I Can See Clearly Now
Have you ever looked back on a period of your life and realized that you were walking in a fog? You didn’t know it at the time because the clouds were all around you, but in hindsight, you realized that you were almost lost in that fog for a while.
I have had a number of periods in my life where I was walking in a fog whether it was emotional, financial, or spiritual; and whenever I come out of these fogs, I always think of this song.
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
Clients in a Financial Fog
This weekend, new clients of mine had their first quarterly review, and I felt like this couple had been walking in a financial fog, but our meeting helped lift the clouds for them. All of my clients get report cards in how well they performed for the quarter and these clients got F’s in two big areas, Spending and Saving. What I realized during the call, though, is that the couple didn’t realize they were performing so poorly because they were in the fog.
One of the best things that I think I provide to my clients is a complete run down of all of their spending from the previous quarter, and the spending breakdown is grouped together in categories like groceries, auto, retail, etc. These spending categories help me pinpoint my client’s problem areas so that I can help them tackle the problem areas head on. This list also helps remove the clouds that prevent my clients from seeing exactly where their money is going.
When I first met with my clients they didn’t really know what their problem areas were. I think they had a suspicion because they knew they needed some extra help with their money, but the problem for them was that they were in the fog and they didn’t even realize it.
The Plan to Get Out of the Fog
During our meeting, I shared a number of their problem areas, and with each category, I saw the light start to shine through on them and I realized their clouds were lifting. Throughout the course of the meeting, I saw them gain awareness around their situation and with this awareness; we were able to build a plan to combat these problem areas.
I can see all obstacles in my way
With each problem area, we came up with a number of fixes that the couple plans to put into place, and I am honestly so excited to see what they are able to accomplish now that they can see their obstacles.
When you are in a financial fog, it’s impossible to get out of it because you can’t see your problems.
If you suspect you might be in a financial fog, I highly recommend that you employ an expense-tracking program like Mint.com or Personal Capital’s net worth tracker that not only aggregates all of your spending, but categorizes it for you. Since these programs aren’t perfect, you will have to spend time assigning categories to some expenses that fall into “Uncategorized,” but I guarantee you that it is time well spent.
After you have all of your expenses properly categorized, review 3-4 months of your expenses and look for patterns and problem areas. I do this analysis for all of my clients and this information helps us create a plan for success. Once you know your obstacles, you can devise plans for how you can best overcome them. For my clients, we created a number of challenges and set specific goals and targets that they need to accomplish, and I recommend you do the same thing.
We all end up in the financial fog for one reason or another, but there’s no reason why you need to stay there. If you have a tough time seeing it for yourself, ask for a good non-judgmental friend or family member to help you see what’s going on and hold you accountable for getting out of the fog; and remember when you do “it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day” in your bank account.