Dammit! I CAN Manage My Money

If there is one task that most people would like to avoid, it is getting their financial house in order. The taboos associated with money are great and often make the job seem overwhelming.  Yet for those who are willing to do it, it can be a truly transformative experience.

I didn’t believe this, myself, until I had a case that proved it to me. The case began when I was asked to help a young widow named Ruth. Her parents had persuaded her to see me because they felt she was floundering and needed some financial help.

When Ruth came in, I was struck by the sadness in her eyes and the sense of helplessness that she conveyed. ”This is very hard for me, ” she began, “I’ve never been to a someone like you before.” ”I understand.” was all I could think of to say.

“You know, my husband died five months ago. I had always relied on him to take care of my money matters.  Now I have no one to turn to.”

She looked so crestfallen, that I was tempted to play the savior and come to her rescue. But I held myself back, as I knew that this approach was not the right one for her.

Too often I had seen people try to save others and in the process prevent them from taking responsibility for themselves. The result was that the “saved” person never became a whole person as they always depended on someone else. I realized that Ruth had to learn to take charge of her money, herself. My task at the moment was to persuade her to try.

“I know it’s tough for you,” I began”, “but I’ve worked with lots of people, and I know that you can manage your money, yourself with a little help.”

“You really think so?” Ruth asked and I could see that she was skeptical.

“It’s not hard. The most difficult part is finding the will to do it.” Then I continued, “if you are willing to take an honest look at your total financial picture, and follow some simple instructions for getting it in order, you can be your own money manager.”

“Do you guarantee it”? she asked, and for the first time I saw some light come into her eyes.

“Absolutely,” I replied with a smile, and we both understood that I was exaggerating.

“Then I’ll give it a try.” She said with as much conviction as she could.

“Good.” I said.

I took out a summary sheet and began helping Ruth write down her financial facts: cash, checking accounts, savings, debts, etc. As we looked at her facts, I explained how they worked, and gave her suggestions for managing them. Most of my advice was very straightforward. I had her count her cash each night; look at her checkbook balances each day; and take the basic steps for getting all of her finances under control using simple fact sheets as guides. She took the suggestions home and began putting them into practice. She found that they were not only easy to do, but were effective.

Once we had gotten her finances organized, at our next session we examined her total position to see what she should do next. Looking at her income and home costs, she saw that her home was too expensive for her to keep. She had been holding on to it because her husband had loved it, and she felt guilty about selling it. Now that she saw that it was financially unrealistic for her to maintain it, she was more than willing to let it go.

As to her purpose in life, she had spent many hours thinking about becoming a social worker, but had been afraid to try it because she didn’t think that she had the money to go back to school. In looking at the summary, she discovered that with the proceeds from the house and the investments that her husband had left her, she could afford the costs of getting a master’s degree.

This gave her the courage she needed to move and start a new career.

As I watched this woman make one decision after another, I saw her self-image get stronger and stronger. Her new-found skills in managing money gave her the confidence to pull her life together.

When she left my office for the last time, I vividly remember her parting words as she turned and gave me a two fingered victory sign. She smiled and exclaimed, “Dammit! I CAN manage my money”. That thought alone was exhilarating, but as I mused over this case later on, I realized what was even more satisfying was that now we were both convinced that she could manage her life as well.

COMMENTARY

I don’t know how many times that I’ve heard clients say, “My finances are in such a mess that I can’t possibly manage them!”. Yet when I look at their financial picture, they often appear to be reasonably good managers. The belief that “I can’t manage” is often a major reason why many people don’t even try to manage.

When I examined the basis for this belief, I discovered that it usually comes from not knowing or understanding their total financial position. At best, clients have glimpses of their finances as they manage their transactions, but rarely do they have a comprehensive picture to guide them. Without the whole picture, they can’t feel confident about making the best decisions.

I tried using income and expense forms and balance sheet forms but clients found them too complicated. So I made up my own Financial Summary Form.

Once my clients have filled in my Financial Summary Form, they have no trouble understanding their financial facts or seeing what they can do to better by their own management. They may still have financial issues to resolve, but their fears of tackling them are greatly reduced.

So here is the best starting point for overcoming your management fears. Visit http://empoweringmoneysolutions.com/making-a-financial-summary and download the Summary Form and follow the Instructions for filling in the Form.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

Can you think of reasons why you avoid looking at your finances?

What can you do to overcome your fears?

Tags: financial summary form | financial freedom learning | money and spirit tips | money coach instruction