Show Me the Money So I Can Ignore It

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Anything Is Possible

On Monday, I encouraged everyone to keep believing in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals, despite the challenges and obstacles you face along the way. I was inspired to share the song and the message based on one of my clients.

Out of everyone that I work with, I probably lost the most sleep over her finances. Every time I checked on her accounts I cringed because she spent most of January and February in a state of overdraft. Despite my texts, calls and emails, she could not seem to pull things together.

Never Give Up

She only paid me a one time fee to create her financial plan, and it would have been easy for me to sit back and let her figure it out alone; however, that is just not how I roll. I believed that we could figure out her money problems, we just had to work through them together. So I reached out to her for another meeting, which she scheduled and then cancelled, but I didn’t give up.

When we finally sat down together, I could tell she felt beat up and embarrassed by her money habits; however, I was so proud of her for facing them and owning them. I gave her a lot of tough love that day, but she took it in stride. I think she was really ready for a change. After a two-hour strategy session, I realized that she has a number of issues that many others have as well.

Money Problems and Money Solutions

Here are some of her problems, and our solutions to fix them.

Money Problem – False Sense of Money Reality

When we met the first time, and I asked this client about her spending, she gave me the numbers she believed were true and we based a plan around the numbers. In reality, her spending was much higher than she believed; however, she didn’t see it for herself.

I have clients who give me budget spreadsheets all the time and claim that is what they are spending; however, once I start tracking their numbers in my system, I realize they are way off. The spreadsheet is only as good as the numbers that are in it.

Money Solution – Track Your Spending

It is a great step to create a budget spreadsheet; however, if you are not going to check it and confirm your numbers, then it is worthless. You will never be able to achieve your financial goals if you don’t have a grasp of your financial realities. The first step in getting my client back on track was helping her realize just how much money she was spending and where she was spending it.

There are so many great and free tools for doing this like Mint.com or Track My Spending. With so many apps at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not getting a hold of your financial reality.

 

Money Problem – Money Mindlessness

This client, like many, had swipe issue. She mindlessly swiped her debit card whenever she was out and assumed as long as she could swipe the card, she was in the clear. However, she did not plan ahead and think about upcoming checks or auto debits that might throw her account out of whack.

This mindlessness not only led to overspending, but overdrafts in her bank account. We were able to get a number of them refunded; however, the bank will only forgive so many when they give you the tools and resources to protect against this.

Money Solution – Banking Tools and Cash Diet

She is now set up on account alert notifications and overdraft protection between her bank accounts. We set up a low balance alert for the largest check or auto draft she has each month. Every bank should provide you these resources for free, so it’s crazy to not have them in place as a safety precaution.

We also put her on a cash diet using the envelope system where she is only allowed to withdraw a certain amount of money for the week. This amount is the money she has available after her savings target and all bills are covered. Anything leftover at the end of the week is her “fun money.” She is free to spend this money however she chooses.

 

Money Problem – See Cash / Spend Cash

This client, like many others, sees money in her checking account and wants to spend it. If it is there, she feels comfortable making purchases and travel plans. She works hard to save her money; however, the second the accounts get to a good level, she is tempted to spend the money on something big like a trip abroad or new clothes. I have had other clients ask if there is a way to hide their accounts from them for similar issues.

Money Solution – Create Long Term Plan for Cash

It’s difficult to combat this mentality; however, the best way that you can do this is focusing your money on long term needs and wants versus impulse desires. She has a number of goals she wants to achieve in life, and she just has to remind herself that every dollar that comes out of her savings account takes her further away from achieving her goals.

If you don’t have a plan for your cash, it’s easy to get swayed into spending it. When you have bigger goals like travel or paying off loans, then it is easier to stop yourself from an impulse buy because you know your money has a purpose instead of just sitting in the bank account.

 

Money Problem – Money Enemies

One of the great things about programs like Mint.com or Track My Spending is that you can see exactly where your money is going every month. If you use a system like this, it’s important to update it regularly and review the results. When you pull reports, the system is telling you exactly who your money enemy is.

For my client, she had a number of enemies, but the biggest were Whole Foods and retail stores. When we reviewed all of the spending she made in those stores we were able to create a strategy for how to minimize them.

Money Solution – Create Substitutions

Once you know your money enemy, you have to create ways to replace this enemy or avoid it altogether. My client likes to entertain friends, which is why she had large Whole Foods bills; however, we realized she could entertain for much less by shopping at a different store and thinking about entertaining differently.

We also realized that the cash diet solution and envelopes would help curb her retail spending. Whatever money she has left at the end of the week is free for her to splurge at the retail stores, if she doesn’t have it, then she can’t spend it.

 

My Client’s Results

I recently checked in on this client two months after we put her plans in place, and I braced myself for the abysmal results I was used to seeing. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to see that she is not only making her financial goals, she is EXCEEDING them!!! I literally cried tears of joy for her that day.

I sent her a text of congratulations and she told me she was busy hustling and bringing in more cash (another tear of joy). I told her she was doing great, but to pretend like all of that cash is not in her bank account. She responded, “Show me the money (so I can ignore it)!” It’s not enough to just save your money, you have to keep growing it, and she is continuing to do this. She went from -$350 in her checking account in January to $4,700 as of yesterday.

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Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Gif Source: Giphy

Have you had any of these money problems? How did you fix them?

 

 

 

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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