MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Strengthen Your Relationship With Money - Don't Give Your Power Away

Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Feb 13, 2013 @ 12:26 PM

strengthen your relationship with moneyGiving your power away when it comes to your money is an age old affliction that affects both men and women, the rich as well as the poor, the famous and the non-famous, the young as well as the old.

Sometimes we give our power away around money because we have fear around money. Or, we’re following an unconscious pattern or script we have yet to become aware of. Often, we simply lack the self-confidence or feel inadequate when it comes to managing our money so we willingly and frequently blindly give our power AND money away to a financial salesperson with a good line of BS.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve met with two potential clients, both single women in their early 60’s. Neither one has a clue about how their money is currently invested, why it’s invested the way it is, how much their investment advisor is charging them to manage their money, what type of investment returns they have had (or not had) and not a clue about the strategy, if there is one.

They have no idea if their investments align with their financial life goals, especially their retirement goals and whether or not their investments are in companies they would find abhorrent.  And don’t even get me started on what they think was the development of their 'financial plan'. What they received instead was a slick sales brochure for high commission loaded mutual funds or annuities posing as a financial plan.

If you think these are isolated cases, think again. It’s very common, especially for women in their late 50’s and 60’s but also for plenty men of the same age. So if you’re in the same boat as those described above or something close to it, please, allow me to let you off the hook, pronto.

School Days

If you’re a baby boomer, think back to being in grammar or high school and see if you can recall how many classes you attended where you were taught the basics of money management. Perhaps you can recall sitting in class and being taught how to use a check book? Maybe if you were lucky, you learned a little about compound interest and how that works? But most likely, that’s about it.

It comes as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I of course sought out what few classes there were on the subject of money - straight through high school and then majoring in tax accounting in college.

I still remember just how many of my schoolmates tuned out during the ‘Money 101’ classes that were offered. Money was then and still continues to be a boring topic for the vast majority of people.

Yet with barely being taught the most basic of basic skills around money and how best to manage it, we’re flung head first as young adults into a financial universe filled with unscrupulous characters posing as financial advisors, financial jargon meant to obfuscate and confuse, an alphabet soup of symbols and secret codes and enough smoke and mirrors to confuse even the savvy investor.

So is it surprising that so many of us willingly or sometimes unwillingly give our power away around money? Of course the answer is no. But does this behavior need to continue because you feel like you were 'terrible in math' so you’ll 'never understand this stuff', or that you’ll feel inferior or inadequate if you ask basic questions, or you lack the self-confidence to be assertive, or you made a couple not so great financial decisions when you were in your 20’s and you’ve yet to forgive yourself and trust yourself again?

Time to forgive yourself and your shortcomings and move forward.

Becoming Financially Empowered

There’s nothing that warms my heart more than when a client feels they can trust me enough to ask the most basic questions about money. For me, that’s a healthy indicator that I’m dealing with someone who is empowered around money or wants to become empowered around money. It also illustrates that together, we’ve created a space where a client can allow themselves to feel vulnerable in order to gain some invaluable money skills.

If you’re someone that has been yearning to feel and become more empowered around your relationship with money - the work begins now and it begins with you. It starts with taking an inventory of your belief system around money. It’s putting all the assumptions about money that you’ve been schlepping around your entire adult life out into the open and shining a light on all of them. What stays, what goes, what’s helpful, what’s harmful.

It’s from this starting point you can begin to honestly assess your relationship with money and begin the work of taking your power back and owning it. To feel empowered around your relationship with money is to feel in control of your destiny. It’s never too late or too early to begin this journey of self-discovery.

Of course, the road to financial empowerment must include my recommendation to read or reread the New York Times bestseller: Your Money or Your Life, Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence.

This seminal book offers you a step by step approach to financial empowerment. It will inspire you and it has the potential to change your life. If you’ve been seeking a way to reclaim your power around money and you’re tired of giving it away, now is the time to make it happen.

Remember, even with an honest, ethical and trustworthy investment advisor managing your money, no one ever will or should care about your money more than you.

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