There are a few things in life most people dread:
- Public speaking
- A root canal
- The “we need to talk” speech
For many people another one that’s at the top of the list is thinking about and dealing with their finances.
In fact, almost 50% of Americans would rather endure a painful dentist visit than meet with a financial professional to discuss their money. And one in five Americans would rather spend an hour in jail than sit down and figure out a five-year financial plan!
Listen, we’re not little girls anymore. We’re strong, confident women and we can take control of our money.
After my divorce my finances (what little there were) were a mess. I was BROKE trying to end my marriage and I just wanted to hide under the covers and ignore any difficult situation.
By not looking at what I was making and what I was spending I was doing metaphorically covering my ears, shutting my eyes and pretending that all was well.
But you know what? It didn’t make the problem go away. In fact, it just got messier.
I’d go out to dinner with girlfriends and order the cheapest item but then someone would suggest splitting the bill equally and my cheap app and water would end up costing $75 because I was embarrassed to ask for separate bills.
I’d go to the grocery store or buy clothes for the kids and pray my card didn’t get declined (of course it did more than once.)
One day I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered how in the hell I got here.
I grew up being very cautious with money (more on that another day) but when my ex-husband and the divorce screwed up my finances, I stopped being courageous and went into a denial mode.
At that moment I decided to stop being afraid. I decided that I was never again going to allow my finances to be tied to someone else.
I committed to being financially independent and in charge of my life and future.
Please hear this – every woman, regardless of her relationship status, must be financially independent.
Every day I work with clients who have relinquished control of their finances to their partner. They’ve decided, or been convinced, that it’s one less thing to have to deal with. Very quickly they’re getting an “allowance” for groceries, having to ask for extra money for something they want to buy or sneaking purchases onto a credit card.
Even if you think, “Alison, this isn’t my situation, our finances are in order and my husband never tells me what I can and can’t buy” life changes. A serious illness, death, unanticipated layoffs, or the divorce you didn’t see coming.
This is why you must be financially independent! This doesn’t mean you need to cut financial ties with your partner if you’re in a healthy, happy relationship. But it does mean you need to have a complete understanding of your income, debt, assets, and budget.
Here are a few of the first steps to become financially confident:
- Have the passwords and sign-ins for all your accounts – banking, investment, credit cards and bills. Be sure you know what bills are paid from which accounts.
- Set up automatic bill pay for all of your bills so you don’t have to worry about them arriving late and getting charged a late fee.
- Review your credit card and bank statements daily. Yes, I said daily! Make it a habit. Before you check your e-mails sit down and check your accounts so you know what’s coming in and going out. You can also check for erroneous fees and charges.
- Sign up for Credit Karma (it’s free) creditkarma.com You’ll have free access to your credit scores (if you don’t know what it is you should!), check for mistakes on your credit reports plus free credit monitoring.
- Set up an easy spreadsheet for all of your monthly bills and income plus groceries, meals out, gas, shopping and other miscellaneous expenses. Have a column for the date each bill is due and if need be, call the company and see if you can change the day of the month it’s due.
- Have a “money date” once every week. Review any unexpected bills (or income) and factor it into your budget. Look at your total spending for groceries, entertainment, restaurants and shopping so that you can gauge how your tracking for the rest of the month and modify if necessary.
- If you don’t have a credit card in your own name get one! When you sign up for Credit Karma you can see which credit card might be right for you.
Most of all, congratulate yourself for taking small steps towards becoming the confident money queen you are becoming!
Want more help getting past self-doubt and fear to live life on your terms confidently and courageously? Learn more about my coaching services for women in midlife.