Knowledge about your finances can set you up to feel more in control and less stressed. Last month I wrote about how ignorance of our finances often leads to stress and financial woes. You can find the blog here.
This month, I’m going to suggest ways to get comfortable with finances that will help you learn, ease your concerns and lead to feeling more in control with your personal finances.
This quote is true for everything, but especially for finances, which can be an extremely heavy burden when they are unknown or not understood:
“It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
Here are some ideas of how to learn and know your financials in different life situations:
Engaged or moving in together:
When you’re getting married or moving in together, discuss the finances and both of your ideas on what your ideal future looks like. This allows you to make plans together to work towards your shared goals.
Share your information and the knowledge of how you plan to manage any debt and all the benefits of any savings, preferably before you live together as a couple! Talk about how you want to proceed financially.
Discussing what you do NOT want is also very important. Examine and compare your money styles and get comfortable with how you each are similar and different. Few people have the same ideas about money – you don’t have to agree on absolutely everything, but you do need to get comfortable and learn to compromise on things. Once you share information and each takes responsibility for the pieces you have control over, you can start to make joint plans and take actions together that make sense for you as a couple.
Married or living common-law:
Even if one partner wants to ‘look after things’ please sit down at least once a year, if not every six months, for a review and planning session. See the numbers. Add up the totals. Readjust your plans for the future. Deal with any issues like overspending or bad habits head-on.
Communicate respectfully and focus on problem-solving, not blame. Understand how things are working for both of you. Create one document of how things look, then update it when things change significantly. Include all your important information.
Working together towards the same goals is much more satisfying for both of you and creates more motivation. Understanding your situation will help lead to feeling good about taking responsibility for both the good and the difficult and make any needed actions or corrections of your path easier to follow. Being accountable to each other helps develop good money habits and makes goals easier to obtain. Making sure either of you can monitor your joint holdings like a mortgage, line of credit and any joint credit cards will instil more trust and honesty.
To clarify: It’s not necessary to combine everything and share one joint banking account, but you do need to be accountable to each other for your future plans and be able to look at each other’s information and money habits openly. You don’t want secrets that may sabotage your assets and hurt the future of your relationship.
We all make mistakes at times. Learn the lessons that mistakes teach you both. Keep communicating openly and with respect and move on.
Share the victories you make as a family and as individuals. Celebrate the accomplishments and goals you reach! Find ways to motivate yourselves to stick with it and enjoy the process. Take turns doing some of the necessary and sometimes mundane tasks and hold each other accountable. Try and make finance time fun and motivate yourselves for good habits with enjoyable rewards that fit your budget.
Living as the one financially responsible:
If you’re on your own – single, separated, divorced or widowed – book a date with your finances at least every six months, maybe monthly if things are difficult and you need to budget and pay bills. It does get easier as you learn the ins and outs of your own finances. You can get good at it, exercise more control, and find life becomes less stressful as you understand your unique situation better – it just takes a desire to learn and a bit of persistence.
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins as you learn about your finances and make gains. Reward yourself with something enjoyable for a job well done. Having a confidante about some of your goals and being held accountable can be a tremendous help.
There are professionals that can help you with investments, budgeting, and improving your financial knowledge. The internet is full of good information if you stick to reliable sources. There are courses, videos, and good television shows available that can all help. Many great books are available on any finance topic you seek.
Ask good questions and keep asking until you gain understanding. Nothing in finance is a stupid question! If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, ask someone else or look somewhere else.
Personal finance is a life long journey.
You make mistakes – you learn.
You make more mistakes – you learn more.
Keep doing your best,
Keep your money goals in mind.
Knowledge about your finances = able to make informed decisions.
Knowledge about your finances = able to take meaningful actions.
Knowledge about your finances = improving what is not working.
Knowledge about your finances = feeling confident and in control.
Knowledge about your finances = feeling empowered.
Sharing the burdens and the benefits of finances helps everyone
that is in your budget to be motivated and more willing to pitch in and stick to budgets and plans.
Teaching your kids about finances will help empower them for the rest of their lives.
Lead by example!
Please contact me if you would like some help reaching your goals. I can help you find the knowledge you need to feel good about what you do have and what steps you need to take to get where you want to be with your personal finances and your life! To be clear, I do not offer financial investment advice, but I do offer helpful tools, resources, and information to help you get started. I am also a great accountability partner if that is what you need!
I do offer a strategy session.
I also manage a private Facebook group where we can connect. Please join me in ‘Growing Through Divorce‘.
Take good care of yourself!
Pam Mirehouse The Separation Project Coach