Sometimes I get stuck. I get overwhelmed. I get anxious. I worry about how I’m going to get it all done. I convince myself that that’s it - I’ve had the last customer I’ll ever have and I’ll officially be outed as a colossal failure. I think that life is often like this, especially as a small business owner; huge ups and huge downs. Exhilarating moments followed by crushing self-doubt.
I see this a lot with clients and readers, too. I did a survey a while back and a few words came up over and over and over. Stuck. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Nervous. Depressed. Frustrated. Inadequate. Does that sound like how you feel about changing your approach to money?
It’s important when making a change to know where you’re starting from. If your goal is to get a faster running pace, the next question is: how fast do you run now? If your goal is to lose weight, “how much?” comes naturally.
So when your goal is to improve your finances, you have to know where you’re starting from.
We get a tickle in our nose, we get a nauseous feeling, we get a headache. Our body experiences pain or discomfort. We feel that pain and we do one of two things - we either treat the symptom (take some pain medication), or we treat the symptom and the underlying disease. We know, from experience, that a symptom rarely is a finite, disconnected thing. It’s usually the tip of the iceberg that we can see or feel, signaling a bigger issue underneath. Sometimes that’s a routine issue like a cold or flu, but sometimes it’s something bigger.
Money sickness is a real thing, too. Here are some of its symptoms - recognize any?
Budgeting can feel like a chore. It takes up time, it takes up your mental energy and space. It requires a new habit in your life that’s already really busy and frankly, you’re having a hard enough time as it is keeping up with all the other ‘shoulds’. You ‘should’ exercise more, you ‘should’ be drinking more water and less wine, you ‘should’ be making home-cooked meals for your kids every day, you ‘should’ call your mother more often, you ‘should’ be saving for retirement and saving for college and...ugh. It’s a lot of ‘should’s.
So why ‘should’ you be adding budgeting to that list?
A budget *should* be pretty simple, right? You figure out how much money you make, and how much money you have going out, and whatever’s left is for saving or spending money. But let me guess...you’ve tried that, and it didn’t really work. So you find yourself at your trusty google asking the world what you’re missing.
I could write a book about what’s missing here, but in a nutshell...
When you’re trying to save money, one of the first things you do is look through your expenses and try to cut unnecessary spending. You’ll pull back on eating out, you’ll think about cutting the cord with the cable company, switch to generic brands for a while, stuff like that. This is the natural impulse, and it is a good impulse. Overall, doing this can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year.
But, there’s one area of your spending that you should not cut but you’ll be sorely tempted to. That area is your “blow money”.
I think about money a lot. I think about how I use it, how I can better use it, how I can help others use it differently. How I can teach about it better. How I can show my daughter how to use it well and not feel bad about herself in the process. Thinking about money is my actual job.
I’m really practical about money. Sometimes to a fault (just ask my spouse!). But there’s something about daydreaming about winning the lottery that gets anyone, myself included, feeling less practical. But only to an extent - I can’t turn off my budgeting-love that easily. So what would I do if I won the lottery?