Financial Wellness

Overcoming Financial Paralysis

I was newly divorced, raising 3 daughters, when I got tax bills for over $1m. My ex was responsible, but he left the country…leaving me with very little in the bank. My father refused to lend me the money. I was angry and terrified. I had no choice. I had to get smart about money.

I tried going to classes, reading books, but nothing made sense. I felt immobilized. Nowhere in those books or classes could I find a solution for my paralysis. Until I took matters in my own hands.

I stopped focusing on the practical mechanics of money and started plumbing the deepest recesses of my psyche. Writing in my journal proved profoundly revealing.

I became aware of a familiar voice that kept telling me how stupid I was. Instead of ignoring it or letting it hold sway, as I always did, I began a dialogue with that voice, asking it where it came from and what it wanted.

I immediately heard my father telling me, often and in no uncertain terms, that managing money was a man’s job. As a woman, I did not have what it took to deal with finances.

So of course, I was terrified that if I tried to take charge, I’d botch things badly, blow it all.

Becoming a Woman of Influence

At last. We have cause to celebrate. A major shift has been occurring in women’s relationship with money since the 2008 financial crisis.

As a result of that crisis—according to an Allianz Study, Women, Wealth, and Power—a new demographic is emerging, Women of Influence. These women aren’t necessarily high earners, or even gainfully employed, though many are.

What sets them apart is that they’re financially knowledgeable, Allianz reports, “more confident in their ability to spend, save, invest wisely than the average woman,”

And these Women of Influence are becoming global change makers, claiming their power, owning their greatness.

The Secret to Investing Wisely–Understand the Investment Pyramid

Let me introduce you to the Investment Pyramid. Understanding this pyramid was a game changer for me.

Decades ago, a wealthy family friend urged me to invest in a Limited Partnership, calling it a “an exciting opportunity.”

I didn’t know that a Limited Partnership was illiquid and I couldn’t sell my shares, even as I watched the company go bust.

When I told my accountant this story, he drew a triangle, divided it into 4 levels, explaining this represented the whole world of investing. My mistake was starting at the top.

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Wealth Building Made Simple…Very, Very Simple!

You’d love to be wealthy, right? But then immediately reject the idea as ridiculous. Let me assure you, creating wealth’s a lot simpler than you think. And you don’t need a lot of money to start.

What you do need is enough discipline to obey The 3 Rules of Wealth:

1. Spend Less—never spend money you don’t have. If you can’t pay off your credit cards in full each month, stop using them.

2. Save More—pay yourself first. Ideally, 10% of your income goes straight into savings. But $10 a month is totally fine. The idea is to get in the habit of saving.

3. Invest Wisely—put at least a portion of your money into assets will grow faster than inflation and taxes take it away, like stocks, bonds and real estate.

All 3 are critical. But Investing Wisely is how wealth is created. It’s also the rule that stymies most people.

Observations From a Financial Therapist: Money Problems Are Never About Money

Let me give you my perspective on why you’re having money problems. This comes from 25 years working as a Financial Therapist.

You know that financial difficulty you’re facing—big or small? It’s about far more than money. It is, in truth, the call of your Soul trying to get your attention.

This problem actually provides you with a powerful opportunity for personal transformation. But what begins as a whisper will, if ignored, grow increasingly louder.

When you finally decide to face your difficulty, you begin the process of becoming all you’re meant to be.

Confronting and solving a Financial Challenge is what opens the door between the life you now live and the life you could be creating. On the other side of that door lies your power.

Rewiring Your Brain for Higher Earnings

In my book, Overcoming Underearning, there’s a story about a snail climbing a cherry tree in the middle of winter. A beetle looks down, spies the snail slowly inching up the frozen bark, and cries out, “There ain’t no cherries up here.”

Unfazed, the snail replies, “There will be by the time I get there.”

That little snail offers us a potent formula for financial success. Think big. Act small. And, no matter what, never, ever stop until you attain your goal.

The idea is that if you do something everyday, no matter how small, no matter how brief, you will eventually arrive at your destination.

But it’s not just the practical, external steps that matter. The inner work is a critical factor.

