Feeling broke as a joke? Alrighty then, this one’s for you.
To most people, money is security and opportunity – for ourselves and our loved ones. There’s lots of advice out there to “just relax – things will get better” when it comes to money. Or go meditate or exercise or get a good night’s sleep. These are great suggestions that are sometimes are hard to follow because you’re busy bugging out.
If you’re freaked about money, there’s probably a good reason for concern – so I’m not going to tell you to just forget about it. But I do recommend you take action. Half the battle with money stress is paralysis, so get moving and it will start to melt.
Here are a few unconventional tips for getting out the money rut and into the money fast lane. And please note: I’m not a counselor, financial advisor or anything remotely close to being certified to talk about this…other than personal experience. We’ve all been there…
#1: Get neutral.
Your finances are not YOU. Whether you’re totally loaded or running on empty, your bank balance doesn’t define your existence. If you can let go of shame, you’ll get back on track quicker. Ever talk to a friend who is going through something hard, and you listen, full knowing what she needs to do to overcome the situation? That’s neutrality. It’s not your problem, so you have some distance to see the situation clearly. Try to attain that neutrality with your finances – even if you have to pretend you’re working on someone else’s finances! And if you can’t do it on your own, this is a time when hiring a financial advisor just to get you out of the muckity muck could be a smart thing to do.
#2: Get real.
Once you have some neutrality around the situation, you can start arming yourself with reality. If you’re gonna indulge in a fairly pointless activity like worrying, at least get clear on what’s so terrifying. Gonna lose your house? Can’t pay the water bill? For employers, not sure you’re gonna make payroll? All are stressful – but let’s get specific about the doom facing us before we sacrifice our health and sleep and all the other craptastic, unhelpful things we put ourselves through when feeling poor.
The best way to do this is by creating a simple spreadsheet. And God bless ye Internet, here are some free templates you can use for personal finances. And since entrepreneurs roll pretty differently on the income/expense front, here are some just for you too. Basically, you need to understand how much income you’re make, and compare that to how much life costs. Simple subtraction will show you if you’re getting ahead or fall behind. If the final number is a negative, you’ll have to make adjustments. You’ll need to generate more income, or eliminate costs.
#3: Money is energy.
Ever hear of the Law of Attraction? The crazy thing about feeling poor is you start to create a scarce forcefield around you, which attracts more lack. And once you realize this, it can make you even MORE anxious. “Shit, I’m feeling poor! So I’m sending out uber-broke-a-licious vibes to the Universe. Now I’m gonna get MORE poor! FML!”
Alright. Just stop. Like, now. Say and breathe this mantra: I. (inhale) Am. (exhale) Safe. (inhale) Repeat 10 times.
Then think about people like Kim Kardashian. OK, maybe not as a role model – but as person who knows how to let money into her life. It’s all energy, totally abundant – so what are you willing to let go of, or allow in? Do you feel you are WORTH money? Or do you deserve a life of poverty? (I think you deserve to be rich in every way – but that doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it.)
#4: Look good.
Feeling poor can make you want to skip the shower, hide under a hat and blend in your comfy clothes (read: FRUMPTASTIC). Part of knowing that money is energy, is knowing you can CHANGE that energy. Having a sad day? Wear bright yellow. Feeling down in the dumps? Wear those obnoxious Scooby Doo boxers under your monkey suit. Accessorize with something obnoxious, like neon nail polish or a dashing bow tie. I have some “power clothes” that I save for days when I need that little oomph – like my knee-high leather boots or motorcycle jacket. Accessorize your closet with a lil dose of bad-ass for days when you gotta push through, and fake it ’til you make it.
#5: Write a thank you note.
Part of scarcity energy is destructive becuase it’s so YOU-centric. Me, me, me, me. Sad. Unhappy. Scared. ME. Ugh, stop! Granted, this is your life and you are responsible for yourself (and your dependents), but turn it around. Have some gratitude for people who got you to this place. Even if it doesn’t feel awesome right now, there must be people in your past who gave you an opportunity. So pick up a pen (I know – totally retro – they sell them at Office Max – go buy one) and write a note. Then buy a stamp and mail it. When dropping it in the mailbox, imagine you are also sending your feelings of gratitude inside that envelope. You might still be broke, but you’ll feel better. And so will someone else. Now everyone’s rich! BOOM.
#6: You’re not alone.
I’m not going to recommend you volunteer at a soup kitchen to gawk at extreme poorness in an effort to feel better about yourself. But it is good to know financial strain is a common concern these days. Even rich people feel poor, just as some poor people feel rich. It’s all about perspective, which can be a positive thing or a detriment depending on your lens. But since most people feel shamed about finances and it’s so closely linked to failure (gasp!), folks don’t talk about it, struggle alone and have no idea how common it is. So get daring, and tell someone you trust about your struggle. Not to wallow or commiserate if he/she matches your pain, but maybe this could be an accountability partner or at least someone you can laugh and drink boxed wine with when it seems really impossible. (Note: I’ve read drinking alcohol won’t help with your depression around finances much. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t shared some woes with my homegirl Franzia from time to time.)
#7: Get organized.
Not just your finances – but your house. Your closet. Your car. Your sock drawer. There’s something about cleaning and purging your face off that releases the old, making room for the new. Donate stuff for karma points. Or sell it for cash in the bank. A lot of times, getting rid of sh*t you don’t need just helps you breathe easier.
#8: Journal daily.
Writing is therapeutic, even for non-writers. It accesses somewhere deep in your soul that is too difficult to consciously access. I use a daily journaling tool called 750words.com which keeps me accountable. And it has some pretty cool insights after you’re done writing. (Like, it guesses your mood – tells you what words you use most – and other things that might help you identify some bigger issues tied to money.) Even if you don’t have time, jotting down a few things you’re grateful for at the beginning and end of each day will start and finish things on a positive note.
#9: Recognize loops.
One of the reasons #8 is such a good idea is because your writings will help you notice trends. For women, you might even notice some mental attitudes about money are tied to your lady cycle – and having awareness around timing can help us deal. Same thing if you have some other kind of depression or anxiety – notice triggers and cycles, like if the sun hasn’t been out in awhile. With cycles, we know there is a beginning, a middle and an end. But an unidentified cycle becomes a loop that just never stops. And once you have awareness, you can consciously get off the roller coaster before it gets too dark or destructive.
#10: Be Amused
Being broke as a joke is not funny. I know this. But our financial situation – whatever it may be – is a great teacher. And with any life lesson, there is some amusement. This can be as simple as joking around (a little) with your banker or loan officer. Or writing silly notes and sticking them on your computer like “I’m Donald Motha-Effing Trump, yo!” Even having a sense of humor when calling to re-negotiate percentages on your credit card will be more enjoyable for you and the agent, plus the humor points might score you better results. Being good to people = WIN, 100% of the time.
The only thing that can make finances WORSE is ignorance. Too much spending, not addressing it when things start getting super serious, ignoring calls from collections agencies, refusing to accept reality – that’s all being ignorant. And it’s the devil. Do everything possible to shine a flashlight in the dark, creepy depths of your money cave. Chances are you’ll run into a few creatures in there, but they are scared of the light…so they’ll scurry once illuminated.
Best of luck. And remember, you got this.