Best Life: Stop Feeling Bad About Money

Any time is a good time to start changing how you THINK about money. Even around the holidays. Maybe especially around the holidays! 

If you can grasp why you feel the way you do about money, you can start laying the groundwork to change your financial stress and/or stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Too many people have an identity that is tied to how much money they have or don’t have. Stop it!   

Imagine a day where you no longer fret over making enough money. Imagine making choices not based on how much you don’t have, but instead, on what you really want to do? It’s possible. You can even learn to save money for that special trip you’ve been wanting to take or buy those fabulous Tamara Mellon shoes you’ve been craving all year long  (Yaaaaassss! You say trip, I say shoes, tomato/tomahto).  The point is, it’s all possible. 

But first, it starts with understanding it’s taken you “this” many years to develop your views about money, so it’s going to take time to work and change it.  So, start today. 

Baby steps.

Understanding your backstory when it comes to money specifically is the first step in making changes to how you feel about money.   

We all have feelings about money. Those feelings are tied into how we were raised. Our experiences watching adults deal with finances had a significant impact on how we deal with money today.  If you were raised in a well-to-do household, you may have a distorted view of what it means to “earn a living”.  Doing volunteer work because your dad wouldn’t give you access to your trust fund is not the same as growing up watching your dad work as a teacher, janitor, secretary or carpenter and never knowing what a trust fund was/is. Some people never make enough just to put food on the table, let alone “summer” in France regularly.  It just doesn’t happen, it’s not even an option for most folk. In the same respects, kids born to wealth are not inherently ungrateful, selfish or unenlightened. Being born into wealth isn’t easier.  It’s just different.  Some kids born into wealth are raised by nanny’s – children of wealth may have constant feelings of being shuffled off and may feel like a nuisance to their parents. “Rich kids” may get everything they want materially but may miss out on relationships with their parent, which, let’s face it, is what every kid really wants. 

The point is no one should feel bad about what family financial situation they were born into. 

No one has a choice how they come into this world.  But we all have a choice in becoming better, in everything we do when you have the opportunity. That includes understanding what money is, what it can be and how we can be better about our emotional attachment to it. 

To be very clear: one story isn’t better or more evolved than the other. Just because you grew up not “summering” or having private lessons, doesn’t make you a better person.  But our past, matters.  Having a real conversation about WHY you feel the way you do about money is an important first step to fixing your current financial ideas about money. 

For most people whose parents worked regular 9-5 day jobs, money may have always been a scarcity, always hard to get, felt like some sort of relief whenever they had it, and easily spent away in one “important” holiday or unexpected emergency room visit. 

For others who may have been born into wealth, money is hardly discussed but always shown. Children of wealth have similar but different problems with money. Being given a Honda instead of a BMW for a birthday gift is a real problem.  The status of driving a Honda among friends may be seen as “not good enough” when your parents could have afforded a “Beemer”.  It may feel as some sort of punishment.

Again, to some people reading this blog, the idea that a car would be gifted to a teenager may seem unfathomable and many would dismiss the issue as the wealthy teenager being ungrateful. But you would be wrong.  For the purposes of this discussion, none of that matters.  What does matter is that the stories we personally have about what money means affects us into adulthood regardless of wealth.  It can be detrimental to who we are as adults. Our past defines how we relate to money and how we feel about it today.  In order to change our emotions about money, it’s important to acknowledge why we believe the things we do. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. When was the first time you remember learning that you were rich, poor, middle class or anywhere in-between?   On page 26 of my book CANELA I discuss opening presents one Christmas morning and realizing there was no Santa. And although I always knew we weren’t rich, being poor was solidified for me that day.  There was no Santa and when you write a letter asking for what you want and don’t get it, it’s because your mom can’t afford it. My first feelings of not having money is that being poor is bad. We must be bad people. I’m not worthy to have things I want, because we’re poor and being poor is bad. See how that works?     
  2. When you were a child and first heard adults talking about money, what were they saying? I remember mostly the bargaining and the begging from my mom needing another week to pay this or that. The negotiating. The hoping she could afford something. I remember her stress and reaction when I asked for something we couldn’t afford. I remember going without because she didn’t have enough.  So, money to me has always been a negative entity. Money has always been associated with people with power being cruel to people with no money. I grew up not liking what money did to good people. And thinking that all bad people were mostly people with money.  Now, of course today we know that power is a whole other animal and really what that was about. Nonetheless, my issues with money are associated with that experience.
  3. Was money the main topic of discussion in your house growing up? Were there arguments about money you overheard? Money was always discussed in my childhood. Money was the reason for why things did and did not happen. Dreams were based on money. I couldn’t dance because I couldn’t afford new dance shoes or afford expensive “real” classes.  Money and not having it was the reason for everything. It became the reason my mother died at 49. Not having enough money to get proper medical care and having to work while sick, is still what I maintain killed her. I absorbed that as a child. Money was cruel. Money was evil. People who had it were horrible to let my mother die. Again, none of this is really the entire truth, but at 11 years old, this is what defined my ideas about money and wealth.   
  4. When you wanted something and it cost money, were you made to work for it or was it given to you with a heavy dose of guilt attached or was it a simple transaction? I learned to stop asking for things because it was painful to watch my mother tell me we couldn’t afford it. After I lost my mother, I always felt a burden to other people, so I made-due with what I had and my only goal was to never be a problem. Wanting anything more than what I already had came with a heavy dose of guilt.  Self-esteem and self-worth always in flux during those years.
  5. Do you think you have a healthy relationship when it comes to money? Today, yes. But it’s because over the years, I’ve worked with and been around various kinds of people from so many different financial backgrounds – from extremely wealthy clients to individuals starting out with less than two rocks to rub together. I’ve learned from first hand experience how extremely similar all people are about money, regardless of their bank accounts and “net worth”. 

