Whenever I teach financial literacy, I’m shocked at what people know and are willing to do with their money.
Each class begins with a revealing discussion around wants versus needs.
Most students have no idea what the difference is which leads to arguments when certain suggestions are made.
During one passionate discussion, a woman repeatedly said she was not able to save money. Her reason: she didn’t make enough.
I quickly hopped in with-you have three options: save more, spend less or do both.
After five minutes of hemming and hawing, it was discovered that between a healthy weed habit and cosmetic upkeep (hair, nails and the rest of the glam shit that keeps you stylish and broke as hell), she was continuously pissing away more than $500 per month.
I suggested home manicures and purchasing less weed.
She’d never considered these options.
Recently and advertently, I was given a great concept regarding behavior versus results.
Apparently, behavior is what creates results.
This is why when I’ve tried to go right for the behavior change it didn’t work.
What I should have done instead is ask about the results they were attempting to create and then backed it up with a list of behaviors to support and usher in the desired results.
Results are tricky because if they are not emotionally connected they will fail miserably.
Behaviors are easier to model, adjust and eliminate if they are not moving us towards our desired goal. Behaviors are all about stopping this or starting that. And it is easy to trace them in an effort to view the cause and effect relationship between the two.
When my wonderful grandson stayed with me for the Summer, we co-created a superb chart that documenting his self chosen behaviors yielding self chosen results.
We rewarded behavior we wanted to see more of by allowing him to select the outcomes he was most inspired by.
This simple and effective plan worked.
I have been raking my brain for months trying to figure out how to reapply this same principle to myself and others financially.
How would this work?
Here’s something else you probably don’t already know.
According to Mel Robbins nobody ever wakes up and says- “this is the day I ruin my life”.
None of us actively works to make bad decisions that keep us broke, desperate and stupid.
We make a series of small choices (that are fun, quick and sanctioned by our confused and fearful friends) that pull us away from being in control of our money.
Fear and being comfortable allows us to make decisions that cause harm and confusion. As humans, we are at our most creative when convincing ourselves that things aren’t “so bad” and why reach for more or demand more of ourselves. When we look at our lives, we are told to be grateful not excited, not passionate.
Being scared and comfortable causes us to stay stuck and unable to make better decisions that would lead to better results.
Fear and our refusal to look at its influence on what we will allow ourselves to have is the root of all resistance to change.
Fear is often referred to as the great unknown or the ever popular “fear of success”. This is another big lie for the world to ingest. Dig a bit deeper with any one and they can definitely identify what terrifies them- upsetting an intimate partner, what their friends will think, what their parents will say.
Screwing up your financial life requires some serious denial and flat our refusal to own your shit about the shit that owns you.
To make a financial change we must deal with our emotions around money and the current lifestyle we’ve created.
Even with all the ways we screw ourselves over financially, there is hope.
We must create an effective, easy to follow plan that will ensure financial success.
Most of us plan by default.
It is important that we have a known starting point and clear “purpose filled” end game.
Six years ago, we began discussing buying a home. Afraid to look at my credit report and being told that I wouldn’t qualify for a home, I relied on my husband to emotionally support me as I ventured into unfamiliar arenas (mortgages, realtors).
After one year of saving money for a down payment, checking and improving my credit and understanding that people buy and sell houses everyday, we launched into homeownership and begin dealing with the next steps of dealing with all the challenges that home ownership presents.
Having an end goal in mind and a solid plan, we were able to make this dream a reality.
Planning will limit the possibility of future problems and allow you to deal with present and unplanned for inconveniences.
Inconveniences are handled via an emergency fund. Emergencies occur when life happens (a costly car repair, leaky roof or exploding toilets) and you lack the personal funds to quickly and professionally handle them.
One day after buying my car both toilets in my home blew up to the tune of $2,500.
And here’s the most important part of this …
After I stopped screwing over myself financially then developed a consistent financial plan, I was able to develop a life of my choosing.
My life is filled with love and constant opportunities. As a result, I’m able to help those that I love.
Whether lending money or listening attentively because my mental bandwidth is not crowded with personal problems and financial worries, my life supports me in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago.
Although I’m passionate about acting and writing and studied both for more than a decade, my new financial clarity allows me to think about creativity and long term goals differently.
For many years my acting career was all about fighting to get what I want and having much to prove.
Once I began handling my finances and successfully implementing new plans, my career focus moved from being the movie star to writing interesting stories. Moving away from desperation and into what truly brought me joy was a revelation.
Approaching life from the standpoint of what can I give and what can we create together allowed me to interact and support individuals committed to growth and personal evolution.
Whether spending two wonderful weeks in Greece writing and interacting with artists from all over the world or joining a group of screenwriters eager to tell overlooked stories, it is important to remember to deliberately “plan” our lives.
As Jim Ron stated: If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”