Willpower Won’t Work! Rewire to Spend Less

You swear, starting today, you’re going to curb your spending. And you really mean it. Until….

You spy an online ad for this adorable summer dress that’s to die for. Later, you flip through the Costco catalogue and that Vitamix Blender you’ve been eyeing is on sale.

Without thinking, you whip out your card, make your purchase and you feel great. Until the bill comes. Then you remember your vow and beat yourself up for not having more will-power.

BUT WAIT! According to the latest research, all the will power in the world may not be enough. Blame it on your brain.

A recent study did brain scans on people who planned to buy with credit cards and those planning to use cash. They discovered a notable disparity in brain activity between the two groups.

“Buying on credit doesn’t just ease shoppers’ inhibitions,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “It actively encourages purchases.”

The Conversation No One Wants to Have. But You’ll Be Sorry If You Don’t.

This year would’ve been my father’s 95th birthday. It got me thinking about the day I went to my mother, wondering what my Dad, who was seriously ill, had planned for her after he passed.

I was terrified to ask her that question. When I finally screwed up the courage, she made it abundantly clear: this was not a conversation she wanted to have.

I made it even clearer: avoidance was not an option. Here’s what happened next:

1. We had “The Talk.” I had Mom sit down with Dad and look at all their financial documents: bank statements, investments, estate planning, etc. This was not, by any means, an easy conversation. Nerves were frayed. Mom glazed over. Dad lost patience. I kept scratching my wrist (a nervous habit) until it bled. But by the end, Mom knew where every penny was and what arrangements he had (and hadn’t) made.

2. We assembled “ The Team.” My Dad was very much a do-it-yourselfer. Mom needed the support of professionals. First my sisters and I found an estate lawyer and together my parents created a very good, tax efficient estate plan. Then we helped her find an investment advisor and a CPA. She still meets with her team on a regular basis to this day.

The Trinity of Trust

Years ago, I trusted my husband with my money. He was a stockbroker after all. But, alas, he lost almost everything. After our divorce, I was terrified to trust anyone again.

Then at some point it dawned on me. I couldn’t just ignore money. I needed to start trusting myself. But how? I was financially clueless.

If you’re in a similar situation, let me introduce you to what I’ve come to call the Trinity of Trust. It’s how I began the journey of reclaiming my power and taking financial responsibility

As I spent time connecting with each point on this triangle, I found myself building a firm foundation of trust in myself, in others who were trustworthy, and in the my Higher Power.

Are You a Victim of Financial Abuse? 10 Red Flags

Financial abuse is a serious form of domestic violence, but no one ever really talks about it.

While financial abuse is devastating, many, like me, may be totally unaware it’s happening to them.

In the beginning, financial abuse can be so subtle it’s easily misinterpreted as a loving gesture.

“I don’t want finances to stress you,” my first husband would say to me. “Let, me take care of the money and I’ll give you what you need.”

However, as in my case, the abuser’s efforts to control will, in time, escalate into intimidation, threats of violence and often, physical harm.

How do you know if you’re a victim? Here are 10 Red Flags. Read them carefully and circle the ones that apply to you:

  1. Your partner refuses to talk about money. They get defensive, angry or accusatory.
  2. Your partner goes on spending binges, buying expensive items you really can’t afford.
  3. Your partner racks up debt on your credit card.
  4. Your partner frequently gambles, at the casino, the race track, or in the stock market.
  5. You get frequent calls from creditors, which your partner dismisses or assures you everything is ok.
  6. Your partner keeps saying you don’t have enough to buy certain items, which doesn’t make sense based on your incomes.
  7. Your partner uses money to control you or restricts your access to money.
  8. You question their financial decisions, and they immediately turns the table and makes you wrong.
  9. You notice how often you excuse, justify, rationalize their behavior to others and yourself.
  10. Your gut tells you something is wrong.

If even one of these red flags feels even remotely familiar, I urge you to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 (SAFE). They are there, 24/7, to give you the help, information and resources you need.

Have you been affected by financial abuse? Share in the comments below. Your story could help someone else.

Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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