The most difficult, heartbreaking part of my job is seeing people who need help (desperately, in some cases) who either don’t recognize it, who are in denial about it or avoiding it, or just aren’t yet willing to work at changing things. It’s tough. I think I’m a compassionate person; but I’m also a realist. I feel for your financial problems; but they will not go away on their own. They just won’t, which means that you cannot run from them. Your financial problems will chase you– and they have an endless gas tank. Your financial problems are the T-800.
This all comes to mind because I saw someone today at the credit union that I have counseled in the past. This day, he was in the process of ultimately being denied for a loan by one of our loan officers. I’d met with him only once before. At the time that we met, he shared with me plenty of reasons to make changes. He felt like he was constantly behind. He felt like he didn’t know where his money was going. We sat down and built a budget together and the numbers actually looked really good. That usually indicates a spending and/or discipline issue. We chatted about how to move forward and break the cycle. I’d like to think I gave him good information and good tools to turn things around and we talked about meeting again a month or two down the road. I never heard from him again. Instead of making another appointment, here we are, instead. He’s still in trouble, wanting to take on even more debt to try and “fix” his current problem, despite all we talked about. He already can’t seem to keep up with the monthly expenses but he now wants another monthly payment for a loan in the mix.
Honestly, I think it’s very sad. It’s the great mystery of the human race, to me: Why don’t we do right by and for ourselves like we should?
Discipline often sounds like an ugly word. According to dictionary.com, there are a few different definitions for discipline. I think most people think of it as “punishment inflicted by way of correction and training,” but in this context, it’s definitely more appropriately either “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill,” or “behavior and order maintained by training and control.” Whichever definition you think fits best, Discipline and making choices to help you stick to your budget is critical to your financial health.
A budget as a plan is meaningless without action. Really, it’s just a list of numbers on a page. What makes a budget come alive and work for us is the choices that we make to adhere to those numbers.
I love my job. I really do. After having been through serious financial issues, myself, I know how life-changing it can be to make it through to the other side with a skill-set (and attitude) in place capable of creating a better financial life. I got serious help from someone when fixing my issues and I will forever be grateful for it. So, I love having the opportunity now to try and help others.
But working as a Financial Wellness Advocate has been an eye-opening experience for me over the past couple of years. It’s interesting to be on this side of things. I know what it was like for me when I was making changes. I was highly motivated. I had goals I wanted to meet. I had debt I wanted to be rid of as fast as I could muster. Working in another industry as an independent sub-contractor in those days, I had taxes I needed to get under control for the coming year. Because those things were meaningful to me, it was easy for me to get on board with doing what needed to be done to fix my financial life. I embraced doing things a better way, knowing that it would lead me directly to my desired outcomes. If only it were that simple for all of us all of the time…
Have you ever thought about where your financial personality comes from? How it developed? I had never thought about my own until I was getting seriously involved and interested in (repairing) my financial life.
Once I started thinking about it, my own financial personality started to make a lot of sense to me. And, in fact, I think I have the exact, same personality today that I had when my finances were completely out of control. What has changed, however, is my understanding of my financial personality and my ability to work with it.