When I speak to my clients for the very first time, one of the questions I have is about their previous experiences in reaching out for help with their money problems. Have they worked with any assistance programs? Have they worked with a budget app or another financial counselor? Do they use any resources today that help them track their money? I ask this because for many, they have tried numerous ways to get in control of their finances and I want to ask them what makes them think that I can help them. This is not a question to come off as rude or implying that they cannot meet the challenge, I simply want to know why they are seeking something different. Do they know why they are seeking another chance for change? Is it really their own motivation? I just want to hear their response. Let me explain why this is such an important question in my practice.
Too Many Tools?
You’re on your 5th program to get in control of your finances. You tell me that you’ve worked with a financial program, but they kept asking you for information and stated that they just never seemed to have everything they needed. You’ve attempted several apps and admitted that you just never took the time to plug things in completely and rarely took notice to the alerts. You worked with a financial counselor, but she gave you homework that didn’t seem necessary and felt like a one size fits all experience. You kept a budget log, but it was too time consuming to keep it updated. After hearing all these experiences, I get a very clear picture and how I can customize your service that best fits you.
It’s not all about the money. I mean that in a behavioral sense of how every individual handle stress, habits, and the needing to feel comfortable. Being self-aware of your own successes and failures is what makes you accomplish and fail in your future unless you get uncomfortable. Now, that being said, there are some people that are not tech savvy. It is not in you DNA. So, a budget app was never going to work for you. It could be learned, but is it enjoyable? Probably not, so it will not be sustainable. You would not enjoy sitting in an office talking to someone about how your past experiences affect your emotions towards money today. I get that. That’s okay! The point is this, the sooner you dig deep within yourself and know what you can do and what you can’t do, only then will you see progress. And let’s be honest, accomplishing anything that’s worth it requires you to work a bit. No financial counselor is going to let you not participate because it cannot be done. We don’t strive for forever clients. We want to help you learn the skills and move on. You’ve got to want it more than us and we know the difference.
Be YOU to Solve Problems
After hearing all these experiences, I instantly take my mind from your money troubles and zero in on your character. It’s difficult for you to finish things. You may find tedious work not for you and the idea of spending time gathering information is agonizing to you. THIS is where we start! Although, there is going to be needing of sharing information, we try to minimize the workload by going through some options. No forms to fill out with account numbers – instead send me your e-bill and let me do the rest. You don’t want to analyze your weekly expenditures – that’s fine! Eventually these skills and tasks will be learned. Just not in the way that you think, and we develop a plan that helps you do this in the future.
The secret in making any change in life is not stopping to gaze at the mountain. Celebrate small wins and make challenging, daunting tasks personable and enjoyable so you can sustain them for the rest of your life. Let’s face it, no change is fun when it comes to getting in control of your money. In the beginning it feels like we have such a long way to go. When financial counselors offer programs for 3 or 6 months long, that does not mean your problem goes away in that time. It means that you will learn the skills to eventually make those problems go away. When you make the decision to get in control of your money, we as financial counselors try to get you to understand this. This is not a small endeavor. It’s huge!
Discipline & Consistency Win
When and if you decide to take on your money troubles once and for all, please go into it knowing that those troubles are not going away overnight or even next year. It takes time. But know this. Everyday you procrastinate is a day not spent in a world where you buy things that are of value to you and the price tags of things no longer are the deciding factor. If you are making that decision to change your money habits, don’t waste your time and money going into something you know you’re not going to be able to keep up on your own. It is not shameful to admit you cannot do something. The greatest advice I give anybody is to know when to hire somebody to do a job that you can’t. You save yourself time, stress, and money.
If you’ve tried to fix your money problems numerous times, before you embark on another resource to help, look at what you’ve tried in your past. What did you like? What did you enjoy doing that made a difference? What did you have to do that you just cringe when you think about having to do it today? What small thing can you see yourself doing everyday? Those are all things that either will push your forward or hold you back. Know those things and get to know them well because these things go beyond fixing your money problems. They can help you make change anywhere.
You’re worth it.