How do you know if you’re ready to do something different with your finances or how you handle your money? This isn’t something that you necessarily search up on the internet – but more of a gut check. And after three years of personal finance coaching, I’ll share with you some common themes have risen to the surface. And you can perform that gut check for yourself.
We all have heard the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing, over and over yet expecting different results. Crazy making…and that’s often the insane cycle that folks have found themselves on. They simply try harder to do the thing that they did before. Or try to do it longer – with the same results.
Let’s dive into those signs, signals, or circumstances that I’ve seen that lead to ‘readiness’ to tackle money management differently.
1. Your finances are a hot mess.
You’re willing to admit it. Maybe for the first time, or maybe you’ve just joked about it for so long that it was actually kind of funny. Until it wasn’t.
Organized, are a characteristic that your finances could not be labeled. But the bills are paid, almost always on time and you have enough to cover what’s going out…you think.
It’s like walking into your bedroom closet with all the things haphazardly lying around. You know where everything you need is – until that one day you’re on the hunt for an item. You can’t find the belt that is going to go perfectly with your outfit. When was the last time you wore that anyway? Could it still be on that skirt? Where did you leave it again? And now you’re frustrated with yourself for living amidst this crazy closet anyway…and you never did find the belt.
It’s time. No more living like a college student.
A couple of onboarding clients said it this way.
“Ugh, living paycheck to paycheck. Money has been stressful, why do we have to do it this way?”
“I’m tired of feeling this way.”
2. Your situation has changed.
The tide shifted. That income that you were generating has come to a slow roll. It had really been flowing there for awhile. Are you in one of those feast or famine industries that becomes majorly impacted with changes in the economy?
For a minute there you had way more cash flow than you needed. And you thought for sure you’d have more time to sock more of it away….but you didn’t, and you’ve now sworn to yourself that you’re not going to let this situation happen to you again.
You’re over it and willing to do what it takes to figure out what living within your means really looks like, especially given the ups and downs in your industry.
Perhaps it’s not a shift in the market but a shift in your relationship. Going from single to married? Married to divorced or widowed? Not only are these major disruptions (good or bad) to your life – there are income and expense changes that follow suit as well, and you either need to figure out what “we” want or “me” if you were a we. Or you may need to figure out how to “do” finances if your partner had taken care of them before.
When your living situation changes its a great time to not only take stock of how many frying pans a person truly needs – but also take some time to evaluate if your finances need a bit of a home edit too.
Here is a common scenario that comes up.
“I had zero knowledge of the financials. My husband handled the money. No budget, no savings, I was naive in thinking it was all taken care of. There were zero limitations, if we wanted it, we got it.”
3. You’re stuck and frustrated.
You’ve had it up to here with living paycheck to paycheck and at times it’s been even worse than that, having to put some month’s of expenses on a credit card that has taken on a rising balance that was never intended. The temporary fix has become more permanent than you ever anticipated and you’re frankly sick and tired of being sick and tired when it comes to your money management.
The level of frustration and angst can often be the driving factor to you lighting the fire to DO something different. It truly does serve a purpose here to get you into action. What I find however, is that it’s often hard to give those feelings “credit’ for getting you into action – and the regret or shame of not figuring things out earlier or letting it get so bad can be hard to shake.
There is no room for regret or shame on your financial journey moving forward. If it spurred you to action – fine. It served its purpose and now it’s time to let that go.
Can you hear the frustration in these new client comments?
“There is no reason that we should be struggling at the end of each month, but we are.”
“If things don’t change I’m afraid we’ll be kicked out of our apartment, I’ll be embarrassed in front of my siblings, a bad example to my song, and not where I want to be.”
4. Something is off.
You ever have that feeling that you’re on the brink of something incredible, but you’re just not quite sure how to get to that other side? In this situation your financial situation is good. You aren’t losing sleep at night, your bills are paid – but that knowledge that you’re doing everything that you can is elusive.
It’s the Goldilocks analogy of the bed being too little or too big – and never quite right. You are finally ready to try another bed to see if you can get it right and have the confidence that you are doing the absolute best you can with managing your finances.
Or perhaps the plan of attack has been working historically. You have some savings, limited debt but in order to get ahead, or onto that next chapter the same game plan just isn’t going to cut it anymore. You do the math and in order to retire comfortably, you’re going to need to play some major catch up or the dream of traveling cross country annually might need to look a lot different.
