An affair with money:
It doesn’t have to feel so dirty
by Tim St Vincent
Hi! I will be away for a bit in January, so I asked my peer, Manraj, our Financial Educator in Edmonton if she could fill in for me this month and prepare the January article. She did a great job and below is her article, “An Affair With Money.” A great read!
We have all been there; we’ve made financial mistakes. For some of us they were grave and happened almost in an instant. For others, it was more of a culmination of too much stress eating and shopping that has left a vast dent in what was once our savings. Maybe we just never knew what we were doing until that feeling in our gut told us that something was not right with how we are living. The truth of the matter is that whatever the state of our finances, it is not permanent and we can change to see budgets and money in a more positive light.
Now we’re going to take a step back from the numbers for a moment and dive into the ugly truth. It’s the voices in our head that say, because we made these mistakes we’re not good enough – the terrifying demons that we have that chip away at our self-worth and confidence. In our heads we get angry with ourselves for not being better with money and we scold ourselves as if we were children. Can we really shame ourselves into being better?
There’s a psychological term known as the self-fulfilling prophecy, which means “our personal beliefs and expectations will influence our behaviour.” For instance, let’s take Sally, she impulse buys when she is feeling upset. The voices in her head often keep repeating, “I’m so bad with money, I can’t ever save, I’m so terrible with money.” She even affirms this to friends and family. You see there’s a disconnect between what she wants – to be financially in control – and her words and thoughts. Ultimately, her deep-set beliefs about money are resulting in her having a negative financial relationship with herself.
Instead of shaming ourselves we can ask, “How would a financially empowered person think and act?” It’s important to recognize that it takes time to change those negative voices in our heads. We can correct ourselves when we catch ourselves in the midst of those negative thoughts, and be patient and compassionate. It will take time and patience but those negative thoughts in our heads will eventually take more of a backseat.
It’s crucial that we celebrate our small wins and reinforce any positive financial behaviour. This can be as simple as writing it down in a notebook and telling ourselves, “Good job.” Small habits like skipping an impulse buy, deciding to eat in and save, or putting even $50 into savings, are all positive behaviours we can keep track of. So if on a particular day, those negative voices in our head are telling us that we aren’t doing well, we can look back on our past successes and keep ourselves from getting discouraged. We are not going to be perfect at being compassionate with ourselves every single day. That’s okay, because that’s what it is to be human. What we can do is be kinder to ourselves and conscious of the words we use, give ourselves a pat on the back, and strive to be a little bit better each day.
Tim St Vincent is a retired CFP and is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance with the Credit Counselling Society, a Non-Profit organization focusing on helping people manage their debt. If you wish to contact the Society for further information, assistance or to attend a webinar, please call 1-888-527-8999 or visit www.nomoredebts.org or www.mymoneycoach.ca If you have a question or would like to submit an article idea please contact Tim at 1-888-527-8999 ext 1330.