The one common denominator that’s changed my views about money is that most people, regardless of the amount of wealth they have, can be very unhappy and struggling. And it usually has to do with how they define money in their lives. 

It’s incredibly fascinating. Terribly sad. Totally fixable. And oh, so freeing! The best part: fixing how you feel about money, has nothing to do with how much of it you have or don’t have. Feeling good about who you are regardless, is…well, forgive the cliche, priceless.  

Once you understand why you feel the way you do about money, you can take steps to start deconstructing those ideas and get to a better place.   

Think about these truths/facts:

  • You are not defined by how much money you have in the bank.
  • When people meet you, they don’t know how much money you have or don’t have.
  • People with healthy relationships with money, don’t flaunt money or care about designer anything. Good people with healthy ideas about money value quality over quantity. Quality over cost. Quality over everything.
  • There are amazing people who have a lot of money.
  • There are horrible people who have a lot of money.
  • There are amazing people who have no money at all.
  • There are horrible people who have no money at all. 
  • People with money have just as many problems as people without money – different problems, but just as bad, just as heart-wrenching, just as stressful (I promise you, this is true).
  • Poor people’s problems are just as valid as rich people’s problems. And just as important.  
  • You are worthy regardless. Period.
  • Wanting more money is not a crime. Having money is not a crime. Not having money is also not a crime. Stop feeling bad about any of it.

Till next time. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Carmen

(Carmen Suarez is an Adviser, Business Manager and Speaker to various start-ups and individual/wealth clients. For more information visit: carmensbusiness.com)

Are We Better Than This? Penn State.

*in case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a sorta transcript:

I had planned to post a very different video blog today, but in light of all that has happened over at Penn State, I couldn’t help but change what I had to say this morning.

People are outraged that this horrific situation happened at Penn State and rightfully so.  But I’m not surprised.  I’m not surprised it happened at all.  And I’m not surprised that people didn’t do anything for so long, and when they did, they did the bare minimum.

I’m not surprised because I see it every day.  We are so self-absorbed as a society now a days, that when something bad does happen on the street or at an event or there’s a fight at a bar – people’s first reaction isn’t to get involved to stop it — No, most people’s first reaction nowadays is to break out their  iPhones and film it!

This lack of community, this apathy, this fear of getting involved is dangerous, it’s killing us — its destroying us.  And it’s a shame.

I think it’s easy to sit here and be appalled by people’s inaction after all these years — that people knew children were being raped by a 50 year old man.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s friggin’ outrageous on so many levels.  But do we honestly believe that when the big thing happens, when the big emergency happens that we’ll be able to break out our Superman cape and help someone in distress when we won’t even get involved in what we could call the “little” things in comparison?   We won’t  even help out our next door neighbor or the homeless guy on the street or assist the little old lady with her groceries.  All out of being self-absorbed or just not wanting to get involved.  Hell, who are we kidding? -most of us don’t even know our next door neighbors nowadays.

I think it’s easy to be outraged.  Hindsight is 20/20 after all.  The hard thing to do is to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “what have I done to help someone today?”

But we CAN change it.  That’s the good news.  We can always be better than we used to be.  “When we know better, we do better,” to steal a line from the great poet Maya Angelou.  And that’s my hope.

That as all of this comes to fruition, as all this unravels,  that we find a way to become a better people. We have to, we’re better than this.

On a side note, to all the Veterans out there — much love and peace to you, always.  Thank you for your service.

Till next week then.

Three Things. . . TCML

*in case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a sorta transcript:

Three things…That Changed My Life (TCML):

Okay, that sounds a little over-dramatic, but honestly, baby steps.  These are three baby steps I took to get where I am right now in my life and I can honestly tell you, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!  I’m not even exaggerating.  I tracked every step for the past year to monitor what worked and what didn’t work and now, I want to share those things that did…so here goes three of them:

1)     When you wake up in the morning, DON’T grab your cell phone.  Everyone does it and I’m telling you – if you can break this habit, it will change the way your morning begins.  At the very least I was shocked at how hard a habit it  was to break.  Now, I don’t even look at my cell phone for the first hour after I wake and sometimes I don’t even look at it till after I write.  Try it. You’ll be shocked at how hard it is to do — but once you do it, you’ll start your morning off so differently!

2)    Instead of using your cell in your car, try listening to music!  Besides the idea that it really is dangerous to drive and talk/text and all that which I won’t rehash here, the truth is, if you can just listen to music while you’re in your car instead of taking business calls and such, you will have a wonderful place to distress!  Everyone is always talking about how they have no time for themselves, well this is the easiest way to enjoy what I like to call “ME” time!   And it’s so old school — when was the last time you just sang your heart out to some old song on the radio?  I’m telling you — this is the easiest, cheapest and most fun way to distress — and you don’t need to FIND the time — you just have to turn the music on and enjoy!

3)    You’ve all heard this one before, but I actually did it,  and it  does works.  I didn’t believe it would, but, it did and it does.    Everyday look into the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful, remarkable and here for a purpose.  I never really believed that talking to myself in the mirror could change something about me, but I’ve done it, I still do it and it helps me start my day in a positive way. It empowers me.  It reminds me.  This one you’ll just have to trust me on.  Try it every day for two weeks till you really believe it — I’m telling you…trust me.

Again, it’s all baby steps.  But now that I’m finally where I want to be in my life (and loving it!)  – I’m positive that some things that I changed in my life in the past year worked brilliantly  – now it may not work for you, but it JUST might!   At the very least, it can’t hurt!

Until next week my peeps!

Cheers and one love.

Carmen