In January I worked with Amanda Clayman, financial therapist, to figure out what the fuck is wrong with me. Here’s what she had me do, and what you can do:
Unearth Your Money Story.
I talked to my mom and aunts and uncles. I unearthed an old recording of my mom interviewing my grandpa about his life. I found out my great grandpa only saw the sun on – twist the knife – Sunday. He woke up before sunrise, walked four miles to the coal mines, worked until after sunset, then walked home. Somewhere in there, he did the farm work.
My great grandmother on my dad’s side left Russia for the United States at 16 with her sisters, and with her mom running after the train, which is the last time they ever saw each other.
The angle at which I saw my life shifted. Each generation worked their ass off in ways I will never even begin to comprehend to give the next generation a better life, and the next, and now here I am, a writer, with no need to ever feel desperation, given the gifts I’ve received from 100 years back. So why do I keep making myself feel desperate?
Examine Your Self-Talk
Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of yelling at myself when I fuck up. I’ve successfully added to this positive self-talk, more of a “Come on buddy, let’s just get to work, you’ll be fine.” But then I slip back into my other nickname for myself, bitch. “Bitch you knew you could not afford that lunch out with your friends, why did you go?”
Amanda told me to bring it in, to watch out for those times when you split into the “you,” as if you’re yelling at another person. She says that’s just another way to avoid solving the problem, to which I get a huge, mom-watching-Oprah style HMMMM.
She provided the following guidelines on identifying and managing your moods with money:
Identifying and Managing Moods:
- Describe the situation in detail.
- Specify emotion(s) in this situation, such as sad, angry, afraid, helpless, etc. Rate degree of emotion 1-10.
- Identify and describe relevant historical information pertaining to self-defeating thoughts.
- Record thought(s) that occurred prior, during, and after the situation. Rate belief in thought 1-10.
- Identify self-defeating underlying belief that generates self-defeating thought.
Styles of Thinking
- Analyze distortion present in self-defeating thought.
Balanced View / Constructive Action
- Write realistic, not ideal, response to self-defeating thought.
- Identify new constructive or realistic underlying belief that is an alternative to the self-defeating underlying belief.
- Choose appropriate action, such as calming counts, gathering more evidence, replace self-defeating thought with realistic thought, consider ways to handle or manage the situation differently, etc.
Quantify What You Want
I feel general panic about never being able to get a house, wanting to retire, this hole in the only pair of jeans that I can breathe in. So Amanda encouraged me to actually quantify how much I need to do what. I made a Pinterest board, and it was quite fun, actually, to look at it all. I made a list of what I want soon, within a few years, and someday. I also made a section of things I want and I already have.
Set up a Time to Review, Predict, and Plan
Set up a recurring, weekly time to sit down and look over the last week, predict how much you’ll need, and make a plan to get where you want to be. I started slacking on my monthly money check-ins, but I’m going to re-instate those.
Here’s my checklist, as a freelancer, but you can adjust it to your needs:
- Earned last week:
- Saved last week:
- Personal Checking Balance: $0
- Business Checking Balance: $3
- Fuck Off Fund Level:
- Weekly wins:
- Look at all bills due this week
- Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB)
- Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money.
- Transfer 10% of money received last week
- Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund
- Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account
The best part is, Amanda says I get to pair it with something fun. So maybe I get a Monday morning café hangout.
After talking about all this, Amanda asked me: You know what the fuck is wrong with you? Nothing.
We just have to keep moving forward.
So, to recap, first steps:
- Find out your family money story
- Examine Your Self Talk
- Quantify what you want
- Set up a weekly date to Review, Predict, Plan