If your financial plan is your spouse, you’d better get your head out of your Sandy Ass.
And if your financial situation is so scary that you would rather talk about sex with a stranger than to a financial planner, you need to learn how to ask for help, now.
Yes, I was one of those—you know them—one of those women who never kept track, and who didn’t prioritize her finances. I’ve always made money and I’ve always spent money.
Over the past 30 years, my husband would occasionally bail me out of a huge credit card debt I’d racked up from thoughtless spending. I’d go right on, feeling lighter for a few months and swearing to “never go back to that again,” but I’d be right back at it in no time—blithely spending more than I made. Not tracking anything, really, not giving a single thought to my financial situation. Until the next time, my husband was forced to bail me out again.
But one January six years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to live that way anymore; jumping from one financial disaster to the next, making promises to myself to clean up my act…one day.
I decided that I wanted to wake up financially—to take a hard look at my financial situation and see what it really looked like.
Well, here’s what I discovered.
It turned out that money was a huge blind spot for me.
I had decided at a very young age that I would never financially depend on a man. Honestly, I never liked the idea of really needing a man. (Events from my past had influenced this very limiting idea.) So I concentrated on making money, spending that money, and paying zero attention to my actual financial situation.
As long as there was money coming in and going out, I figured I could ignore what was going on underneath. The real story. And I eventually ended up being exactly what I had wanted to avoid—dependent on my husband.
By the time I finally decided that I wanted to see just how “screwed” I was, I was so far in debt that if most of you reading this combined your own current debt with your spouse’s, it would be that and more.
It was a serious problem.
Meaning to say, I had a serious problem. And I needed help.
It had gotten to the point where I had to openly admit that my financial situation was completely screwed. I could not lie to myself anymore. That was hard. And I didn’t know what to do. So I went looking for advice from three professional sources.
- A business banker.
- A chartered accountant.
- A financial coach (who showed me how I saw money as energy in my life).
On their advice, I immediately began to keep every receipt (minus any judgment or guilt) from every single purchase I made over one month. Try this analysis—it will floor you. But it’s probably the best thing you could do for yourself. You have to get an honest real picture of where you are at and what you spend daily.
Then I looked at what I had saved for my retirement and what I had on the books for contracts going into the next year. I work for myself so I don’t have a regular paycheck to rely on, let alone a regular RRSP contribution. I took all this information into my CA and he laid out a plan for me to pay off the highest interest cards I had and cut them all up. Afterwhich, I was put on a small monthly salary.
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I sold my new Jeep, bought an old reliable car, and backed out of a huge monthly car payment. I stopped being extravagant with groceries and wine—no more elaborate meals, simple was the key. Lastly, I even cashed one of my RRSPs—not the best thing to do but I paid off all my credit cards.
By July of that same year, I had actual money in my business bank account for the first time in 22 years. I went from four credit cards to one that was just for travel.
Amazingly, I even learned how to open an Excel spreadsheet…and use it. Go figure. What is it they say about old dogs and new tricks?
I cannot tell you how liberating it is to look at your financial situation and feel proud about yourself instead of filled with guilt and shame. No one ever wants to talk about money. We’d rather talk about our sex life than talk about our own finances. Half the time we don’t even know the truth ourselves.
That’s where my money coach came in. He had me look at how I really see and value money and what it means to me. Over time, I started to see my money and my financial situation in a very different way.
And it was life-changing.
I am not a financial guru, but what I am is willing to look in the mirror. My question to you is: are you?
Linda Edgecombe, CSP
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