Check out the comments by these clients ready to find the missing links.
“My money relationship has been fairly healthy, but too loose. It’s the ‘other’ stuff that adds up that isn’t bills. It’s time to fine tune.”
“I’m not sure if there is grace to stay on the same path. It’s getting harder to live with myself. We are incredible wigglers, in and out of making it work. We’re con artists to each other, and we sleep good at night.”
5. You know what you want but you’re just not getting there.
You’ve waltzed into your thirties and you haven’t met some of those original goals you had for yourself. Whether the career field hasn’t panned out as planned, or the white picket fence is seeming more and more elusive – you’ve also found yourself with a mountain of debt, most of it from student loans and frankly, you don’t even want to work in that career choice anyway. The bills continue to pile up, and the support from your parents is drying up the further you find yourself out of college and full on into adulthood.
You’ve started to doubt your ability, and your trajectory in life even because the weight of your situation is so heavy. You feel like you’ve taken steps in the right direction, but each time you do – you get kicked back two steps further.
This particularly sign is really important to call out because it starts to play tricks with your mind, impact your mindset, and your overall wellness at times. Discouragement, second guessing yourself and your ability can wreak havoc on all parts of your life. If there was a sign that was ‘most’ important I think this may be it – because possibility, options, and as cheesy as it sounds – a new lease on life is completely possible with better control of your finances.
See the comparison of clients that know what they want – and what they don’t want.
“I’d own a house, not have debt, and probably be in a job that I liked as opposed to a job that I need to pay the bills.”
“If something doesn’t change I’ll be miserable. Stuck, stagnant and wasting time.”
“A majority of our relationship stress is money related, I want that to be gone.”
6. You feel like you don’t have any options.
Things are fine, bills are paid and by all intents and purposes you’re doing well financially. But you’ve found yourself with few options. If you wanted to stay home and raise babies – it’s nearly out of the question because your salary is necessary to pay the bills. Gone are the days of the single income household. Perhaps you want to switch up careers and you need some time to dedicate to that education and ramp up with a change and that’s scary – not for just the typical job change scares but financially it would be a real stretch to go backwards for a length of time.
You can’t help but wonder that if you had a few more of your debts paid off, it would make a transition or change a lot more agreeable. You’d have options. Nobody puts baby in a corner. Except someone did, and that someone was you.
This was my story.
Back in 2013, as I was unpacking the boxes of our latest move, adding up our debts both in terms of overall debt and monthly payments I realized that even if I wanted to stay home to teach our daughters their ABC’s and 123’s I didn’t really have that option – my salary was a necessary number to add to our equation of bills and payments. We didn’t have much wiggle room. To motivate me to do something different with our finances, I need options. It was worth trying, and my husban and I haven’t looked back.
What do these signs or stories have in common?
There are some similar themes and underlying currents here, with two great questions to ask yourself.
Are you willing to do something different in order to get something different?
In other words, are you willing to look at more than just the math and focus on behavior change?
Shocking, right?! Most of the ‘money management’ game is not a math problem but a mixture of habits and behaviors. And that with some revision will make everything click. Being ready for change is KEY in making progress.
Looking at just the numbers is like a fad diet. It might get you results for a bit, but it’s not sustainable. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is what is going to be the difference for sustainable change. Same goes with your financial lifestyle. Must address behavior for long lasting change.
Is this the right time in your life to be a priority?
We all have a dozen different things we’re working on or toward. Finances or money management are often on the list on some level. But, is it enough of priority to be in your top 3 right now? Is doing something different more of a need to do, than a nice to do?
You’ve gotta be motivated enough to get up and go the gym, or say no to the after dinner bowl of ice cream each night…or whatever that equates to in your life as it comes to your finances.
Perhaps you’re positively motivated because you can’t wait to see your debt decrease, or savings increase, or you know that the quality of your relationship will improve with this money management thing figured out.
Maybe you’re negatively motivated and SO over the stress and anxiety that money has been in your life that you’re going all in because you want all of that negativity behind you.
Doesn’t matter which direction your motivation comes from. It has to be strong enough for change to be a priority for you.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, and you’re ready to do something different, join me for a free webinar this month.
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