People assume that because I’m a bookkeeper I must have the most awesome, perfect, you-wish-you-were me relationship with my money. They imagine me floating on clouds of cash money while being spoon-fed caviar from cherubs with $100 bills for wings. This is so not the case.
Like anyone, I have to work to develop and maintain a healthy friendship with money and like any friendship, we still fight. We make up. We fight some more, and we make up again. It is a process, not an overnight fix and like any process it takes time and mistakes before you learn how to get it right.
Not too long ago I was enemies with my money. What does a money enemy look like? Like this:
I NEVER looked at my bank account because I was too afraid of what I might see
I overdrew my account constantly
I spent every dollar I made because I felt like money owed me something
I had bills in collections and my credit was baaaaaad
I only paid the minimum due on my credit cards
I had student loans that were some abstract big number, but I really wasn’t sure what that was
I had zero personal savings
The idea of saving for retirement seemed like an urban legend that self-employed people told each other
The worst part of being enemies with my money was that I felt SHAME. I felt shameful about how I didn’t handle my money properly and I felt shameful that I didn’t have all the things financial advisors tell you are absolutely necessary in order to have that elusive “security”.
My credit was bad, I def did not have 6 months of emergency savings, I had short-term and long term debt, and I didn’t have any cushion on my checking account for extra expenses.
I was broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and the mere thought of my finances caused stress and anxiety.
I sure knew how to tell other people how to manage their money, but I couldn’t do it myself. And that’s what finally pushed me to transform my relationship with money. I was tired of feeling like an imposter. I was tired of spending all my time helping other people improve their financial relationship without giving any time in service of my own.
Before I tell you what I did, I want to say this: It took years, YEARS, to repair my relationship with money. This isn’t a 10 Overnight Tricks to Turn Your Finances Around, this is How I Pain-Stakeingly Crawled Out of a Hole Even Though it Was Scary and Slowly Learned to Love my Money.
I also want to tell you the True Life: I’m Gonna Get Real part of this story- when I started my money transformation I made less than $30,000 year.
There wasn’t any magical money that appeared in my life or a major shift in my income. This journey started with priorities.
I didn’t do it the way financial advisors or money books tell you to do it. I did it the way that felt emotionally safe for me. I did it the way that fit with my deepest need, which was to be gentle and kind with myself. The process wasn’t logical, it was emotional, and I’m still in it.
I haven’t reached my peak with my financial relationship yet, but I’m on the climb and I’m appreciating the process, even the missteps.
It’s the process of repairing our finances that strengthens our relationship with money, not the dollars in our bank account.
Next week, I’ll share the first step of my journey- how I dealt with my debt.