My job and my research has given me the privilege to talk to so many people, of different economic backgrounds, about money. What has been surprising is that money issues keep a lot of people up at night- even people who earn very big paychecks. The good news is that with a little work you can make bedtime- a time of rest- not anxiety. Here are my top 5 moves to make when money keeps you up at night.
1) Diagnose the problem in daylight. Instead of trying to tackle your money woes in the middle of the night, promise yourself you will take on the problem solving by the light of day. Get up early or skip that lunch and put pen to paper to figure out what the problem really is. “Not having enough money” a common worry, is often not the real problem it is only a symptom. The real problem is often more about employment issues or how we handle the money we already have. Many parents have told me they worry about whether they will be able to support their children, be able to put them through college etc. When you get to the issue, dig deeper ask yourself why you are worried about it. Why am I under-employed? Is it me or is it the industry I am in? By digging deep objectively (no self pity or excessive blame here- be clinical) you can get to the heart of the problem and begin the treatment to better financial health and a better night’s sleep!
2) Create a goal. After you have diagnosed the problem, you know where you are now. Your goal now is answering the question, “where do you want to be?” Write it down. I am also a fan of posting it everywhere- bathroom mirror, fridge, front door, etc.
3) Take stock of your resources. What you do have already? Take stock of your skills, stuff, friends and your network. These are all resources you can leverage for help. So often we dwell on what we don’t have, this list will remind you of all you do have.
4) Make a realistic plan to change your situation. You’ve set the goal, know what tools you have in your arsenal, now it is time for you to create the roadmap for change. As you work on the plan you think about the different ways you can achieve your goal by using your resources or perhaps acquiring some new ones. Weigh the pros and cons of each step, does it make sense to downsize, can you partner with someone, etc. I like to put everything on the table for discussion. Once you set your goal and you know what truly matters to you, old sacred cows are often easily sacrificed to make way for our new goals. Keeping your goal in mind makes prioritizing easier.
(Hint- don’t allow for too many non-negotiables here- the more ideas you allow for discussion the better).
5) Create buy-in. Ideally this whole process involves you and other financial decisions makers in your household. I also believe in bringing in the kids into the discussion at appropriate times- after all they will be affected by your decisions. Involving everyone in the discussion will allow for easier buy in for the plan and allow all of you to be on the same page when it comes time to execute the plan.
Remember friends and others are usually willing to help our cause when they see we are committed to a plan wholeheartedly.
Good luck! -Mary Caraccioli
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