Financial Peace of Mind: Forgiving Yourself for Acting Up

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Financial Peace of Mind Forgiving

Reaching financial peace of mind is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.

In fact, this is one of the few places in life where time actually works to our benefit (something we can’t say about a whole lot of things). This is particularly true if we find somewhere to park our money where interest rates are appealing; here the passage of time plays into our plans.

But because of the seriousness of the effort … after all, we’re talking about our long-term financial security … once engaged, we tend to put our noses to the grindstone and push, push, push.

Like a recent commercial on television, the answer to almost every question asked when we’re in that mode is “no!” No, you can’t have those pumps that Oprah wears. No, we can’t afford to go to the islands this year. No, we don’t have room in our budget to buy the new iPhone that’s coming out, even if the one you have is already two versions old.

No, no, no.

Yet, ask any kid how he or she feels about hearing “no” all the time. How long before the kid in you rebels … and does some real financial damage? Now it may not be just a minor setback to your planning; it could be a disaster of untold proportions that will take months or more to recuperate from.

Acting Up

So what are the signs that you’re about to act up?

1. Start listening to the expressions you use around anything that requires discipline. (“I’m getting tired of all this. I deserve to be able to do what I want …”)

2. Look at how you’re reacting to someone else buying or doing something that seems extravagant. (“How come they can do it and I can’t? They don’t deserve it any more than I do …”)

3. See if any of your normal good habits—things you’ve integrated into your everyday life—are breaking down, even slightly. (“I’ve done this for so long, so well. Don’t I deserve a little break from the routine?”)

What do these reactions have in common? They all center on “deserving.”

So deserving merits a closer look.

To Understand Deserving

To understand the concept of deserving, let’s look at another area entirely: dieting. You know what you are supposed to eat, and you’ve been good all day. In fact, you’ve barely been off the list of approved foods all week and the pounds are finally coming off.

Then you go to the supermarket to pick up a few things and you see that the Cheez-Its are on sale, two-for-one. That’s a $4.39 saving! Suddenly there are two boxes of White Cheddar and PepperJack Cheez-Its in the shopping cart.

Once home, you figure you’ll just have a few handfuls, and hide the second box for another time. How long before both boxes are empty?

And if for you it’s not Cheez-Its, it’s something else that tempts you when your “deserve” bell is ringing. At that point, anything will be the trigger, or excuse, for falling off the wagon … even something as insignificant as a $4.39 saving!

So now you’re stuffed, feeling a little ill from all the flour you don’t normally eat. Your body is screaming, your face feels flushed and your stomach’s upset. Resentment over feeling deprived has turned into regret.

You realize that you allowed your signals to get crossed. It’s not that you “deserved” the Cheez-Its. It’s that you were bored with what you had been eating and missed the flavors of forbidden foods.

Besides, what you truly “deserve” is to ultimately reach your desired weight, where you can enjoy your life more fully and healthily.

See how the signals get crossed?

Then, With Money

The “deserving” bell rings for all sorts of things, money included. It can ring if you’re saving diligently … or if you’re super focused on paying down debt. You’ll hear it if you stopped buying yourself pretty things … or cut out social activities completely that took too great a bite out of your budget. In short, you gave up what you considered the good life.

The key is to be aware of how strict you’re being with yourself and to be very sensitive to the signs of potential “act ups” that were mentioned above. The answer is to be prepared to give in when the bells start ringing … by making an exception that fills that need for diversity or pleasure or joy.

The sooner you quell that need, the smaller the damage will be.

Remember, for most of us getting to financial peace of mind is a long process. Many of us have years of unfocused money behaviors to make up for.

As for the real “deserving” element, what we do truly deserve is to have financial peace of mind, and the knowledge that we’ll be okay financially for the rest of our lives.

Yet, disciplined as we may be, occasionally we’ll fall off plan. But nothing’s fatal. Just stop as soon as you’re aware of what you’re doing, repair the damage the best you can without causing any additional feeling of deprivation … forgive yourself! … and put your marathon shoes back on.

