When your mailbox is flooded with what seems like an endless stream of credit card statements, you might feel like you’re failing financially. Every bill reminds you of how much you’ve spent and how much you owe. And chances are that some of those expenses are things that you have already consumed and forgotten, but are still paying for.
Although most clients seek my services for health and wellness counseling, there’s usually an undertone of financial stress that laces every conversation. For most people, figuring out finances is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. You twist, turn, and spin but you still can’t get things lined up correctly or on the right sides. Financial problems can be overwhelming, frustrating and make you feel like you’re in a dead end.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you want to live well and build a solid future for your family, you’ll need to start addressing your finances. Avoiding them only creates more problems down the road. Here are steps to help you gain confidence, conquer your financial fears, and get your finances back on track when you’ve dug yourself into a hole.
3 Steps to Conquer Your Financial Fears
1. Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Forgiveness can be a challenge, especially when the person you’re trying to forgive is yourself. But this is the very first step to moving forward. We are often harder on ourselves than on anyone else. But you will not be able to move forward and conquer your financial fears if you don’t forgive first. Recognizing past mistakes – but not dwelling on them – will help you move forward to remedy your finances. If you’ve been hiding from your finances, this may seem really hard but it’s a must.
One – or even several – financial mistake doesn’t define you. It doesn’t mean you’re not good at handling money. Having a slip or a landslide doesn’t mean your financial future is ruined. Continuing to carry these thoughts around will hinder your financial recovery and may just keep you in the vicious cycle.
Financial Education Resources
You see, you are not alone if you’re having financial trouble. Money skills are something that most of us don’t learn through formal education. Many of us didn’t even learn these skills before leaving the nest. So if you’ve had some financial troubles you fall within the norm. And the great news is that you can learn these skills now. It’s never too late to equip yourself with financial knowledge and turn things around. Here are a few of my favorite resources for financial education:
2. Get Professional Help
If your money situation is beyond what you can manage on your own, it may be time for professional financial assistance. You may be struggling to create a budget or decide how to save and invest for retirement. There is an abundance of professionals that can help you, from financial planners, financial advisors, and even coaches – there is someone to help you get your family’s finances back on track.
A financial planner or advisor can help you to weed through setting up a family budget. They can help you evaluate any areas of weakness and create a plan for saving and investing. Search for a “fee-only” financial planner with a fiduciary responsibility. This means that they will advise on your best interest, not what will earn them a larger commission. Search for a licensed advisor through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Before you meet with your advisor, planner or coach – just like I advise you to do before your doctor’s appointments – make a list of your concerns, issues, and questions. These might be related to budgeting, saving, retiring, paying for college, your mortgage, medical bills, and anything else. This is your opportunity to dive in and get clarity around all the things that have been clouding your financial vision.
If hiring a professional is too much for you right now, there are other ways to get back on track with your finances. You might consider getting an accountability partner or joining a support group.
3. Utilize Technology
In addition to hiring financial help, you can also use technology to help you with your finances. Fintech (financial technology) apps can help you to keep track of your budgeting and spending, helping you to stay on track towards your financial goals. Many of these apps also answer our most common financial questions. Here are some suggestions:
If you have trouble sticking to your saving plan, an app may be the solution. Apps like these will help you to automate all of this, making sure your savings balance grows without you having to do much. Once you identify your saving goals, the app does the rest. Here are a few to look at:
If you’re a newbie investor and not quite ready to hire a portfolio manager, a robo-advisor may be the right solutions. What’s a robo-advisor? It’s an online, automated portfolio management service. They use computer algorithms, rather than actual financial professionals, to give you investment recommendations based on your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. A few of these are:
Most robo-advisors have low deposit requirements and affordable fees. But be sure to research them thoroughly to choose the right tool for your family’s financial needs.
The bottom line is when it comes to personal (or family) finance, it’s best to take action. Even a few small steps can help you to conquer your financial fears and get back on track. Avoiding your financial issues only creates bigger problems down the road. Start with one small step to help you repair your family’s financial situation for a healthier financial future.