A Formula for Financial Wellness

See live post here: http://eepurl.com/cABehD

 

It’s a little bit easier to explain the formula in the absence of any of the key components.

Formula Aspect 1) Without attention on your numbers, this never-ending stream of financial data is moving through the cloud with your name on it, and you don’t actually know the upshot of it. You can be very honest and connect with others, but without attending to your actual numbers, you’re taking best guesses and operating on a set of general hunches that everything is probably okay in your accounts.

So how does one pay attention to their numbers? Tracking regularly. Having a numeric plan (aka budget) and then matching your spending, saving and earning reality to it, in the numbers.

Formula Aspect 2) Without deep self-honesty, you can crunch the numbers all day long, and you can connect with others around it in various ways, but how do you know whether your numbers are matching up with living your best life? How do you know where you are on the spectrum of sucky life to best life, according to your own values?

You can be doing all the “right” things that Money magazine says to do, but if you’re not taking the time to dig in and find out what’s true for you TODAY, then in some ways this life opportunity is passing you by.

This is also true for updating my deep self-honesty. Part of the “deep” aspect is that the self-honesty be current. If you’ve been chasing something out of inertia, it can feel good to have a path or an outcome to head towards. But when did you last take stock to re-examine if it’s really the best fit for you, given what you know now?

I see this coming between couples all too often. They may have a sense of each others’ values, and then continue to act accordingly until more information arrives. If one or both people are not checking in with themselves regularly, all of a sudden it can seem like the other person is something to fight, out of alignment with what feels right to you today. (When in reality, they may just be acting from an outdated paradigm.)

OK, so how do you experience deep self-honesty? Some practices that help me:

-regular journaling

-connecting at least weekly with someone I trust, who is not personally affected by my financial choices

-if there is a lot of “arguing” in my mental chatter, it helps me to listen to what the different sides are saying before trying to ignore or change them

-not meeting my financial goals regularly is an excellent invitation to get real with myself about how much I really do want what I said I wanted when I set the goal

-when the urge to buy something pops up and my money is burning a hole in my pocket, being willing to be honest with myself and ask “Is buying this item *really* going to get me what I want?”. So often I want the purchase to change an internal feeling state. That experience is not available for purchase, alas.

Formula Aspect 3) Without connection, we tend to get too isolated and stuck in one or more of the difficult emotions (fear, anger, scarcity, low self-worth). Without connection, we can also be more susceptible to denial and rationalization. I’ve also noticed that sometimes, peoples’ expectations can be way high or way low compared to average realistic human behavior. Someone may beat themselves up for not saving “enough” money, and feel too ashamed to talk about it. It’s incredibly healing to have that conversation with a trusted person. Reality checks are priceless, whether I like them or not!

Those healing conversations are actually where the 3 elements of the formula can all get their beautiful airtime together. When I know my numbers, the conversation has the chance to become less vague and get more traction. When I’ve taken the time for deep self-honesty, I can ask relevant questions and have plenty to offer the conversation. I can even drive the conversation, if the other person wants to practice the formula but doesn’t have as much experience with it yet. Then the connection happens when I decide to be vulnerable enough to venture in to this territory with another human.

Question for you: what are your own best practices for each of the financial wellness formula aspects? I’d love to be your witness!

Email me at beth@financialwellness.coach if you’d like to share~

I LOVED this podcast about changes for consumers in the way banks work

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/10/509126878/what-is-driving-the-unbanking-of-america

Wow, I searched Google images for something relevant to replace the pine cones. Search term “healthy banks” returned some stressed-out old white guys, and very pretty pictures of Tyra Banks. Search term “happy banks” returned birthday cards to Elizabeth Banks.

So, the interviewee from the podcast Lisa Servon is awesome, in my happy money geek opinion. She’s a professor, and wanted to find out the truth about consumer behavior when they don’t use traditional banks. She went to work for a payday loan place, as well as a check cashing service. Very interesting insights.

So then I started researching her more, and it turns out she has an awesome web page for advice on if you want to leave your no-good, sneaky-fee-charging bank. Here you go: https://www.lisaservon.com/new-page-4

I’ve seen so many clients get dumb fees charged to their accounts from Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America. I actively experienced back before they were caught, how Wells was trying to sell me on opening a new account each time I interacted with a staff member of theirs. I also saw on some client accounts, new accounts pop up in their Wells profile, that they had not authorized.

To be clear, I’m not mad at people who work at places that get a little aggro. I do think it’s up to the consumer to pay attention and speak up when something seems amiss. It just erodes my willingness to blindly trust these banks, knowing what they’ve been willing to do in trying to become more profitable. I think my favorite part of the podcast is just getting more clear that while a bank used to be a friendly servant type of place, it’s now more likely to be on the hustle to profit however it can. Nothing wrong with profiting honorably. But skimming here and there and hoping the client won’t notice is no bueno.


(“Just replace “boy” with “bank” there) 

I personally use a variety of banks, myself, because I like to compare their websites and practices. OK, well maybe it’s a sign of commitment issues, but, hey….

Bank of Marin tried to sneak in a sneaky fee a few months after I established my account. I called them, said I signed up for a free account and where did this monthly charge come from, hmm? They removed it and nothing has snuck back since.

Simple Bank is the bee’s knees, but I know not everyone is comfortable going without an in-person place to do banking. It’s just so free in every way, and their customer service is gold-star. I give them 10 out of 10 for what I’ve needed them for, well done, Simple.

USAA is like my unavailable yet super attractive bank crush. If I could find my way in, I would. Except, their website leaves some to be desired in terms of playing well with finance tracker systems.

San Francisco Fire Credit Union has been a wise choice for me for many years. I keep my “offsite” savings there, so it takes some doing to touch it. I would not want to be able to access my emergency savings with just 1 click. Too many fun things seem like emergencies in the moment…I need a cooling-off period to get to that money!

I’m not saying any 1 bank is the most right for everybody…like all financial wellness decisions, it’s got to be what serves you the best.

I told you about Hoopla a few newsletters ago

It’s the app where you can check out things from the library, straight to your phone. You just need a library card number, depending on where you live.

I recently listened to Jon Stewart’s book Earth on Hoopla, and it actually has some good money wisdom in it, in addition to being of course hilarious. I like the perspective of explaining to aliens how human society works. It’s an oldie but a goodie~

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/jon-stewart/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-presents-earth-the-book/9780446199438/