The stories in my blogs all illustrate that if you alter your relationship to money, your life and world will be a different place. This is especially true in the arena of personal finance. If we investigate the issues we have about money, implement a new money message, and take actions aligned with it, money will no longer be a source of suffering. I quote here Judy’s story at length, because of how well it illustrates, step by step, how she followed these concepts and how it affected her relationship to her personal finances.
At the time I took the Caring for Your Soul in Matters of Money® workshop, life had not been kind. Since the finalization of my divorce a year before, I had been struggling financially. I had not received the divorce payout that was due from my ex-husband and had no savings. I was juggling every month to make ends meet with two daughters at home and one in college.
It was obvious to me that I was a worrier, but what I discovered in the workshop was that not everyone operated with the same constant, nagging mental chatter that I did.
I also discovered my money baggage: I have to work hard, I’m not supposed to want anything, and I don’t deserve anything anyway.
Standing in the shower in the mornings or while driving back and forth to work, I would always do mental arithmetic. I’d be trying to figure out how much the bills were,
how to pay them, and still have money for groceries or any unexpected things that might come up.
I rarely balanced my checkbook, so I really didn’t know how much I had available for paying the bills. I usually didn’t pay bills by the due date because I never wanted to let
go of the money. I might write the checks and seal the envelopes, but not mail them for a few days. The whole schizoid attitude was instrumental in feeding my worrier nature.
At the workshop, I created my new money message: I have plenty to live freely and give freely.
I decided to really discipline myself to think my money message and take actions consistent with it instead of with my money baggage. I posted my money message on the bathroom mirror, in my checkbook, and in the middle of my car’s steering wheel.
I worked out a money plan for the next twelve months so I could see what my expenses and income were. The money plan clearly showed that I didn’t have enough income to cover my monthly expenses. Yikes!
Yet instead of going into my worrier tailspin, I decided to get a second job to help cover all the expenses and get out of the hole I was in. Almost immediately I was offered a job that I could do on the weekends and get paid a substantial amount per hour. I worked that job for a year until I had the income I needed to pay all my expenses every month.
I set up an accounting program on my computer and got a new bank account so I could download all the bank transactions directly into the accounting program. I categorized all the expenses so I could see where my money was really going and if I was on target with the money plan I set up for myself. As I tracked all my expenses, I went back to the plan and modified it as I began to get a clearer picture of how much I actually spent each month and on what.
I also set up as many of the bills as possible to direct debit out of my checking account, so I didn’t have to be bothered with writing checks and mailing them. Since I had a steady job and got a paycheck twice a month, all I had to do was get my paycheck deposited in a timely manner. I contacted my creditors and asked to change some of the due dates on my bills to make my cash flow work better. I made some
substantial payments on my three credit cards every month until I paid them off.
I worked with the Child Support Services and began to receive the monthly child support that was due, instead of listening to my money baggage, which says, “I am not supposed to want anything, and I don’t deserve anything anyway.”
One of my daughters wanted to go back to playing cello in the school orchestra and I told her she could because music is one of her passions. At the time, I didn’t have any
way to pay for the rental of the cello, but I was listening to my money message, I have plenty to live freely and give freely and knew we would come up with a way to make it work. As we were enrolling her in the orchestra class at school, the music teacher said she had a cello she could use. She walked us back to the music classroom, went to the storage closet, and took out the cello. My daughter was thrilled.
Another daughter had been attending the same private school for years. As I came to see the reality of my financial situation, I told the school’s director that she would not be able to attend the following year because it was no longer affordable for me. The director said that my daughter’s presence in the school made a contribution to the school and she insisted she attend. The director told me I should pay whatever I could afford. I paid about a quarter of the normal tuition for the next two years until she graduated.
I worked with my daughter in college to get financial aid so she could complete the last two years of college, which she was able to do.
I began contributing to my favorite charitable organization every month.
When the kids asked for things, I could say yes or no based on knowing where I stood financially. This is a much calmer, saner, more peaceful way to operate instead of the
old way where I would say yes to almost everything and then fret about how to make the money work.
Each month on the spreadsheet showing the monthly expenses and income, I also kept a list of items that did not fit into the budget; this became our wish list. The items
on it were both large and small—vacation, driving school tuition, a car for my youngest daughter, a guitar, camera, etc. Interestingly, many of these things began to show up.
For example, a co-worker said she was going to sell the car of her recently deceased mother. It was the perfect first vehicle for my youngest daughter. I bought it from my
co-worker at a bargain price and she was excited that it was going to someone who would really appreciate it.
Although having all the material things “show up” has been good, what have been the best results are the other less tangible ones like:
- Having peace of mind, not the old fretting, worrying, anxiety, and mental gymnastics.
- Being responsible, not avoiding things, just standing firmly in my money message and making choices.
- Feeling confident, experiencing success and using the evidence of my successes as my stepping stones for whatever is next.
- Using creativity and inventiveness, finding the means to do and have things beyond what I had done before. This often means asking others for help—something I would never do when operating from my money baggage, as I always had to work hard and not want anything.
- Being excited about life, enjoying every day, and laughing a lot.
- Having a vision for the future, allowing myself desires, dreams, and possibilities.
One step at a time, we get closer to a future that becomes our present, where we feel more alert, alive, and aware in our lives. Each step builds on the one before it. Judy’s money situation did not change instantly after she started this work. She just kept putting one foot consciously in front of the other, firmly planting it in her money message. Eventually those steps bore fruit and gave her a sense of direction and control over her personal finances that she had never before thought possible.
Next time – Money Message Principle #21 – Money Message and Family