the most common goals among money coaching clients:
- Feel good about money
- Know where my money is going
- Have peace of mind about money
- Save and earn more money
- Plan for the future
- Grow my assets
- Fulfill my dreams
The automated nation we live in does not support attaining these goals.
There are opportunities everywhere to disconnect from your money: automatic payments, transfers, withdrawals, renewals, sharing accounts, not sharing accounts, donations, credit cards, outsourcing your bookkeeping, and shopping opportunities in your inbox, mailbox and on your smartphone. It’s time to rein it in.
Here are some easy tips for simplifying your financial life:
- Schedule one hour this week to have a “My Money Matters” appointment with yourself
- Unsubscribe from e-mail lists: stores, sales and social deals
- Delete travel and shopping apps from your phone — do you really need to buy plane tickets on the street corner?
- Unsubscribe from catalogs. This usually requires a phone call: “Please permanently remove me from your mailing list and all third party mailing lists.”
- Cancel subscriptions to things you don’t read, use or like: newspapers, magazines and newsletters
- Change automatic payments from various credit cards to just one, ideally your checking account
- Examine each financial commitment at least once a year and ask yourself, “Is this expense getting me closer or farther away from the vision I have for my life?”
- File for reimbursements
- Track your gift certificates and credits, noting deadlines and expiration dates
Don’t panic! I am not suggesting you do all of these tasks at once. I saw a traditional financial therapist for a while who suggested that I cancel all of my automatic payments, “What?!”
Lo and behold, it was an exercise to deepen what at the time was my non-existent relationship with money. I did not make every account change that day. In fact, it took me about a month to undo all of the automaticity. I realized I had automatic payments going out on three different cards, that I had a $233 credit on my electricity bill and one credit card was overdue unbeknownst to me since I had set it up with an e-mail address I hadn’t checked in several months.
You can avoid these common pitfalls, the undertow of the money fog and overspending by slowing down. Have one consistent day per week, at least, when you tend to your money. Like a garden, if left neglected, your money will accumulate weeds, non-native inhabitants, litter, and nighttime predators and, ultimately, you risk drying out.