Financial Peace of Mind: A Shortcut

Financial Peace of Mind: A Shortcut

Here’s another shortcut: listen instead of reading …

Financial Peace of Mind: A Shortcut

My journey started in a dark place.  Mostly because of all the sleepless nights, pacing the house at 3 a.m., wondering how I’d ever get out from under the weight of the debt and demands.  I felt just one or two clicks above helpless.

Step by step, following lots of bunny trails and rabbit holes, I reached total financial peace of mind.

I can still go to a place in my head and relive each step I took, as if it were yesterday.  Trust me, it’s far better to be living in my today.  Especially because I’ve figured out a system that shortcuts the journey for others.

Now, traveling the country, the moment I tell anyone what I do (“I work with women who can’t get their finances in order and don’t know why…”), so often I see a look that says, “That’s me.”  And a frustrated, sometimes painful story follows.

Late last night I drove home from a conference where I saw “the look” again.  And again and again.  I decided I had to share three little … and very do-able … steps that can be your first steps (if that’s you too) on that journey towards financial peace of mind.

It’s what I wish for you.  And what you so dearly deserve.

Step One:  Kill One Gremlin

We all have memories embedded in our subconscious from childhood that mess with our behaviors.  Maybe it’s our weight.  Maybe it’s our money.  Or maybe it’s our relationships.   We know exactly what we have to do to take off a few pounds, for example, yet we just don’t do it.  Why, you ask?  Because of the same “gremlins” (as I call them) that keep us from different behaviors, including healthy money behaviors.

So, let’s find one and snuff it out.

Look honestly at any one thing you know you do with your money that is not helping you have a balanced financial life.

Maybe you don’t ask for more money from your clients, although you know everyone else charges more.   Which parent insinuated that you didn’t deserve to make more than he or she did?

Maybe you give in to your teenager’s every whim although it means you’ll go without something you actually need.  Whose actions led you to believe your tight finances today are your fault?  Maybe you learned (through your mother or grandmother) that women are expected to just grin and bear it, even if in a destructive marriage to a supposed “good man” that means no safety or healthy boundaries?

Maybe the brand names hanging in your closet outpace your income.  Who told you as a kid on the playground that you weren’t part of the popular group because you wore hand-me-downs?

In short:  who are you mad at?  Who do you resent?  Who diminished or disempowered you?  Figure that out related to a destructive money behavior, release the anger and let it go.  (And watch that behavior change.)

Step Two: Know Your Gap

Someday you’ll have to put together a careful spending plan if you want to really get your finances in order.

But for today, here’s a shortcut.  Add up your monthly income.  Add up your all your monthly expenses.  Look at the difference between the two.  That’s your gap.  And it may be negative.  If it is, it’s hard to embrace the total debt you’re under; it’s usually a really big number.  But look at the gap.  Is it $500?  Is it $300?  Is it $1,000?  What can you do to close that gap, either by cutting expenses back by that much, or by finding a way to earn that much more.  Or a combination of the two.

Knowing your gap and closing it will lower your financial stress markedly.   And that success will empower you to start digging further and further until you’re willing to really turn all your finances around.

Step Three:  “I Want That”

Usually that phrase would be another pitfall, another line item on your credit card statement.

But here we mean something different.  What is important enough to you to give you the incentive to change how you deal with your money?

Take a few minutes in a peaceful place, far from the television and from your home office.  Visualize something that you want to do or be, a lifestyle or activity that makes you feel fulfilled.  Go into great detail about what that looks like, almost in 3-D.  Then write it down.  Whenever you have a question about an expenditure or any other money-related decision, ask yourself if it will bring you closer to … or further away from … reaching that vision.

The Full Journey

The entire journey from wherever you are today to wherever you want to be financially is not a difficult one.  It’s a series of steps.  These are just three.  But they represent the three areas you’ll eventually need to address on that journey:  your emotional triggers, the actual numbers in your life and what motivates you.

Drop me a line in the comment section below and let me know if this helped you see how to start your journey towards that magical place:  financial peace of mind.

