There are people for whom money is not a concern.
(That’s great, except for the subset of people for whom money isn’t a concern but probably should be. I want you to feel financially secure, but only if you are financially secure.)
For the rest of us, for those who money is indeed very much a concern, it begs the question, important but seldom asked: what would you need to feel financially secure?
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Don’t say “more money”
You may never have asked yourself this question, and that’s okay.
The first ideas to get out of the way are the ones that people often think will be the answers, but usually aren’t.
The one that springs immediately to mind is: “If I made more money“.
I’ve talked about the problem with more before. “More” sounds good, but isn’t achievable. There is always “more” and will always be. If you set your sights on “more” you’ll always be striving and never satisfied.
Besides, I know from first-hand accounts that it is possible to have a salary in the hundreds of thousands and not feel like you are financially secure. If you doubt this, think about if you had $100,000 in income…and $100,000 in bills!
Now, if you are making minimum wage and have a family to feed, yes, more money is going to help. But while you don’t always have the ability to make more money, you do have the ability to control what happens to the money that comes in.
Which brings me to my reminder that it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you have. If you have a million bucks in the bank, could you survive on minimum wage? I think you could.
An exercise for you
So let’s go back to what would make you feel financially secure.
The operative word here is “feel”. So start thinking about your feelings. (Apologies, I know this isn’t easy.)
The opposite of security for our purposes is “anxiety”. So: what makes you feel financially anxious?
Write down three situations that make you feel financially anxious. (For this exercise, I recommend a pen and paper.)
Here are some good fill-in-the-blanks to get you started.
I feel anxious when I _________________________________________.
I feel anxious when my partner ______________________________.
I feel anxious when other people ____________________________.
I feel anxious when my family _______________________________.
I feel anxious when my boss _________________________________.
Notice that one of the unifying aspects of the above questions is interpersonal connection. I didn’t make that up out of thin air. While there are lots of kinds, I believe the most elemental and poignant financial anxieties involve other people. I bet you will agree.
Now, after you’ve gotten three sentences down, I want you to flip them around to the opposite. Construct a statement that would be the opposite.
This isn’t trivial. For example, if you feel anxiety when your partner doesn’t spend money in a way that you think is wise, the trivial result is to say, “I feel financially secure when my partner spends money wisely.” But in this case, this isn’t an actionable thought. You can’t make a partner spend money wisely, at least not directly.
So in order to move forward, you may need to think of what that means in terms of actions for you. For example:
- I will engage my partner and explain what my desires are for spending money.
- I will ask my partner what their opinions on spending are, and how they act in terms of these.
- I will listen and understand what my partner has to say.
There are lots of “I” statements here, and that’s important. Your feelings are your own, and they are okay just the way they are. And only you have control of over how you respond to them and act on them. Other people may trigger your anxieties, but it’s how you respond that matters.
Sorry about this
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Other people may trigger your anxieties, but it’s how you respond that matters.[/perfectpullquote]
This is a tricky exercise, and can bring up a lot of painful realizations. I could understand if in reading this you feel compelled to click the Close Tab button and move on to the next site.
But I urge you, at the very minimum, to spend a few seconds to just stop and think about what came up for you instantly, without conscious thought, during the course of reading this.
That is significant. Listen to it. That is where your work is.
Now, imagine if you could let that feeling go, just drift away from you, not to return. Wouldn’t that feel amazing?
You can make that happen. Try going through the above exercise. You’ll see.
But enough about me. What would make you feel financially secure?