Well, Hurricane Dorian wasn’t a very nice guest, that’s for sure. He took down 80% of the power in Nova Scotia, ripped up trees, crumpled a crane and flung some pretty heavy stuff around. We knew he was coming and he wasn’t going to be pleasant – so we strapped everything down, charged our devices and cleared out the grocery stores of bread, propane and storm chips.
Many of us remember when Juan touched down over a decade ago. We remembered the days without power and the damage we faced the next morning – so we took Dorian seriously and prepared.
Now why don’t we prepare as well to face off against financial storms?
Sure, you can predict a hurricane… you can watch it building and approaching. With a hurricane we get multiple warnings, real-time updates, and visuals of wreckage along the storm’s path. You don’t get a forecast for accidents, illnesses or other personal catastrophes. You don’t get a warning. Financial storms just hit.
Last week I delivered a cheque to a very young, grieving widow whose husband died from cancer way too young. Because they had gone through the process and set up insurance coverage long ago, this young mom and her child will be okay from a money perspective. The financial buffer she has now allows her the space to grieve without worrying where the mortgage payment will come from. She won’t have to rush back to work because she needs to pay bills.
Actually, this was the second cheque I delivered to her. The previous critical illness claim had provided money to help with extra expenses like parking and eating out during treatments, extra childcare on tough days, making their home more comfortable for this awful reality, settling bills and debt that were adding stress they didn’t need, and taking more time off work when it counted.
The best time to batten down insurance is now. Review your policies, make sure you work through an honest and extensive gap analysis and get the right protections in place. The chance you’ll need to weather some kind of personal storm is almost inevitable.
Once you’ve cleaned up from Dorian and restocked your storm chips, please take the time to make sure you’re ready for any storms in your financial life.
That one in the corner, sitting silent for now, brooding… getting hungrier and hungrier, side-eyeing you. That elephant won’t take its eyes off you and the big bag of elephant food you’re sitting on.
That elephant is Money… and everything to do with it. Earning, spending, having, showing, dreaming about, wishing about, worrying about.
What I know for sure is that the elephant, if not acknowledged, fed, watered, and given love and respect, can cause a lot, and I mean A LOT, of damage.
It will trample your relationships, job productivity, mental health and financial future.
So, how do you tame a hungry-hangry money elephant?
First, you see it. And talk to other people willing to discuss the elephant in the room.
As long as you stay stuck in your corner, ALONE, looking into the eyes of a threatening, hungry elephant, you’re going to feel paralyzed, anxious, obsessed with spotting those first signs of trouble.
That’s what happens with money. We avoid it, ignore it, pretend we don’t care about it, worry we care about it too much, tell ourselves stories. And the whole time we feel a current of shame, embarrassment, stress and anxiety. The elephant grows bigger and bigger.
When you get comfortable talking about money, the elephant starts to shrink.
There’s a way to ease into these conversations and start dismantling the money myths. One way is to talk about your memories of money as a child. When did you realize what money was for? How did your parents talk about money? How did they treat money? And how is that affecting you today?
OF ALL THE D-WORDS… DOLLARS, DRIVER, DESSERT, DOG-WALKING, DICAPRIO… ‘DELEGATE’ JUST MIGHT BE MY FAVOURITE.
Because I whole-heartedly believe that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
And often you’ll find a much better-suited person to take over tasks that have to be done, but don’t have to be done BY YOU.
Here are some of the things I delegate:
Vacuuming and dusting
Managing my calendar
It’s not always that I don’t want to do these things; some are simply better done by others. (Believe me, all those things on my list are sooo much better done by others!!)
I see lots of women take on more than their fair share of a whole range of tasks. I know the whole division of domestic labour is a complicated debate. Personally, I simply do not suffer from the need to do everything myself, especially all things domestic as you can see.
HOWEVER, THERE IS ONE THING I DON’T WANT TO SEE WOMEN, OR MEN FOR THAT MATTER, DELEGATE EVER. AND THAT’S THEIR FINANCIAL FUTURE.
Strangely enough, household budgeting, spending, planning and saving is one domestic task I see women abdicate responsibility from all the time! And these are professional women who deal with money and finances daily in their career. They manage budgets in the millions yet they don’t weigh-in on the family finances.
It’s not because they don’t care, or prefer to live a life of blissful ignorance – no!
These smart, competent, ambitious women STILL carry the mental load of persistent worry, fear and not-knowing. They don’t have enough information about their own financial future to ease their fear of living on the street eating noodles in retirement.
It really doesn’t matter to me why this happens… whether it’s cultural, systemic, conscious, unconscious, whether we’re facing time constraints or career distractions…
I just want it to stop.
I want women, in particular, (because they’re the ones I see being left out of basic financial decisions at home) to pull up a chair, sit at the table and participate in the discussions about their own financial future, the way they participate in all the other discussions at home that affect the health, happiness and futures of their loved ones.
