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Justin Harris AAMS
Socially Responsible Investing; Financial Planning
Seattle, Washington
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Three Strategies For Overcoming Financial Inertia

Trying to build your business when your personal finances are in shambles?  But what's your next move after reading countless articles and books and you still feel stuck? What's the alternative to simply closing your eyes and crossing your fingers?

Written Jun 09, 2008, read 1685 times since then.
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The time has come. You're inspired to make dramatic changes and take those next steps of attending to your personal finances. And then, before you know it, procrastination has set in and you feel more muddled than inspired. How can you break the cycle of avoidance? How can you get—and keep—the ball rolling?

#1 Name your resistance

Go beyond the excuse of being ‘too busy’, and give a name to what is holding you back. Is it laziness? Fear of failure? Fear of the future? Perhaps it's time to go a bit deeper: do you hold yourself so special (i.e. magical) that you don’t need to be financially responsible? Remember that this isn’t about judging yourself, or trying to fix the problem. It’s simply identifying what your resistance is to growing up concerning your finances. What stories about money do you cling to that result in some degree of suffering for yourself and/or others? If you’re willing to experience some possible discomfort, this quiet practice of increasing your self-awareness and exploring your attachment to Innocence can be a key to moving you forward. The best 'strategy' is to know thyself.

#2 Review your finances regularly

If you’re in a relationship, you reap an unexpected pleasure: reviewing the family finances! Bring out the port wine & chocolate every three months and carefully go over your financial situation. It may not be all sweetness and light, but review the progress (or lack of progress) you’ve made towards your goals. Whether you implement more boundaries on spending or re-negotiate goals, these meetings will seldom be dull!

Sometimes I’ll work with couples where one partner has assumed or been delegated the role of ‘family financier.’ This convenient arrangement often turns into a source of major conflict further down the road. I’ll encourage these couples to foster a joint awareness of their finances and a team approach to important decisions.

Other couples insist on keeping their finances separate, citing ‘independence’ as the motivation. But from a fiscal viewpoint, their financial future is anything but independent. If one partner runs into difficulty before or during retirement, his/her partner will have the overwhelming responsibility of covering both their needs. If partners in a stable, long-term relationship still insist on financial autonomy, perhaps they can dig a bit deeper and name their resistance to integrating their finances.

If you’re single, keeping on top of your finances can be challenging. Without someone to keep us ‘honest’, we can begin to retreat from financial issues or spin fantasies about our money. If appropriate, it may be advisable to confer regularly with a family member (a close sibling tends to work out better than a parent!) or a very good friend. More likely, though, a relationship with a financial professional may be helpful.

#3 Work with a professional.

When our pipes at home are clogged, we call a plumber. When we have a persistent ache or pain, we visit a health practitioner. Needing to draft a will or trust? Time to consult with an attorney. But our culture insists on pretending that anyone can manage all aspects of their finances, particularly their retirement portfolio. The tech stock boom of the late 90’s only bolstered this illusion, when everyone was making money with their eyes closed. Only after the bubble burst did investors again realize that portfolio management demands high degrees of competence and, especially, emotional detachment.

Many people also want support in defining and prioritzing all aspects of their finances, from budgeting to debt management, and from short-term saving plans to retirement planning... someone to coach them and keep them on track. When the time comes to commit, you’ll find many financial professionals to choose from, with one being the perfect match for you.

From The Wealth of an Ordinary Life, 2007, by Justin Harris

 

Learn more about the author, Justin Harris AAMS.

Comment on this article

  • Motivational Speaker/Author/Educator 
Nashville, Tennessee 
Kimberly Carnevale
    Posted by Kimberly Carnevale, Nashville, Tennessee | Jun 10, 2008

    Great article broken down into bite sized, easy to understand pieces. ;-)

  • Trainer and Coach 
Foxboro, Massachusetts 
Jen Vondenbrink
    Posted by Jen Vondenbrink, Foxboro, Massachusetts | Jun 10, 2008

    Hi Justin - How do you address the fact that a person may not have learned from their family to manage their finances? Even though they know what is right, they have not been shown what that looks like. Any ideas?

    Jen Vondenbrink - Life Simplified www.yourlifesimplified.com

  • Seattle Business Coach / Seattle Leadership Coach / Executive Coach / Author / Speaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA
    Posted by Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 11, 2008

    Justin,

    Thank you for addressing self-awareness. Our emotions usually are the ones blocking us from move foward. To be in touch with the resistance is to acknowledge the emotions.

    Jen,

    Knowing itself is not enough to make us taking actions. It's like we all know about eating less and exercising more and yet, weight-losing industry is still big. Our emotion safety/comfort usually win :)

    HsuuanHua

  • Socially Responsible Investing; Financial Planning 
Seattle, Washington 
Justin Harris AAMS
    Posted by Justin Harris AAMS, Seattle, Washington | Jun 12, 2008

    Great input! "Bite-size" works well, both in one action at a time and/or one insight at a time. Jen, I hope you can find a professional in Mass. that you feel comfortable working with... either a coach, counselor, or financial advisor who can be both provocative and supportive at the same time. It's difficult for us to see our blind spots, whether they be about money or other issues. HsuuanHua... your input reminded me of Fritz Perls' quote: "Awareness results in change." No need to panic or try to fix... increased awareness can help raise the level of the water over the stones. Perhaps you and I should meet one day... sounds like there's parallels in our work.

  • Socially Responsible Investing; Financial Planning 
Seattle, Washington 
Justin Harris AAMS
    Posted by Justin Harris AAMS, Seattle, Washington | Jun 12, 2008

    Jen, I saw that you're a coach! A good book for you might be George Kinder's The Seven Steps of Money Maturity. A bit wordy, but very helpful in discovering where we cling regarding financial behaviors that don't serve us well. Or you can give me a call and I can send you my own handbook, The Wealth of an Ordinary Life.

  • Trainer and Coach 
Foxboro, Massachusetts 
Jen Vondenbrink
    Posted by Jen Vondenbrink, Foxboro, Massachusetts | Jun 12, 2008

    Thanks for all of the help Justin. I'm going to use your advice with my client where I think this is a big issue for them. I will also look at The Seven Steps of Money Maturity.

    This is an area that I don't have a lot of experience in coaching and is not the issue we are working on, but it is a part of the overall resistance.

    I'll be in touch!

    Jen

  • Commercial Photographer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steve Sonheim
    Posted by Steve Sonheim, Seattle, Washington | Jun 12, 2008

    Thanks for the article Justin. My wife and I are both artists and have clung to the "special Person" thing for a long time. We are now in the process of moving and restarting our careers.

    You mentioned finding professional help; how do we find that person? We need someone to help us plan and grow beyond just an investment porfolio.

    Thanks, Steve

  • Socially Responsible Investing; Financial Planning 
Seattle, Washington 
Justin Harris AAMS
    Posted by Justin Harris AAMS, Seattle, Washington | Jun 12, 2008

    Steve,

    If you and your wife still live in Seattle (couldn't tell) you can enroll in one of my classes. There's a 1 1/2 day workshop which focuses on helping students make a big shift in their relationship with money. Go to the University of Washington's Experimental College under 'Business' classes, and you'll see it (Wealth of an Ordinary Life workshop). If you can't make that, call me and I'd be happy to meet with you both for a 'check-up'. If you've already moved from Seattle, call me and I'd be willing to send you a copy of my book -- since you once were a resident of our fair city :)

  • Commercial Photographer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steve Sonheim
    Posted by Steve Sonheim, Seattle, Washington | Jun 12, 2008

    Thanks! We are moving TO Seattle and will check into your classes.

    Steve

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