Money is a funny thing. It is widely debated whether money buys happiness. Many people have a volatile relationship with money. Some work so hard for money and financial success but lose track of other meaningful things in life. Others worry they will never have enough, no matter how hard they work. Then there are those that seem to have more than enough money and are not deserving. However, not everyone has these types of relationships with money and have figured out a good way to look at and manage a money relationship. Realizing this, I want to share my financial story and what I believe truly successful people do in order to find financial peace.
Being married to a financial planner, you would think I have a balanced relationship with money. But I have my ups and downs. Growing up my parents raised me to save and to budget, and being the achiever that I am, I was really good at following the rules I was taught. As a teenager, I saved money from the time I was 9 or 10 from doing chores or babysitting to buy my first car. In college I spent each summer earning just enough money, to get by each week of the school year to keep up with my friends. After college, it was very important to me to live independently, but my job would not support that lifestyle. Instead of living at home, I cashed out 21 years’ worth of savings bonds, to help supplement. That money lasted me years. I earned, budgeted and saved, just as I had done my whole life.
I continued to grow my income year after year, but at the age of 26 things changed. My income suddenly multiplied 5x in only 6 months. Instead of continuing to budget I felt a sense of financial freedom. I wanted a break from penny pinching and was spending (never lavishly, but a lot more than I should have) without thinking twice. It was a great feeling to feel free from all that saving and budgeting. My husband and I were able to pay for a large portion of our wedding with no sweat off our back, and without asking our parents for more money as wedding expenses grew. We took amazing vacations after vacations, fancy dinners out and bought really nice gifts for ourselves and others.
Then things changed again. Our income stood steady, but we added to our lifestyle, bought a house (a house full of problems that cost us a lot more money), and started two business, while not budgeting back and re-evaluating our lifestyle. (According to my husband this is the most common financial mistake made, across humanity). And for the first time in our lives we had debt, which forced me to start thinking a lot more about money.
When our debt started bothering me a mentor reminded me I was only getting in my way of more money coming in. I needed to let go of worrying how it is coming in or how it is going out to continue my pursuit of success. That does not mean I live in denial, or am faking it till I make it, but to have faith it will all work out, which I do. I also believe one has to spend money to make money and supporting our business ventures in a responsible way is deserved and necessary to grow.
There are several other lessons around my relationship with money I have learned, and continue to learn. Nothing was clear until I gave myself a true reality check. Instead of not looking at our finances and allowing my husband to handle it all, I took a clear look and accepted what existed. I now spend time a few times a week looking at what is coming in and what is going out, but not being attached to it emotionally. Just having the knowledge has allowed me the power to let go and have faith.
I also remind myself things will work out because they always have. I am not preparing for things to not work out because that is just me worrying and getting in my own way again. We always find a way to make things work, and this is no different, there is always more available from where that success had stemmed.
The most important lesson learned has been to continue to be generous. I have always practiced generosity, but at times when there is not extra cash floating around it has been harder to do so. I am no longer looking at generosity as something that should exist only in a surplus. Instead, I remind myself that most of this world lives on only a few dollars a day and I am pretty damn lucky to be in the situation I am. For that I am grateful, and would rather show abundance and spread what we have, than dwell on what we may not. Not only do I believe it is better for the world, but it makes me feel better. Additionally, if I express an abundance (again not necessarily lavishly), I will attract an abundance. If I believe in abundance and work towards abundance, by giving back what I can, more will come.
Marie Forleo has put out an episode of B-School discussing money matters. This episode lead me to her episode “6 Little Money Mindset Shifts That Pay Off Huge”. The later episode identifying many of my existing thoughts on money, along with several other highly impactful tips. Between believing and practicing my new “money mantras”, and letting go of my “money story”, I feel very confident and my financial worry subsides.