For a very long time, the only money issues we ever really acknowledged were those of overspending and not having ‘enough’ – but having a difficult relationship with money is a spectrum. There are those who struggle to keep hold of money, spending it too freely and accruing debt or struggling to save, and, at the opposite end, there are people who are terrified to spend anything, or to make any financial decisions. Some people even flit anxiously between the two, creating a sort of emotional and financial seesaw effect.
It’s understandable. After all, most of us learn to manage money by ourselves, without any formal financial education, and the inevitable early mistakes with money that we make in our teens and twenties can leave us scared and unwilling to trust our own judgement. This is particularly common for women, with many hesitating to take positive and decisive action about their financial future through a fear of ‘not knowing enough’.
Here are a few steps that you can take to improve your financial confidence and get money happy:
Educate yourself – but on your own terms
Financial education for adults has come a long way in the last decade, with the same stale, old advice being eclipsed by practical, judgement-free guidance. Start by sitting down with your finances and identifying any sticking points or ‘blocks’ in your relationship with money. There might be things that you wish you knew, regrets that you have or subjects that make you feel anxious – make a list, and then look for people talking about those things in a way that you understand and resonate with.
If your pension is making you panic, why not ask your employer to arrange a talk from your provider, or use a pension calculator tool to figure out how much you might need in retirement? There are dozens of practical articles out there explaining topics that might initially seem complex, in a simple and jargon-free way. Fill your bookshelves with the likes of ‘Go Fund Yourself’ by Alice Tapper, ‘Black Girl Finance’ by Selina Flavius and ‘You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich’ by Emilie Bellet, and feel that knowledge and confidence grow.
Something that really helps when you’re navigating a strained or turbulent relationship with money, is to find a community of people who will lift you up and keep you accountable – either on social media or in real life. Online communities of women have had a huge surge during the pandemic, with monthly memberships available for everything from career and confidence-building to investing and budgeting.
Check out Vestpod and Rainchq on Instagram for brilliant guidance in a digestible form – both platforms also run workshops and courses to enrich your financial life, teaching important concepts in a friendly and reassuring environment.
Forgive your financial mistakes and learn to trust yourself again
This is a big one. If you’re stuck in a place of guilt and shame about money mistakes that you’ve made in the past – whether they’re big or small – you’ll always struggle to feel confident that you’re making the right decision, and could end up second-guessing yourself even when you’re making a great move.
The key is to always view your past mistakes in context – don’t just your past behaviour by your current circumstances. When you made those mistakes, did you know what you know now? Did you have the same support network, the same responsibilities and priorities? Look to understand why you made the choices that you did, rather than blaming or shaming yourself. Learning to trust yourself again after financial errors isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative for a happy relationship with money.
Make a plan for the future – and just get started!
Often, we put a lot of emphasis on having the right plan and the right goals – and both are very important. But waiting until the plan is perfect and you’re 100% sure can cause unnecessary and counterproductive delays, so get started! You can always tweak and change things about your debt payoff, saving or investment plan later on, as you grow and learn on your financial journey.
Don’t let indecision keep you treading water, and remember that, as with every other aspect of our lives, some ebb and flow is inevitable in our finances, too.
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