Emotions and Financial Planning

I Knew They Played a Big Role; I Underestimated How Much

In the last couple of weeks, I have been fortunate enough to give a financial workshop at one of the many co-working spaces here in New York to some of their members.  The purpose of this talk was to get participants thinking about some financial concepts, help participants see how they stack up against the broad American landscape, and finally, get participants talking and thinking about how they view money so they can improve their own financial situations.  

It started with a quiz.  We discussed the answers as a group and had attendees write down their thoughts about the questions that were asked.  But then, in the second part, I wanted those in attendance to answer questions about their own relationship with money.

There were five free answer questions:

  • What is money and what does it mean to you?

  • How much money do you need to live the life you want?  How did you get that number? When and why do you need it?

  • Someone writes you a $100,000 check.  What do you do with it? What about the second check?  The third?

  • Who are the people that have most influenced how you view money?  What did you learn from them? Would you classify the influence as positive or negative?

  • How do you want to change your relationship with money?

The answers given went deeper than I would have expected to get.  As someone who sees how money and finances are highly affected by our own psyches, I was still shocked at how much people’s money concept and experiences can affect not only how they view money, but also their life success.

One participant said that she came from a background where a lot of money wasn’t required and wasn’t present. Her frame of reference was humble, she didn’t think about money not only because it wasn’t present in her experience, but because she didn’t think she wanted for anything in her youth.  As a result, she thinks about money as something she doesn’t want or need much of, but she recognizes that having moved to New York, she must now think of it differently.

Another participant shared his desire to not want money, but he does. He shared that his parents had once been multimillionaires but were now broke.  He is trying to achieve success in his own career so that he can support them more directly. He also wants to make sure that his child, due later this year, doesn’t have to support him the way he supports his parents.

Finally, another participant shared how she thought money was bad.  Her parents told her that money was evil. On top of that, the only person she knew that had money at that time was a criminal.  As a result, she admitted that she is very limited in her view of money and never allowed herself to be financially successful. Now, as she approaches retirement, she still feels lost and confused about how to set herself up!  While consciously, she knows she could and should have done more, her limiting beliefs have prevented her from achieving the financial success she’s always wanted. That’s unfortunate.

I left the participants with the following thoughts to keep in mind as they go forward in their financial journey:

  • Know and understand your financial situation.

  • Write down where you want to go in any aspect of your life, including financially.  Refer to it frequently.

  • Partner up! Find someone to help hold you accountable to what you wrote down and provide help in getting you there.

  • Ask questions! Money should not be a taboo subject.

  • Don’t get down on yourself.  We all make financial mistakes every day.  Spot them and try to avoid them next time.

These are easier said than done.  But take the steps together, you will likely improve your financial situation, whether you hire a professional or go it alone.

After this recent experience, I look forward to offering these workshops to more groups in the near future.  If you have a group or company and would like us to deliver this or one of our other workshops to your organization as part of your wellness initiatives, please contact us for details.