Three Steps to Move Past Money Shame

Have you ever felt embarrassed about your finances? Do you judge yourself for not paying more attention to your money?

In addition to being unpleasant, these emotions can have real and negative consequences. Simply, shame prevents you from taking positive actions to secure your financial future. I hear it all the time, from my clients and from women I meet when I tell them about my work.

Do any of these situations feel familiar to you?

  • Alex had big medical bills a couple years ago and built up a balance on her credit cards. Now each month when payment day comes around, she feels sick to her stomach. She can’t face looking clearly at her debt and making a plan to get beyond it. So she pays the minimum and promises herself she’ll deal with it next month.
  • Lilly didn’t realize her husband drained their investment account when his business hit a rough patch – until they got divorced and she discovered there was nothing left. She didn’t ask questions because she felt uncomfortable confronting her husband about their finances.
  • Sonja just recently started saving for retirement – at age 62. For years she felt intimidated and didn’t know where to start. When she finally got up the courage to sign up for her company retirement plan, she felt such relief that she jumped up and gave the investment advisor (me) a giant hug!

All of these examples are natural, human reactions to financial stressors. But they don’t offer any real relief. If you find yourself avoiding your financial truth, these three strategies will help.

  • Pay attention to what gets in your way.
    Notice your behavior patterns around money.

    • Are you an emotional spender, a.k.a. “retail therapy”?
    • Do you avoid uncomfortable conversations about money?
    • Are you slapped with late fees because you hate paying bills?

What holds you back? Awareness is the first step toward change.

  • Money doesn’t judge you! Stop judging yourself.
    After 19 years as a financial advisor, I’ve heard it all:

    • “I should have made better financial decisions 10 years ago.”
    • “I can’t believe I have so little saved for retirement.”
    • “I spend too much at Starbucks.”

The numbers on the page are not good or bad. Judgement comes from stories you tell yourself. Positive action quiets that critical voice.

  • Get clear on your priorities.
    The same values that motivate you in other areas of your life should also drive your financial decisions.

    • Independence.
    • More time with loved ones.
    • New experiences.

Everyone’s list is different. Know what you want to accomplish, and you will achieve the clarity you need to make wise decisions.

Almost all my clients use the exact same words: “I just want to be smart about it.”
If you identify your patterns, cultivate a positive money mindset, and really know your values, you can start to dissolve the toxic shame that holds you back from making positive progress.

What decisions are you avoiding? Let me know! I am passionate about helping women get past what’s holding them back so they can control their future. Email, tweet @sofiafinancial, or schedule a free 20-minute consultation here.

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