Owning Your Money: It’s an Attitude

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Owning Your Money

A Blues musician I once lived with called it the ‘tude.  And he personified it.  When he walked into a room, without making any effort, conversations shifted and people looked up.  It was all about the energy he exuded.  The ‘tude.

He owned his space.  It didn’t own him.

How you handle your money is no different.

Either you own it.  Or it owns you.

What do I mean by “owning” your money?

It starts with taking responsibility for your financial situation.  And that’s all about the absence of excuses.

Can you have messed up royally?  Absolutely.  But own up to it.  And change it.

Here are some actions that will help you own your money.

1.  Stop hiding.  Women often have psychological issues with money, which come from childhood messaging.  But the beliefs that come from that messaging can be identified and released relatively easily.  Most of them are worn-out myths.  (If you haven’t read it yet, pick up the free report in the upper right hand corner of this page.)

The economic turmoil of 2008 should have shaken everyone up enough to break through any mental blocks.  Although there does seem to be more conversation and questioning about personal finances, too many women actually seem to feel they have even less control over their money than before.

Money is not a topic you can be timid around.  Granted, it takes commitment to break through whatever myths or mistaken beliefs are holding you back, but you do need to do it.

2.  Get comfortable.  Start learning some “money terminology” around things that are most relevant to today’s economy.  Visit sites like The Motley Fool.  Spend time digging around sites with all sorts of calculators, like Bankrate.

Even if at first it bores you to death, pick things to read about that seem somewhat familiar and you’ll suddenly see the pieces of the puzzle start to come together.  Understand inflation and what it does to anything you have in cash or savings.  Read about metals like gold and silver to decide if you’re comfortable putting a bit of your assets into one or the other.  Know enough about the housing market in your region to know what you should do about the home you own (if you do own one).  Know what your options are if you are upside down, that is, if your mortgage balance is greater than your house’s value today.  And know about types of mortgages that you might qualify for, if you could refinance.

In short, be prepared to carry on conversations with people around you:  those you might learn from or whose advice you might seek.  The world economy is not going to get any easier any time soon.  You cannot afford to be a non-player.  You have to be fully engaged in the conversation, or you’ll be left floating … and powerless.

3.  Find an advisor.  It doesn’t have to be a financial advisor, unless you’re ready for one.  But find a mentor who knows more than you do and pick her brain.  Join or form a money club where women can talk openly about money and learn as they go.  The learning you do will go a long way to building your personal confidence around money.

4.  Start saving and investing immediately (no matter how little money you have to start).   Get a savings account set up somewhere, maybe an online one to make it most convenient.  Also set up an IRA or a 401(k), ideally one that is funded regularly from somewhere automatically (whether from your salary or from a personal bank account).

Once it’s budgeted, you’ll be amazed how you can adjust your “needs” to be able to live without the money you’re setting aside.  Then, you’ll be surprised at how fast your savings accumulate when you just add to them and let the interest compound.  (Try some scenarios out on this calculator on the Bankrate site, using just 5 percent annual interest, compounded monthly, and you’ll see what I mean.)

The mere act of saving money has an almost magical empowering ability.  Maybe it comes from knowing you’re doing something for yourself, something to take care of yourself in the future.  Whatever it is, it contributes greatly to the ‘tude!

5.  Strut your stuff.  Once you have come out of hiding, have learned to talk about money, have found someone you can turn to when you need input and have money in the bank … you’ve got ‘tude.  Suddenly people are more willing to do business with you.  Others will invest more in you.  Your boss is willing to pay you more money.  And so on.

You are more self-sufficient.  And independent.

You own your money.

Let me know in the comments below what part of this you find the most challenging.  And let’s see how to get you past it!

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 will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” 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 was just talking to a friend this weekend about starting a book club regarding financial books as she wants to learn more about finances and investing. The more knowledge you have the easier it is to “own it”. 🙂

    • Fabulous idea, Lori!  Let me know what you decide to do and how it goes …

  • Pat

    Great article, Sharon. My big thing is being ashamed of bad financial decisions we made prior to 2008 in our early retirement. We were using leverage to build our nestegg. Well, that went out the door. We lost all our savings, most of our investment real estate, have had to do a reverse mortgage on our primary residence, have 2 houses we can’t sell for what it would cost to build them, have more bills than income, and more. At almost 70 years old, it is scary and how do you dig yourself out?

