Our bank accounts, like your bodies, come in all different sizes and shapes. But get this – research tells us that people with bulging bank and investment accounts have pretty much the same financial fears as those who live paycheck to paycheck or have a more moderate sum put away. This fear is the “bag lady/street person syndrome” or the fear of being poor in your older age.
This research lends itself to the assumption that money isn’t what creates security. Fears don’t always come from a rational, logical, left brain place. Some fears originate from a deeper place, the gut. These fears are based in emotion and are supported by an underlying belief system.
The bag-lady/street person syndrome plagues, puzzles and, in more extreme cases, paralyzes women and men who want to get a better grip on their financial lives. Even famous people like, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine and Katie Couric all admit to having a bag lady in their anxiety closet; the syndrome cuts across all social groups.
I think this has a lot to do with the fact that people fear the financial planning process, so sometimes they avoid it. I have seen men and women have tremendous anxiety when it comes to actually “seeing their real money picture,” and finding out what they need to do to reach their long term goals.
I usually get this comment: “If I don’t know the numbers, I don’t have to do anything about it right now.” Denial, although not so healthy, creates a protective cushion. It takes tremendous courage to be willing to shift out of denial to a place of clarity in regard to your financial picture.
It takes courage to look at your money picture; to really own up to and take responsibility for the years you have kept your head in the sand. In most cases I found that people did not confront it because they didn’t know how to.
Even when you put a plan in place, you can be filled with anxiety, with thoughts of “Am I ever going to be able to retire?”, “How much more do I need to save a month to meet my retirement goals?” and maybe even, “Can I do this?”
Here is a tip about writing up a financial plan and the whole process of starting to pay attention to money… it isn’t written in stone. It’s just a picture of a snapshot in time about your money and dreams. Anything can change to make it better.
Generally, the best laid plans get changed anyway because of life circumstances. The important thing is to re-visit your plan on a regular basis. You can re-assess your dreams, resources and creatively find a way to get what you want in life.
A budgeting fear I hear regularly is “If I plan my spending, I won’t be able to get what I want.” That’s a strong belief that could cause you to stop from planning your cash flow and monitoring it! This fear usually isn’t grounded in reality. What I tell people is how would you like to have a system and a plan that allows you to spend money on what you want? Then it is… “Oh…. Well yes I would!”
So there are many sound reasons people fear taking on their finances. I know from own experience that women tend to have more math anxiety than men. I frequently hear, “I just am no good at all with money, I have no faith in myself.” “I was never good at math.” But all it takes is a calculator and a planned user- friendly system, to make it all work out.
Most women aren’t socialized to talking about money. Women traditionally have conversations about their children, important relationships, their business dreams and taking care of their parents. It is more common to hear a man talk about how the stock market is doing or to bring up money in conversation. Sometimes we tell ourselves stories that keep us away from engaging more actively with our money.
The “language of money” and the language of investing can be scary. It’s challenging to be talking with a financial professional and feel you need to have a dictionary at your fingertips to understand what is being said.
You really need to identify your fears. It’s maybe even helpful to actually label it. Labeling it begins to take the energy out of it. It is much harder to deal with free floating anxiety from unlabeled fears. So, figure out what is your greatest financial fear. Write it down with the date. Share your fear out loud with a trusted friend or say it out loud to yourself.
You can post inspirational fear busting quotes where you spend most of your time. Here’s a couple…
“Do one thing that scares you each day.” Eleanor Roosevelt
“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong
“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” Mary Manin Morrissey
The more we practice moving through fear, the greater mastery we have over it.
First step is to take action. Any step forward is a step away from your fear. When you take action, you begin to reclaim your personal power and move out of being a victim or controlled by your fear. You begin to shift your energy. Taking action is one of the most powerful fear busting steps you can take.
What is your most pressing financial issue? What is one thing you can do today to create forward movement and give this issue less power over you?
Action steps can look like taking a class, reading a book or requesting to have a consultation with your financial professional.
Ask questions until you get what you want. When you bump into an obstacle have fun creating a way to move around it. If you want to know what’s going on financially in your marriage or partnership, request to see all the documents that will allow you to get your needs met.
And one last point is to think the best and plan for the worst. No one likes to think about death or disability. And you don’t have to if you have your financial house in order and the appropriate protections in place, in case something happens to you or your partner. That was brought home in a sad way recently with a friend. Planning for the worst is a great way to help alleviate your fears, because you will know that should your worst fear happen, you will be prepared at least financially.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop – turn on the light!