This month in my coaching group we are working on clearing stress around money. In fact, this year, we will be focusing on clearing stress in various areas of our life (money, relationships, physical health and so on).
Stress can have an important impact on our wellbeing. The more stressed we are, the worst everything around us seem to be. The way we deal with stress can make the difference between us going back to our natural state of calm and happiness quickly or us going into anxiety for days or longer.
So let’s tackle a BIG one in January: money.
Most of our stress around money is simply made up in our minds.
We tend to either replay in our mind situations of the past or we are worrying about the future.
So the first thing we need to do is a little bit of mindset work to clear what is no longer relevant.
Limiting beliefs and positive affirmations
So how do we clear our minds and give ourselves a clean slate?
The first step is to look at the beliefs we have that are holding us back. Most of the time things we say to ourselves are not that helpful and are preventing us from achieving our goals. Statements like “I don’t understand money management” “Money slips through my fingers like water” “I don’t have enough” “I can’t make money” are just keeping us where we are.
The way to turn it around is to do an inventory of our limiting beliefs around money and take a good look at them. Then ask yourself: is this statement always true now? This statement may have been true in the past, but it is still true today? Really challenge yourself until you are able to amend the statement and turn into a positive statement (your positive affirmation).
For this to work you need to really resonate with it. If your belief is “I don’t understand money management”, don’t go writing: “I am ace at money management”. It simply won’t resonate. But what might work better is “I am learning how to manage money better” or “I am doing better than I used to”.
In any case you need to write down what is true for you and you then need to read it every day for 30 days. The repetition is key to changing your belief.
Identifying our limiting beliefs
I find the best way to do an exercise like that is to commit 100% to it and use meditation.
I would suggest following this process (but feel free to adapt as you see fit). Find a quiet space. Lit up a candle and put some calming music on. Take a seat and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself: what is my money story, what do I tell myself. Stay there until an answer become obvious and once you got it write it down. Don’t edit anything, let the pen flow for a good 10 minutes or as long as it takes for you to get it all out on paper.
Then read it again and highlight the limiting beliefs that have come up.
This is the exact process we used in my coaching group and it worked very well.
Using tapping to clear stress around money
Looking at your limiting beliefs around money can in itself create more stress around money! Now this is obviously not our goal.
So if you have a strong emotional reaction to this exercise I would recommend you try emotional freedom technique (EFT) also know as tapping. This is a technique that you can use anytime by following videos on YouTube.
Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. The practice consists of tapping with your fingertips on specific meridian points while talking through difficult memories and a wide range of emotions.
The best way to understand it is to see it so here are a couple of videos from Brad Yates who has a YouTube Channel dedicated to EFT.
Sometimes we are so focused on what we do not have that we forget to appreciate what we do have. And what we focus on tend to grow, so wouldn’t it be better if we grew our assets rather than our debts?
Feeling grateful for what we have helps us focus our attention on the bright side. And when we feel better we have a clear mind ready to seek ways to improve our financial situation.
In my coaching group, we spend some time doing a specific gratitude meditation and go through a number of exercises to raise our good vibes on the topic of money, but there are a number of things you can do on your own.
Kicking off a gratitude practice to clear stress around money
Make a list of everything you have. Go deep. Nothing is too big or too small.
Common examples would be: the roof above your head, a comfortable bed, food on the table, your job, any source of revenues, anything material that you own. When I did this the first time, I mentally went around my entire house and listed every single object.
Then think about what is going on around you. Are you currently working from home? You are saving on petrol and maybe on food if you are now eating in when you used to eat out. What cost has gone down for you recently?
If you have debts, think about what you spend that money on. Was it a trip or did you buy something special you wanted for ever? Appreciate the fact that you had the opportunity to borrow this money in order to buy this trip or item. I guarantee you it will shift the way you are feeling about your debt.
Once you have your list, spend some time looking at it and appreciating every single thing that you have listed, whether it is something you have, a saving or a debt.
Keep that list and read it every day and feel the feeling of gratitude towards every single item listed. You will find your stress around money should clear quickly.
Once you have cleared the stress around money it is time to become a grown-up and face the reality. It is probably not as bad as you have made it up in your mind.
Let start with the basics:
- Do you know what your net-worth is?
- How much do you earn and spend each month?
- How often are you looking at your finances?
- What action do you need to take to improve your financial situation?
Step 1: what is your net-worth?
Put simply your net-worth is what you have minus what you owe. Here is the table I use to keep track of mine.
|Credit Card 1: £
|Credit Card 2: £
Net-worth = Assets – Liabilities = £
Your table will most likely look differently but you get the idea. In the assets column you should add anything you own that is of value: musical instruments, jewellery, collectible items etc. In the liability you should have every single debt you owe, whether it is towards a bank or building society or towards a friend.
Step 2: Do you know how much you earn each month?
It may seem obvious to you but not everyone knows this on the top of their head.
Again make sure you include everything in your income: your main source of revenues and the little ones too, such as:
- Do you have investment revenues each month? Yes, revenues from your ISA account do count.
