Did you make a huge financial mistake? If so, you’re likely feeling anxious and even ashamed of your poor financial decision. If you’re feeling shame about a financial misstep, don’t castigate yourself mercilessly. We all make mistakes, so there’s no reason for you to punish yourself. The important part is that you dust yourself off and try to learn from your mistake. Don’t let your emotions rule your money.
Don’t ignore your problem with money
The first step to successfully dealing with your money issues is to attack them head on. You can’t stick your head in the sand and expect a solution. Ignoring your money troubles will only make the problem worse. If no one knows you’re having difficulty, it will be hard to get help. Certified Financial Planner and Psychologist Brad Klontz says those who are in financial denial (a form of money avoidance, which he discusses in his book Mind Over Money), tend to downplay the gravity of their money problems by refusing to think about them. For example, you might refuse to look at a credit card statement.
One way you may attempt to ignore or even hide your problem is to continue to spend money by living a borrowed lifestyle. You may charge trendy clothes and fancy dinners so you can keep up with friends and acquaintances. However, when you pretend you’re not struggling financially, you end up digging yourself into a deeper hole.
Another area where hiding financial trouble can result in a downward spiral is when it comes to managing family finances. If you’re hiding a bad financial habit or a big bill from your spouse, the impact will be much worse if he or she finds out accidentally. Many marriages end not just because of money troubles. Most of the time it’s the financial infidelity that becomes the final straw. It’s bad enough to have a maxed out credit card, but it adds insult to injury if your spouse discovers you lied about it.
Name your money problem
Whether it’s money envy, financial infidelity, or a financial dysfunction you have yet to get a handle on, label exactly what is plaguing your finances. Until you put a name to your money problem, it will be difficult to finally come to terms with the financial chaos taking place in your life. It’s important that you remember not to label yourself — label the problem. Instead of calling yourself a shopaholic, rephrase the statement to reflect that you have a problem with overspending. Or instead of calling yourself a financial cheater, admit that you have a problem with being financially unfaithful. Name and then reframe your financial problem. You’ll find that identifying and then looking at your financial problem through a different lens will give you the motivation you need to take action.
Address financial stress
It can be difficult to work on improving your finances if you are too busy trying to manage the stress of facing financial disaster. One of your first steps should be writing down your financial goals. Goal setting can help you focus on what you need to do to improve your situation. You’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed when you have a clear financial checklist in front of you. You can mark off each goal as you accomplish them. Also take stock of the people in your circle. If you are surrounded by people who are adding to your financial stress (perhaps by constantly asking for a loan and then never repaying it), distance yourself from them. Sometimes getting financially healthy involves removing toxic people.
Hire a financial professional
A certified financial planner can help you draft a plan for your money and get you back on track. Also contact a certified credit counselor to explore your options when it comes to debt repayment. Both of these professionals can offer you guidance on how to not only change bad money habits but also stay in charge of your money.