You’ll be glad you did!

Let us know in the Comments section below what things tend to throw off your best laid plans!

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Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers are shared in her posts, articles and an upcoming book. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • I too fell off plan! With a week full of travel, plus a major upgrade of my site’s theme (still tweaking!), I missed my Sunday article deadline. So I took my own advice: I forgave myself, put my running shoes back on and wrote this for you … 😉

  • myspalmer

    Great points Sharon. We all act up especially when life happens unexpectedly in a major way. For me though, I feel guilty, not necessarily “deserving” when I’m so strict on myself that I refuse to spend on things outside the budget. Things I really want and sometimes need to relax the craziness.

    • A little kindness is a good thing too! Anything we do without a little latitude and joy starts getting heavy … and that’s where we tend to “act up.” We just have to carefully define what latitude we can give ourselves … without disrupting our original program, whatever it is …

  • I love what you teach Sharon it is very practical and useful! I think it is important to investigate why we are “acting up” and then work to change those feelings. Feeling good about finances is a marathon and growing a healthy relationship with money is something so many people struggle with, including me.

    • Keep reading, Angie! I’ll get you to where you can take back your power over money. (Truth is, YOU gave that power away, so you can take it back.) There’s no great mystery involved, just simple concepts, but we spread this layer of emotion over everything … and it looks real messy! 😉

  • Girl, I was taking that trip with the Cheez-it’s right along with you!! What a great way to understand how the same applies to our feelings and actions around money. Your blog is one of my favorites. Thanks for all the great advice you give!

    • Was that YOU I saw in the cracker aisle of the supermarket, Martha? 😉 Thanks for being one of my regular readers; it makes writing so much more joyous!

  • What a great article! I love the recognize the issue, and quell before you lose control advice. Thanks. Xx

    • Sort of “nip it in the bud,” right Carmen? Like anything else, the longer you put off taking care of something, the more effort you’ll need to turn it around … whatever it is!

  • Sharon you always share such good stuff here. Love your tips on our relationship with $$. Great article!

    • Thanks, Norma, for your kind words! Most people don’t realize they even HAVE a relationship with money … which is why it becomes such an unnecessarily complicating part of our lives.

  • terressa

    Thank you for sharing your tips and advice on money . I am learning a whole new perspective on finances.

    • I’m glad this is useful for you, Terressa. Having a solid perspective on finances will make the road ahead so much easier, especially if you can remove the “false power” so many give to money. Once you can do that, you’re so much more in control!

  • It all BEGINS with Believing in YOURSELF that You are WORTHY… Great wisdom

    • Thanks, Carly. Without the deserving component, all efforts seem to get distorted …

  • “The deserving bell”…love the way you put that! Your advice to think differently about what we really deserve is right on…so if we change it to thinking that we deserve financial peace, that is a powerful change…

    • It’s one of those little mind shifts that has the ability to change everything, as you say, Sherie …

  • I had to laugh out loud, I was along on the trip to the supermarket and was buying Cheez-Its AND chocolate, too! I so recognize the feelings but never put them next to they way I feel about money. Great blog, wonderful read. Thank oyu for opening my eyes…

    • Needless to say, Dorien, my Cheez-Its story has more than a kernel of truth to it! Chocolate too, huh? 😉

  • Love coming here and reading, Sharon. I would love to get here.. I think i’ll be working on it the entire time my daughter is in college though..;)

    • Ah, I feel like the friendly Barnes & Noble, with comfy chairs … ;-). Truth is, by making well thought out choices around your daughter’s college, those costs will simply become a “part” of the journey. But just knowing you’re on the right path is the start of that feeling of peace of mind: you’re taking responsibility for you and your loved ones in the short term and in the long term …

  • Lisa Frederiksen

    Great post, Sharon – loved your opening line, “Reaching financial peace of mind is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.” So true! I liked your emphasis on the “deserving” element of all this, as well as the signs of “act ups” that confound us. And as with your example of Cheez-it’s (a fav of mine!) and dieting, they can be used in so many other areas of life, as well!