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About the Author: Sharon O’Day is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance and marketing, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can be financially free. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategic plan, they take actions that bring them more money and less stress … which means happier, fuller lives. More About Sharon

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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!

  • Ah…. the peace I feel when a new article arrives from my friend Sharon! You break it down into such bite-size steps! I can feel your heart of compassion, Sharon… thanks for caring about all of us so much that you share your journey to financial independence with us! I’m so deeply grateful for you 🙂

    • SharonODay

      I know how many steps you’ve already taken, Susan.  There’s just a little piece you need to figure out yet … and I think you feel that, no? 😉

  • Hi Sharon…Excellent article on ‘Financial Peace of Mind” and the three steps that you have identified are crucial! Thank you for sharing…Hughie 🙂

    • SharonODay

      Every journey has to start somewhere, Hughie, and those three steps are meaningful ones …

  • What a powerful post!  I’m all about finding out “why” we do the things we do and with money?  People get c.r.a.z.y.  Helping women look inside to find the answers to what’s happening on the outside is such a beautiful calling.  Best of wishes to you in your work!

    • SharonODay

      Thanks, Martha, there’s nothing more gratifying that seeing the light go on when a woman “gets it” and starts truly taking care of herself.  Even just from my weekly articles, I get amazing letters from those who have finally latched on to personal responsibility and pointed themselves in the right direction!  Really good stuff …

  • I love the idea of killing one “gremlin” first.  That is so powerful.  The whole post was powerful.  Definitely need to bookmark this and refer back! Thank you for sharing your wisdom! 

    • SharonODay

      Glad it was helpful, Angela.  I figured the way to avoid getting overwhelmed is to get someone to take one step first … especially a simple one that will bring marked results!  That makes the rest of the journey so much more appealing!

  • Excellent ideas and advice! Thanks for sharing and breaking down the steps!

    • SharonODay

      Thanks, MarVeena, for the ongoing support!  As you know from your work as well, we don’t even necessarily need to know exactly where we’re headed, as long as we have trust and are willing to take some simple steps.  Besides, there will probably be course-correction along the way anyway … 😉

  • Wonderful Post! I’m certain that there are a lot of women in that same dark place feeling the same way. Thank you for sharing.

    • SharonODay

      The best part, Genevieve, is when the “dark place” is behind you.  And, for me, the joy that comes from showing others how to do the same!  😉

  • The way you present things makes them so less daunting! Love the breakdown! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • SharonODay

      Ms. Denny!  So good to see you!  As for chunking things down, you do the same with the help you bring to parents.  I guess wisdom is best digested one chunk at a time?  😉  

  • Thank you for that breakdown.  Most women leave finances up to their partners or spouses, but each and every one of them needs to know how to handle theirs and plan.

    • SharonODay

      Whatever a couple’s relationship might be, Mandy, we’re ultimately each responsible for ourselves.  And that personal responsibility starts with our finances.  Knowing where they stand financially and being able to take the financial reins if need be … that’s the empowerment I want to be sure all women enjoy if, for some reason, they don’t have it today …

  • I really do love the way you simplify everything.  It is good to be reminded that it really is that simple.

    • SharonODay

      Marie Leslie, first we complicate things.  And then we say we can’t do them because they’re complicated.  So I’ve taken on the important role of chief “simplifier” when it comes to women and their money.  😉

  • elaineshannon

    This is great, and knowing that I and many other fabulous business women are not alone and there is hope is wonderful to hear. Thanks for these great easy to follow tips that will lessen the stress

    • SharonODay

      Elaine, whether we’re successful business women or struggling start-up entrepreneurs, rich or poor, young or old … most of us carry distorting messages about money from childhood unless we clear them out proactively … or are just plain ol’ lucky!  So, yes, you’re in great company!

  • This was great and thank you! I tend to under sell myself and not charge what I deserve for my services. I need to think why it is I do that!

    • SharonODay

      Liz, take the time to think back to who or what might have created a “vow” in you that you’re still honoring, although as an adult it makes no sense. That’s where you’ll find your reason why …

  • Love step three, I use visualization all the time 🙂 Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • SharonODay

      Isn’t visualization great, Anita? I don’t know how people have any true motivation and inspiration if they don’t get at what they want in their heart of hearts. Without that, there are just too many distractions!