- Are you renting out your spare room to a lodger or on Air BnB?
- Do you get money back from your credit card?
Make sure you add it all up so you know exactly how much you earn each month. This will help you know how you can spend. The objective here is obviously that we are trying to spend less than what we earn.
Step 3: Do you know how much you spend each month?
Now this is an area where we can easily create stress for ourselves that we do not need to feel. So many people would rather not look at what they spend even though they worry about it all the time! This is insane!
The easier way to stay on top of what you spend is simply to record it.
If you are new to this, the easiest way to start is to get a small notebook and to write down everything you spend on a daily basis. Keep all receipts and write down every expense, no matter how small (yes that includes coffees and parking fees).
Personally, I created a spending tracker where I record exactly what comes in and what comes out so at anytime of the month I am able to see how much is left, or whether I have spent more than I have earned that month… oops!
Step 4: How often are you looking at your finances?
By looking at your finances regularly you are, over time, going to clear stress around money. If you know exactly where you are, you are demystifying the beast. But also, when you see how much you spend on certain things, it is going to become very obvious where and how you could save money.
For example, people who buy a take-away coffee every day could save a fortune by making their own at home and carrying it in a thermos.
I personally saved a lot when I stopped buying lunch at work everyday and brought my own into work instead. I am not saying I never eat out. Sometimes I do but it a conscious treat rather than a mindless expense.
When you see your expenses reduce and your account becoming healthier, you will start feeling better about your money management skills and stress around money will naturally clear.
I personally do a full review once a month to ensure I am on track, but I update the spending tracker every few days.
Step 5: What action do you need to take to improve your financial situation?
So now you know what your net-worth is, what you earn, and what you spend.
By that stage all stress around money might be gone. You might realise that actually you are not doing as bad as you thought, and you can just chill 😊
But you could be looking at this picture and think: I could improve this, I’d like to clear my debt, I’d like to beef-up my savings, or I could spend less.
How to save more by spending less
If this is you then the next step is to do a deeper review of your regular outgoings. There are so many areas where you could save by doing a little bit of research. For example, do you usually renew insurance/internet contract/mobile phone every year without looking around for better deals? Switching providers might be a little bit of work, but it is usually worth doing.
I have learned everything I know on this from Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert. There is plenty that I don’t know by the way! But I want to understand how to save money on car insurance for example this is where I go. This is a brilliant and trustworthy resource so if you are new to this, this is a good place to start.
The last step is of course that you might look at your income and just think you’d like it to grow. This is where a wider topic comes in. Is it time to change job or to do something new? Could you take on a second activity? Or maybe you could simply start by clearing the spare room and put it on Air BnB. What treasure do you have in the loft that you could sell on eBay?
Whatever you decide, remember one thing: follow joy. Don’t do it just for the money because if this is the case, you will never have enough. But if you are having fun, money or new sources of income will flow to you more easily.
And after all this work the last thing you want to do is create more stress by working 2 jobs!!
Get your house in order
The last area I’d like to discuss with you today, but just as important, is the way you are treating your physical money. Are you looking after the tangible aspects of your money with love? Don’t laugh, this is all about sending loving energy to your money to help it grow!
Sort out your wallet
What does your wallet look like? Is it tidy or messy?
If it not tidy, I would strongly encourage you to do a little tidy up. Get rid of the receipts, put them away where they belong.
I would even encourage you to treat yourself with a new wallet as a symbol of the fresh start you are giving to your relationship with money. And if you are going to go down that route, let’s go all the way and get yourself a new wallet that is either green, red or gold. These are the colours of abundance 😉
Sort our your paperwork to clear stress around money
Similarly, how are you treating your paperwork?
Not to brag (especially as there is a LOT of room for improvement in my filing system) but I have a paperwork cabinet. In the cabinet there are folders with stickers and names. There is a folder for pretty much everything: the bills, HMRC, my current employment, my previous employments, my degrees, my pension, each credit card, etc. You get the idea.
Every time I get a letter through the post, I open it on the same day, and I take in the information. If an action is required, I leave it out until the action has been taken and then file it. If this is simply for my information, I file it straightaway.
What do I not do is leave the mail to pile up unopened and worry about what’s inside. Not only this technique will not make any problem go away, but it could make a problem worse. Sometimes the letter is telling you an action is required of you within a certain period of time. So by ignoring your mail, you are financially self-sabotaging.
If this is you, I would strongly recommend that you go back up to the tapping video I shared with you earlier from Brad Yates to clear financial fear: Tapping with Brad Yates to clear financial fear (worry and stress about not having enough money). This should help you stop the unnecessary self-sabotaging.
I will leave you with a couple of book recommendation. These are my favourite books on money management:
If this is a topic of interest, make sure you register for my newsletter to get a notification of the upcoming interview with Ilana Jankowitz, a Certified Money Coach, later this month on the topic of clearing stress around money.
If you have enjoyed this article, you might want to check out the interview of Sue Lockwood to learn how Reiki can reduce stress.