    • It takes us decades to get into the financial messes we do, and then we think there is a magic button that will get us out of them. Doesn’t work quite that way. But there’s every incentive to start immediately–whenever immediately is–so we catch back up as fast as we can …

  • Love visiting here Sharon and what an analogy. I fall off my plans too, so this is such a gentle reminder for me 🙂

    • Anita, we all fall off … and all need gentle reminders. I’m glad this served as that for you!

  • Olgahermans

    You are so right that it is a journey! We cannot ignore the way we got to the place where we are for us to get out of it!

    • As always, your assessment is right on the money, Olga!

  • Tereza

    “Besides, what you truly “deserve” is to ultimately reach your desired weight, where you can enjoy your life more fully and healthily.” I’ll definitely keep that in mind every time I am about to act up. Great article!

    • We need those bigger desires sometimes to get us past the desire to blow it on something smaller, “acting up,” if you will. Hope it helps!

  • Estelle

    Love it! I like the recording too, great idea.

    • Glad you liked it, Estelle. I find the recording to be really convenient for some people … who we know are going to multitask anyway! May as well make it easy … 😉

  • Nisha Naik

    I like how you differentiate “deserving” from what you REALLY deserve – which is to reach your ultimate goal! It’s too easy to lose sight of the big picture and justify that by saying you deserve to treat yourself. But really, you have to take care of the most important goal – the big one! 🙂

    • Nisha, it’s just a matter of taking it up a notch, to what we want in the bigger scheme of things. It’s so easy to get hung up on the small stuff … 😉

  • Great article Sharon! One of the reasons I switched to having my weekly shop home delivered (apart from the fact it is cheaper than driving to the supermarket) is that I only buy what I need. No matter how hard I try I know that if I go and shop myself I will add all sorts of things that look like a bargain but I could do without them!

    • Carolyn, the people who stage supermarkets are masters at triggering our “wants” (versus our “needs”), which is why if we do have to go in, we should only do so with a list. But even that’s no guarantee at times. The food example was just to put our financial efforts into a more familiar framework. From the response, it sure seems to have worked!

  • Oh, how I love that Cheez-Its story. How did you guess my greatest weakness? I heard Louise Hay this week-end and she reinforced your message. You have to forgive yourself and stop criticizing yourself. Replace the negatives with positive affirmations and you will change your habit without all of the angst we usually put ourselves through.

    • It’s a careful balance, Laurie, between not creating angst and holding ourselves accountable in the long run. But the exceptions really do have to be that … exceptions … and not the norm. 😉

  • Cathy Taughinbaugh

    Hi Sharon,

    I love this line – what we do truly deserve is to have financial peace of mind. We can all get tempted to buy things that we don’t necessarily need. From the catalogs that are sent to the house, online stores and the many available walk in stores, the possibilities are endless. I do best when I just stay away from the clothing stories, otherwise there is always something I end up buying. Thanks for sharing your financial wisdom!

    • It really does come down to a choice in many cases, Cathy: gratification now or gratification later! 😉 And you’re right. Where all the marketing trips us up is in blurring the line between needs and wants … to the point where we’re not so sure any longer …

  • Great advice Sharon! I swear there are days when I read your posts and it feels like you’ve been crawling around in my head. We’ve been having this very discussion in our house over the past few days. I’m going to use your examples to get my point across the next time the subject comes up.

    • So glad it can be useful to you! Things do tend to show up when they’re needed, even things as modest as articles that provide good arguments … 😉

      • I agree! It’s happened to me too many times to not pay attention when things show up. 🙂

  • Pat Moon

    Sharon, your point is well taken. Yes, we did deserve last Sat. afternoon & evening at the Solanofest Chuckwagon Dinner and Starlight Ballroom. We had a great time visiting with friends, eating a great chuckwagon dinner, and dancing as the sun went down. We deserved it and forgive ourselves for spending the extra money on the gas (about 180 miles round trip) and the $5 each for the dinner.. really a pretty inexpensive night out. Thanks for another great article.