Even if right now ‘portfolio management’ seems like a task better left to someone else – it’s not laundry or dusting.
Mastery of your finances changes how you show up at the table, cements your confidence at a deep level, and gives you the security and certainty that your sound future is something you’ve had a hand in creating.
DISCOVER THE EASIEST WAY TO DISCUSS MONEY WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER, WITH OUR FREE DOWNLOAD:
Well, the Marie Kondo tidying craze has gone mainstream. There’s a new Netflix series, and a long line of products now available in retail stores.
Now, I haven’t transformed my entire closet yet, but I am folding things differently. I like to think that counts for something. My drawers of t-shirts and sweaters look amazing!
As I watch the miraculous transformations in spaces on her Netflix show, I’m struck by how the change always goes deeper than just the organized closets and junk drawers.
You can see the weights that have been lifted off the shoulders of the participants. They seem happier with less stuff. Less stuff makes their life better. They have more joy, know where everything is and find effective systems to keep things Kondo’ed.
Of course (as I do), I kept relating the process back to money.
Money and finance cause so many people so much stress. We worry when things are due. We’re cluttered in our minds, in our finances. We’re not really sure, when we open that money drawer, what we’ll find or what might fall out! We need to bring simplicity and joy to our money. We need to change our money story.
But how? Is it possible to Marie Kondo our finances?
I’ve gone through six steps of the KonMari Method to show you that tidying up your financial house is not that different from tackling your sweater drawer.
1. COMMIT YOURSELF TO TIDYING UP
With the pressures of career, family and life in general, it isn’t easy to start this process. I like to think of this step as crossing over the line from being interested to being committed. If I’m interested in dieting, I’ll have good intentions but still accept excuses for going offside. If I’m committed, I’ll stay on track and keep moving forward. Commit yourself to organizing your money. Schedule time in your calendar, even if it’s just an hour a week until you get it done.
2. IMAGINE YOUR IDEAL LIFESTYLE
No, it’s not easy to balance the competing demands of enjoying life today and saving for rewarding experiences down the road too. But one thing’s for sure: you can’t save for goals you don’t have.
Don’t squirrel money away because you think you ‘should’ — that’s not enough motivation to make tough choices.
Get yourself out of the shoulds and list some real short term and long term goals. When you know exactly what you’re giving up in the future because you think you want something today, you may find it easier to make a different choice.
3. START BY DISCARDING
I think of this as a mindset issue. Discard all the negative stories and mindset issues you have about money.
Don’t be scared of it.
Don’t resent it.
Don’t fear its lack or its abundance. Learn to love it. It’s incredibly important to recognize the issues that are keeping you from taking control of all aspects of your financial life. Nothing will change until your mind does.
4. TIDY BY CATEGORY
Let’s divide up your financial life into four categories: spending, debt repayment, investments and insurance. (…recognizing that these may not all apply to your financial life at all times.) The first two are where you’ll focus your KonMari energy — they are the foundation on which your financial health is built.
Spending: A great way to approach this is to evaluate your spending for the last three months. So haul or print out the statements for your chequing accounts, lines of credit and credit cards and look at how you’re spending your money. There’s no wrong or right here! This is just to make sure you bring any unconscious spending back into the conscious realm. With the ‘tap’ system and other quick & easy ways of paying, we can quickly lose track of how much things cost and how fast it adds up. Just getting some totals can be sobering. Now you can notice whether your spending aligns with your priorities (see step 2).
Debt: Totalling your debts, including your mortgage, is an important part of your complete financial picture. So make a list: credit card debt, lines of credit, student loans, car loans, outstanding CRA bills, mortgages. List the interest rates by each of them and then figure out how much carrying a balance is costing you in interest.
5. FOLLOW THE RIGHT ORDER
By this, I mean spend in the right order.
Step 2 made us evaluate what we wanted today to live our best life, and what we would decide to do without so we could enjoy an ideal future. We set our (reasonable and balanced) goals, and now it’s time to stick to the plan.
The best way to set yourself up to stay on track is to go back to cash. So, add up what you’d like to spend on lifestyle items – eating out, entertainment, convenience foods, gifts, clothing, small luxuries — then take out that amount of cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
6. ASK YOURSELF IF IT SPARKS JOY
We see so much unconscious spending in the world. And it’s getting worse as the way we pay for purchases becomes easier, faster and less intrusive. We tap and swipe our way into debt, into worry, into oblivion.
That’s why I like cash.
The cash system keeps us honest. It makes us conscious about everything we spend. Cash in our pockets is a tangible, physical, and limited resource. Which means every time you hand it over, it’s a choice. You have to ask yourself – does this purchase spark joy? Is it worth dwindling down my cash allotment to buy?
“In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.” – Marie Kondo
When you’ve discarded your old money hang-ups, you have a clear picture of where your money’s going, you’ve imagined a life you love now and later, and you’re spending consciously only on what you need and what sparks joy, I think you’ll find your finances start to feel refreshingly manageable and tidy!