Lying About Their Money

Lying About Their Money

women spending moneyMost of your girlfriends are lying about their money.

Some might mention something about whether or not they should max out their 401(k) contributions.  Their companies offer matching funds and everyone says they’d be fools not to.  ( Someone from Human Resources probably gave a talk about it last week at work.)

Some others might ponder whether it’s still a good time to be buying physical gold bullion.  After all, its price has already run up a lot this year.  (They’ve caught some of those endless gold commercials, despite Tivo®-ing past most ads.)

You’ll be all impressed and go, “Whoa!  She knows her stuff!”

Unfortunately, the percentage of people who actually take advantage of companies’ 401(k) offerings is pitifully low.  And most people never get beyond watching the commercials about gold bullion, even if the announcer makes it sound as if we’re all headed for Armageddon and everyone should be buying gold.

Sadly, too many of your friends are struggling just to make their credit card, car, and mortgage payments.  Forget investing.

The question is: why is everyone putting up a front?

Well, there are three things at play here:

(1)  The first is that far too many women received no financial education at all growing up.  And then they were too embarrassed to ask anyone where to even start.  So they’re juggling their numbers the best they can.  But that’s not exactly conducive to turning any extra they might have into true wealth.

(2)  The second is that they’ve confused their net worth with their self worth.  They figure if they don’t have a net worth at least as high as they think their friends have, they’re failures.  Hence the low self worth.  The shame of it is that their friends are almost all playing the same game of “Hide the Disaster.”  So it’s a pitiful game of circular posturing.

(3)  And the third is that maintaining the trappings of success is so critical in the media-driven, materialistic society we’ve become in America.  So no one dares blink.  Everyone’s afraid of what the others might say … what “they” might say.  As if “they” would jump in and make a few mortgage payments to keep a friend’s house from going into foreclosure.  When push comes to shove, it’s every woman for herself.  In hiding, of course, with all the panic going on behind lowered mini-blinds.

Some have made the effort to buy a few personal finance books.  (They figure they can get a handle on things without anyone knowing.)  But the books gather dust on the coffee table, under the newsletters they’ve subscribed to and haven’t read either.

Don’t they know they would benefit from actually reading the personal finance books?  Of course they do, or they wouldn’t have bought them.  But what triggered the purchase was their logical, conscious mind.  What’s creating the resistance is something in their subconscious mind.  There’s that niggling idea that it’s going to be boring, so they lack motivation.  And they realize that reading the books might result in some sort of change … and the subconscious is not about to allow for change without some real juicy incentives.

None of the financial chaos in these women’s lives is coming from lack of intelligence.  It’s coming entirely from head-trash that keeps the chatter going in their minds, night and day, 24/7.   And it’s coming from bad money behaviors that can be traced back to childhood messages that were embedded before our brains could decipher between truth and non-truth, or what was “about us” and what wasn’t.

So what can be done to turn things around?

We’ve talked about how to quiet the chatter in the mind in earlier posts.  All that it takes is getting honest with your money.  It might be a case of biting the bullet, and just doing it, but you’ll feel so much better as soon as you do the exercise I recommend there.

As for the unhealthy money behaviors, I’ve identified three large groupings, with four sub-groups in each, for a total of twelve.  The groupings are:

•    Avoiding Money, or the Ostrich Theory of Money Management
•    Worshiping Money, or Praying at the Altar of the Almighty Dollar
•    Mixing Money and Relationships, or Who Used Money to Do What to Whom?

They’re too important to just race through in this article, so I’ll cover one sub-group each in the next twelve articles.

Be sure you’ve worked through the exercise for quieting your mind.

And join me on my Facebook page right now.  Comment and share the link, especially with your girlfriends! Let’s figure out what’s tripping you up and not letting you get control over your money.

  • AngelaBrooks

    Sharon – so much truth in this post! I have a company with a 401 but they do not MATCH at all – I still have one. Alot of people use them to “roll over” and buy retirement. Not sure that is a good idea either. There is so much to know about money other than spending it – I look forward to following your blog for ideas of making that change!

    • Anonymous

      Angela, even without matching funds, a 401(k) is usually a good idea for its tax benefit alone. I know it’s not your case, but for some people it’s the only money they’ll ever save, so at least they have ‘something’ set aside for retirement. Is it the best investment? Depends on what the 401(k) funds are invested IN. There may be something with a safer, better “return on investment” but that requires some market knowledge.

      My goal is to get women to where they’re comfortable in their relationship with money: where THEY control their money and it doesn’t control THEM. At that point, they’re ready to have a valuable relationship with a good, accredited “fee-only” personal finance adviser … or become market gurus themselves! Congrats on the 401(k)!

  • Anonymous

    I had no idea people were so dishonest about their financial situations! I’m one of those that shares too much about mine, so I should probably zip it up a little more. Looking forward to reading about the sub-groups!


  • Anonymous

    I had no idea people were so dishonest about their financial situations! I’m one of those that shares too much about mine, so I should probably zip it up a little more. Looking forward to reading about the sub-groups!


    • Anonymous

      Lily, don’t stop being open about finances! We need people like you to foster the dialog! 😉

  • Sharon, thank you for taking women under your wings to strengthen us in an area we often feel we are inadequate in! I look forward to following your blog for the most up to date financial tips. I’m not yet in a place where I am “comfortable” with money and still need mindset work there! Thanks for all you do, Sharon, but most of all, for who you are!

    • Anonymous

      From what I’ve heard from you, Susan, you’ve got a pretty good handle on where you’re headed financially. The rest will resolve itself as we go through the different parts of this blog/dialog. Thanks for being willing to be a part of it!

  • More women need to pay attention to what you are saying here, Sharon. Although we are not financially independent, we did start IRA’s and 403b’s when we were younger. We are light years ahead of all of our family and those friends whose finances we know a bit about. Thank goodness for putting back for a rainy day, you never know when it might start to pour. Keep the great advice coming.

    • Anonymous

      Carla, I’m thrilled to hear you’ve taken care of yourselves over the years! Why am I not surprised? 😉 Getting a head start makes such a difference, as you let time take care of some of the growth of your nestegg.

  • Crystal

    This puts a lot into perspective Sharon…thanks for writing this and helping us get real honest about our money issues and finding ways to get over it…and get to it!