Financial Philosophy Evolution.

BEFORE: My trusty no-drama-llamas and the credit card to be discussed
I heard a helpful list recently…that people generally fall into one of three categories while on the growth and development path.

1) Self-focus. These folks want to learn by doing. They’re not going to get true knowledge from a book or a lecture. It is “real” to them once they do it and find out for themselves from experience.

2) “God” focus. This group wants to hang out in Divine energy. I mean, who can blame them?! The source of love, patience, compassion, and the broadest perspective possible. Tell them what you want or not; they will find something “real” when they get to abide in spiritual connection.

3) Guidance/owner manual focus. People in the category want to study it in writing. They want the path sketched out, the specific steps, the formula, and that’s where they can rest into whatever practice they are seeking.

Before I tell you which category I identify with, take a moment to consider…what category lands for you the most? And remember, as always, there is no right or wrong, just different preferences and strengths.

(I am glad to tell you where I learned that group of categories if you email me and ask. Just want to keep it anonymous here since it’s a paraphrase and I don’t want to attribute it in case I misquoted the intent.)

OK, so I identify with the first category. Truly, so much falls on deaf ears with me until either pain, pleasure, or some internal flash of insight visit me.

With that in mind, I want to share my own evolution with finance and credit cards in particular. It helps me to realize I have just had to do some of these things and find out directly. So my story is not prescriptive. For people that identify with Category 3, they may cringe to read my swings and wobbles. For Category 2 folks, they likely need to just find for them what has the most experience of connection in it the whole way.

Phase 1
Way before I started this career as a financial wellness coach, and would have laughed my little buns off if someone told me I would be doing this for work in the future. I was scared to death of debt. I looked down on it as some kind of weakness, failing, or math disability. Can’t afford it? Well just don’t buy it, then! You don’t get something until you can pay cash, end of story! Looking back on this phase, it helped to keep that space around me contracted and tight. It helped life feel less overwhelming for me. Yet I didn’t have a financial plan other than, don’t debt. There was no positive motion to counter it. If someone would have asked what was I working for, I couldn’t have answered. I would have said, it’s just what you do, how it has to be.

Phase 2
Ooh chile, the sanctimony caught up with me. I was working like a machine, and then also got into therapy and recovery work on top of fulltime+ career work. I was doing something ALL.THE.TIME. Go go go go go go go go go. So I started to fray around the edges. The wheels weren’t fully off the bus, but things were creaking for sure, in body mind and spirit. I then felt more than entitled to not look at money or have a plan at all financially. If I was working that hard, I assumed the whole thing was just working itself out naturally. My job offered us the chance to meet with a benefits specialist, and I resented that I had to take some time away from work to do this for some unseen future. It felt pointless but the internal judge also pushed me there as the “right” thing to do. I didn’t even know what to ask at the benefits meeting, which was fine since I didn’t feel at all comfortable talking to this person. Turns out I signed up for Fidelity and had no idea the fees I was paying. My money was going into a black box and I didn’t want to make trouble for anyone by asking them to explain to me how it worked. Besides, I had too much to do and too many people to help to let that slow me down. I got a Discover card…I liked the cash back and felt like using that card was part of my job since I would get paid back. Credit cards were just part of life and I didn’t consider that I could be so busy and go without one.

Phase 3
Enough was enough. For a variety of reasons, I let go. I surrendered. Well, sometimes life surrendered me. And I am glad for it. And this phase was the opposite of financially wise on paper. Let’s call this the F*** It phase. I didn’t really make any money and I didn’t really spend much at all, either. I was still go go go go but with a whole lot more fun rolled in there. I went through nearly all of my savings and thought people were super square and “in the box” to worry about money, much less lose out on the chance to have lots of fun. Carpe diem. Don’t tell me I need to save for the future, eggheads!

Phase 4
Well, those were some tremendously beautiful flames of Hot Mess in Phase 3, and now the party is over. Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap I have NO money and few people understand that I just *had* to go through that. It was absolutely the right choice for me, and also there is no money to show for it whatsoever. I’m free in some ways now, which is priceless, but life itself is not without real financial costs. I hear about people living post-money but I don’t understand that because someone is still paying for stuff for them, in some way. Start working again, as much as possible, but going solo can take a long time to build up. More of a return to hardly making anything, hardly spending anything. Too scared to use a credit card with so little income. And deep down I felt so guilty and that I needed to be punished for deviating from the path of suffering on which so many live.

Phase 5
Major plot change when I connected with a financial counselor. I hadn’t even known such a thing existed. And I cried every single time we met for about 6 months. It just burned like fire to face my relationship with money. The school of thought where he was trained was very anti-credit-card so I went that way, too. I closed every account, credit score be damned. It was an amazing cleanse to get off the dependence. I watched every penny like a hawk.

Phase 6
Building a business is no joke. I see people around me who are less afraid of debt, growing and levelling up by investing in themselves. I have done a good bit of that. There have been some missteps, but going back to the original 3 categories here, I needed to learn by doing. I use credit cards again. I still like the cash back! And, September has been a bit of a butt-kicker. I worked too much, my family went through something very difficult and scary, and I’m in some very deep studies that are (thankfully yet painfully) eliminating some of my former blind spots and hiding places. Rawhide.

Today, I am gently putting the brakes on having overused the credit card to pay some of the recent challenges. Here she rests, stapled into a little credit card pillow sleeve…not with disdain, not with self-judgment, not with fear that I can’t handle it…but with love and appreciation. Like every tool that can be misused to harm, I am learning when and how to apply this one. I don’t have to know when or how she will come out of the sleeve, because I trust the internal guidance system that I have been working on hearing all along.

May each of us discover our empowered surrender.
May we help each other at sustainable and mutually beneficial levels.
May we find the space to ask questions, heal, and take excellent care of ourselves.

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Cool video on women’s’ financial anxieties at different salaries (Click)
Support article from YNAB on lifestyle creep (Click)

Thanks, Amy!

I thought this was a lovely response to the Freedom blog post:

“Thanks for another thought-provoking message! Freedom is indeed a big topic and means something different to everyone. I try to be grateful for the basic freedoms I enjoy every day: freedom/ability to get out of bed, dress myself and feed myself, freedom to leave my house whenever I want and go wherever I want wearing whatever I want, all without the fear of being physically harmed, and I even have the freedom to own a business and real estate, which isn’t available to women everywhere and wasn’t even available to women in this country not that long ago. We are very blessed!”

(Beth’s side note, when I was looking for a “we are blessed” picture my eyes read it, “We are obsessed.” That too sometimes!!

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