By guest blogger, Jeff Dade, Director, Family Stability Initiatives, United Way of Pierce County
"I did it again! I promised myself I wouldn’t use the card this time. How am I ever going to make headway on this credit balance or get the new tires I need? I’m horrible with money!"
"My girls will never have it as bad as I did growing up. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they have the best of the best. I’ll figure out how to come with the money for bills later."
"I can’t believe this bank. I’ve been a customer for years and they won’t forgive this little mistake. Sure, I’ve had a lot of NSF’s recently, but doesn’t loyalty mean anything anymore?"
"No, I don’t want to see my credit. That stuff is confusing and it probably doesn’t matter anyway. I’m pretty sure mine is bad."
I’ve spent 25 years in finance with the last five, focused wholly on financial well-being and these comments are paraphrases that clients have consistently shared. Coaching thousands of people has given me a rare view into a “forbidden” world. Somehow it gets passed on that we must always show a strong front when it comes to money. Yet, virtually everyone has money problems. For some that may just mean making critical decisions, but others face dire situations daily; many of them with long-term repercussions.
In honor of National Financial Goal Day I’d like to quickly share a few things with you:
1) My personal message, 2) A definition for financial well-being and 3) Some strategies to move forward. Let’s begin!
1) Shame OFF you! You are resilient, whole, and able to make changes in your life. If you’re like me, you didn’t grow up with any financial education other than what not to do (and I still did it). Remember that money is emotional and money shame unsettles us, keeping us from making our best choices or seeking help. Finally, you are never weak for accepting financial guidance. In fact, it’s a point of pride for the affluent to regularly have multiple advisors their lives.
2) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ‘s national survey and research coalesced to define American financial well-being. It says that we feel the most financially capable when we:
· have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances
· have the capability to absorb a financial shock
· are on track to meet financial goals, and
· have the financial freedom to make choices that allow one to enjoy life
Makes sense, right? Most folks read that and nod their heads, but it’s not enough to just state the truth. What are we going to do about it? Here’s a very quick snapshot for clarity and self-assessment. Visualize your life and consider this path below:
3) At United Way's Center for Strong Families we adopt an Earn, Keep, Grow attitude and offer free financial and employment coaching along with benefits screening at seven locations throughout Pierce County. Our staff is trained with robust national industry standards so that they can be your trusted partner. There’s no judgment, just good work that matters and a proven track record. Since 2016, our clients have continued to make the decision to commit themselves to their own financial well-being and self-sufficiency in areas like budgeting, credit upgrades, debt reduction, savings development, cash management, and more.
So, back to those four measures of financial well-being. Here are some ways to make them actionable right now:
- Use a budget form regularly together with automation (online bill pay, banking apps, etc.) to control and maintain your mental money picture.
- Start as small as you need to, but open that savings account and ask HR to make a separate direct deposit into it every payday. You’re allowed to use your emergency fund as a buffer, but don’t negate its existence by transferring all the time. Set it and forget it…until you need it.
- If you don’t state your goals, how will you ever know you made it? Think about what you REALLY want. At the end of our lives, most of us value people and experiences over stuff (yes even over cars). Does your money reflect your real values?
- Find accountability partners. Take some time to discuss this with people you trust, then write your goals down. You can even post them around the house for reinforcement. This will help you to live without regret and buyer’s remorse.
I hope this message helps you or someone you know. We’re dedicated to the financial self-sufficiency movement, but we know we can never be fully successful without your help. Share this with someone you know. Start conversations at home, work, church, and the gym. Shining the light on financial well-being and making it commonplace takes the power of money shame away. Let us know if we can help and best of luck as you personalize your financial goals today. Learn more about our Center for Strong Families.