  • Nisha

    Your third step is great. I know people who SAY they want financial freedom or to be debt-free, but then their spending habits say differently. Great post!

    • SharonODay

      Thanks, Nisha. What’s worse is that many people don’t even know how THEY define “financial freedom!”

  • Amy

    It’s hard sometimes to see things for the way they actually are and not get caught up in an emotional version of events. The three steps really break it down. I know it’s about working the plan. Now I just need to write the plan…. 🙂

    • SharonODay

      Amy, you don’t even need to get bogged down in the writing of the plan. Do Step One over and over again and you’ll get at everything that is triggering you emotionally. Then Step Three, if done well, just needs to be revisited regularly to keep you motivated. The only one that really needs more detail eventually … I call it a spending plan … is Step Two. And once everything else is headed in the right direction, that one’s pretty easy.

  • I can’t wait to read more of your posts!

    • SharonODay

      Thanks, Susan!  One easy way would be to opt in for my weekly email that links to a new article each Monday.  If interested, it’s at http://sharonoday.com

  • Great information, Sharon. I loved the tip know your gap. It’s too easy just to ignore information and hope for the best. It’s a step toward financial responsibility- and it’s so simple! Thanks

    • SharonODay

      Lisa, we accumulate so much baggage around our finances that I find it’s real helpful to give women a toe-hold to get started.  “Know Your Gap” is one of them …

  • Huge subject for so many people right now.  It is very hard for people who had success in the past, and are losing their homes and going bankrupt because the rules have changed about job security.

    • SharonODay

      The rules truly have changed, Sally.  What adds to the difficulty is that so many people who were successful in jobs are forced to start businesses … and may not have the entrepreneurial skills needed to do so successfully.  And that just puts more pressure on precious financial resources …

  • This is a wonderful article Sharon! I love your first tip about killing the gremlins. So many times we do things because of something that was said years and years ago and has taken root in our subconscious. It’s not until you really stop to think about why you do things the way you do, that you realize the gremlins that have been there all along. 

    • SharonODay

      Helena, for me the conflict between what I knew in my head was the right thing to do … and what I actually did … with my money had to be huge before I stopped to figure out why.  That’s when I started finding the gremlins … and became a Master Gremlin Hunter!  😉

  • DianeDP

    Thank you for sharing how to avoid the mayhem, by taking control!

    • SharonODay

       Mayhem’s not good.  😉

  • Fabulous advice Sharon. Really needed to focus on my financial situation and this has helped remind me that with better planning and the right attitude I can sort things out for the better!

    • SharonODay

       The key really is chunking it down, Carolyn.  Rather than allow yourself to be put off by the magnitude of the task, take one step and feel the result.  Very empowering.  And it makes each subsequent step that much easier!

  • Thank you Sharon! Great advice, I especially like when you write about killing the “Gremlins” 😉 When we take control over our finances, we actually take control over many other issues in life we may experience. As money is such an emotional topic, it makes a lot of sense to get finances in order. You are doing a great job to give clarity and support in this area!

  • peepeegandala

    Very nice article thank you Sharon i feel more confident now

  • Alexandra McAllister

    Love this article, Sharon. I love your first tip!! 🙂 Thanks so much….great reminders.

  • Roz

    An excellent article about what stops us from moving forward in life. So often we think we have put the past in the past, only to be reminded or triggered in an unexpected way. Following your steps is a great refresher for any area. I am applying it to my weight. Thanks.

  • Elena

    Love the way you describe each of those three steps. I have had a lot of sudden changes in my life and find myself thinking about them all and feeling overwhelmed. While I realize that this is not productive, my emotional side is winning over my intellectual side. I am glad that my friend, Roz, shared this article on FB. Sometimes you need to hear what you already know but in a nurturing and creative way. Thanks, Sharon!

  • Robert Manea

    We are pretty good balancing our finances.. there was a period of time though that we werent..

  • Martha Giffen

    Wow! Who are you mad at? What an insightful question. Going to be thinking about that tonight!