Can I be blunt with you for a moment?
Truly honest about something that tortures all of us.
Money shame is something that haunts us.
Let me share a recent experience which brought me face to face with the money shame monster.
A new colleague told me she’d read some of my writings on shame and money.
She suggested I write a piece on this topic.
I agreed it was a good idea then quickly changed the topic.
I thought I was beyond not talking about money since I spend so much time teaching young people about it and encouraging new behavior around it.
When Ms. Hollye suggested I write about money, I became engulfed in what Brene Brown refers to as the “warm wash” of shame.
Here are a few cringeworthy money guffaws that still cause my stomach to rumble.
At one point, I forced myself to live on twenty dollars a week on a diet of pizza slices , falafel and heart stopping artery clogging chinese food.
This kept me broke, fat and unhealthty.
What about the time I planned a birthday party at at friends apartment with a loveley side of chips and soda which is what the budget would allow.
Many of my NYC days were spent pinching pennies and proclaiming what true riches were and boasting about my integrity and my unwilingnes to sell my soul to the man to do my art.
I was broke, ashamed and depresseed. This is always a recipe for disaster.
I, nor my immediate circle, was willing to be honest.
What we should have done was simple- Shut our faceholes since we didn’t know shit then make a plan to leaern some shit. Before executing some kick ass action based on something beyond what we knew.
When I was ready to control my finances, it became clear that I’d have to find folks who’d wrested their financial lives and created ongoing economic sufficiency.
Read something by somebody whose learned a thing or two about a thing or two about finances.
With the internet and youtube, there is no reason to ever be a dunce about money.
Much of my life changing tips came from books.
And here’s where it gets sticky…
People refuse and yes I said refuse to read books on finance because most of us a) don’t read and b) feel to embarrassed to admit that when it comes to money we don’t know what the hell we’re doing.
After devouring serveral book and talks about money, I realized that I had deep seated shame about this beast and then created three powerful and ongoing ways to eliminate the shaame.
First, I unearthed my monthly expenses and got super clear around what’s required living wise when you are in different parts of the country.
When I lived in Detroit the first part of the 90’s things were cheaper and I could work a crappy job and still be ok. I loved the job I had at the phone company which allowed me to walk to work, pay rent and save toward my life changing trip to Japan.
All on a $6 an hour job.
Moving to NYC was quite a shock.
My $6 an hour mentality only allowed me to rent a small room in Harlem that costs me $95 a week. When you’re only making $200 a week and have to eat and ride subways this doesnt work. Years of struggle and the belief that I would have to make it to show the world and my parents that I was right tied me to making bad choices.
Shame ruled the day.
The shame of not knowing certain things, the shame of not knowing who to ask about these things, the shame of bieng “too old” “too untrained” or too whatever. All of these things kept me locked in a shame spin cycle unable to make great life affirming choices. This went on for more than a decade and cost me friendships and personal growth.
Second, I learned to wrestle with and eliminate the time bandit.
The it’s-too-late to make a difference so f%ck it way of thinking.
A defeatist attitude like this will prevent you from getting in the arena and kicking some serious boo-tay.
Will it it be easy? Hell No. Will it be simple. You bet.
Here’s the thing- most of life is pretty simple and if we allow it the universe will provide ample and ongoing feedback letting us know to take a detour, try a new approach or stop wasting our time and ditch the project all together. A wise person, whose thinking is steeped in fierce discernment will differentiate options then take some serious action.
Shame lies to us and tells us that we’d be safer remaining in confusion and if we sit in shit long enough some one will come along and help us out.
Shame also lies to us and tells us that we should know certain things by a certain date and time.
In my mid-twenties, I moved in with my mom because honestly, I had no where else to go. She spent a great deal of time letting me know what I should be doing at my age. Whether or not her observations were correct, the Money Shame Monster had been invited in and was glad to do his job. Living with her, I often felt stuck as if things would never change,I’d never be an adult and I’d never be out of her friggin house.
Here’s what turned it around- my desire for change and belief in self got so strong that it crushed that Money Shame Monster long enough for me to think and then execute a new plan.
This new plan forced me to confront some truths and lies about finances.
Here’s one- you’ll never make any money with your college degree (English).
And what about this chestnut-you won’t be able to have your own apartment and will get evicted for non payment.
And here’s a persosnal favorite to ensure I lived a life of poverty and lack- I only need to make $30k a year.
After understanding montlhy expenses and that the time bandit was a hoax in need of a good swift kink in the groceries, I tackled the third and most compelling part of the money shame triumvarate- my personal money blueprint and where I picked up my money habits.
My parents and the elders in my community of origin all grew up poor.
With some hard work, dedication and a severe mindset shift, my folks managed to place themeselves in the middle class (it was the 80’s and they were referred to as yuppies).
Hard work got them onto new fiancial ground; what went unadressed was learned money behaviors and thinking (blueprints).
Since these habits went unexamined, the money shame beast reared its head in interesting ways that derailed superb thinking.
The bigget defeat- there will never be enough (scarcity thinking) and complaining about the evils of money and a lack of understanding about its true power.
Credit card debt, spending beyond their means and no long term thinking left the folks I loved in a constant state of worry and financial upset.
And here’s where it gets inteersting…
One by one I dealt with these money shame mantras and changed my relationship with money by seeing it as a companion and something to be respected.
Here’s a test- if your money choices leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and pacing the floor at night, they need a revamp.
If those choices help you view life’s trickery as periodic inconveniences and not emergencies, life threatening drama and all out tom foolery, your blueprints need to be eliminated and replaced on small habit at a time.
Take a look where are you living out someone’s money shenanigans in ways that cause stress and upset?
Is it time to ” do it differently” or are you fine with the way things are going?