How do you look at your money? Let’s untangle how to actually see what money is trying to tell us.
There are many ways to do it. Some of them are number intense. Some focus on budgets and spreadsheets. Some get you tied up in thinking about investments and stocks. Some use online resources like Mint, while others call for using programs like Quicken. Some folks even use my GOSH model with their money. (GOSH is a no number-crunching, in the moment, budget substitute…more about it in another blog, soon…I promise!) Whatever method you use or don’t use there is something more fundamental than the methodology to consider when you look at your money. It’s your attitude about it.
Your money, how you earn it, what you choose to do with it, all of that, is really a wealth of information about how you are living your life. We’ve all seen the “Who done it” where the forensic accountant finds amazing clues on the suspect’s credit card statement. That information is there, all the time, just waiting for you. Money reflects your choices.
There are two basic things to consider as you begin the exploration of decoding what money is trying to tell you. One is how you want to look at it. I’ve listed a bunch of ways above. They fall into the categories of “historical” and “in the moment”. All the “crunchy” ones (requiring 10 key, columns or computers) are “historical”. They show you what you have done. They are fascinating in many ways, but frequently cause analytical overload. The “in the moment” ones are generally more philosophical. They are based on actively noticing what you are doing with your money in the moment. What is that expense really about? Does it have some underlying meaning?
Now hold on, I know it may seem that I’ve gone over an edge here. AND we often have sly meanings behind how we use money. I say “sly” because we aren’t likely to be conscious of them ourselves. Money and how we use it can mean love, it can mean revenge, it can have fear behind it, or even hope. Money can represent all sorts of things. Your money and your life can be very different if you just get clear about what you are doing with money. As you get clear about those hidden meanings behind the purchases, you can find other more effective ways to fulfill those desires.
We each have values that we care deeply about: fundamental tenets. We seek a life that honors those values and yet often spend time and money doing things that are in opposition to our values. It’s part of what’s going on when you spend a bunch of money on something and then later just feel hollow around it. You weren’t really honoring what was important to you. The solution is to get clear on what you are doing with your money and then change those actions and choices to ones that actually foster and support your values.
And there is an additional second crucial thing to consider as you look at your money. It’s your “come from” or attitude. For a variety of reasons (which are another blog) we mostly approach analyzing or exploring our choices from the perspective of Judgement. There are those mental wagging fingers and critical comments. The “should’s”, “ought to’s”, and “got to’s”. NONE, not a one, of those are helpful. They simply distract you from getting clarity with a cloud of emotion.
The most important thing to practice as you try to learn what your money has to teach you is to look at it from a neutral, non-judgmental sense of curiosity. It’s simple. Just notice what you are doing. Imagine yourself saying “Hmm, isn’t that interesting. I somehow make up that having more shoes (or purses, or cars, etc.) means I’m a more successful person. Hmmm”. Imagine discovering the meanings hidden in plain sight in your spending.
Noticing is the first step. Do it with numbers or not. Just do it. As you get clear, you get out of auto-pilot and have a choice. A different choice is really all that is needed to get different results.
I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Shell Tain, The Untangler