    • The first thing to let go of, Pat, is being ashamed.  Sounds petty, but it does affect how you relate to money.  Let it go.  BTW, one of the five myths I talk about in the ‘freebie’ ebook on this page is “No one has messed up as badly as I have.”  Wrong!  You aren’t alone in having missed the signals just as you were leveraging your investments.  (I also know how hard you’re working to resolve things, one piece at a time.) 

  • Love this article Sharon! I agree the messages sent in childhood, at least in my generation were that conversations about money were unheard of! Gave off the impression that money was a topic to be avoided…and so here many woman are avoiding the topic! Thanks for giving us the much needed nudge!

    • Denny, the most insidious message was that our self worth was somehow equal to our net worth.  And our net work is never enough.  Talk about disempowering!  No wonder women need a nudge …

  • Sharon, you really hit the nail on the head with this — our attitude impacts every aspect of our lives, and money is certainly no exception. I think people often have financial struggles because they don’t face their money fears, whether that be honestly looking at their debt, or taking the time to learn more about finances. 

    •  Rebecca, so many of those fears come from childhood messaging that most women aren’t even aware they’re carrying around.  So they don’t even KNOW why they avoid the topic of money like the plague.  Fortunately there’s so much more information on the topic these days that we can tackle our fears … and then tackle our finances.

  • I love the straight forward no bull tips you’ve provided to getting a handle on our money. Thanks to many of your tips and gentle but firm guidance we are on our way to digging out of a sea of debt, learning how to live within our means and being thankful for what we have every day. Thank you Sharon for who you are, what you do and for being the pioneer that went before us, through thick and thin to learn how to get a handle on our money.

    •  Carla, watching what you do and how you’ve done it brings joy to my heart!

  • There IS something magical about saving money!  Guess I’ve always sensed that, but you really put it into perspective here.  
    I’ve probably commented about this before, but I have wonderful childhood memories of riding with my dad on his motorcycle down to our little bank, and him saying, “Now see how much interest your savings account earned, just by leaving your money here and letting them loan it out.”  Not that my parents never argued about finances – they did.  But I’m so thankful that I was raised where money was part of life, and we all talked about it. 

    •  And with those memories, Amity, I can only imagine that you’re passing on the best of the lessons to your little ones … 😉

  • Wow Sharon, this is so important! I’m going to work on “getting comfortable”. Thanks!

    • Sara, even if you just start by having an open dialog about money with someone you trust.  Getting words and concepts out of our heads and into words can start breaking down walls and fears …

  • Not many things that are done in ‘secret’ are really all that good for us, including spending.

    • If something were good for us, Matthew, there would be very little reason to do it in secret.  So you’re right!

  • Hiding money is a big thing. I know few women saw that their mom and grandmother did that. so they do now.. I say give money . spend money. use wisely. create cash flow.. do not hide. do not block the flow. Great post as always.

    • Ms. Tatyana, the lady with the amazing story of triumph!  I’m not surprised it would be important for you to create a free flow of cash …

  • Stacey Shannon

    Amazing story, Sharon!  And, you have posted a lot of information for me to think about and explore. It is easy for me to think my husband should know all of this, but if something happened to him I would be in for one rude awakening!  When I was a single mom I was more aware, but I have slacked off since being remarried. Thanks for the reminder, and the advice!  I guess I need to get busy.. 🙂

    • Stacey, it has nothing to do with trusting another person.  I has to do with responsibly taking care of ourselves.  First.  Then we are in a position to care for others.  Whether it’s the oxygen masks in an airplane … or your money … it works the same way!  As they say, “How you do money is how you do everything.”

  • Brilliant post Sharon! I agree too that women often have psychological issues with money, which come from childhood messaging…but we shouldn’t hide our money! We are responsible for how and where we spend our money. So we should use it wisely.

    • Anastasiya, in fact, we’re responsible for how we do everything in our lives.  And those psychological issues?  We can get past them … 😉

  • The ‘tude…brilliant article, Sharon! I appreciate how you lay out a strategy for changing your attitude about money in such a concrete fashion.  All of these tips are excellent, straight shooting and will be of value to so many!  Thank you!

    • Sherie, I try to give readers something concrete to do or think about, as a way of motivating them to change if they need to in order to get to financial peace of mind.  I have to tell you, peace of mind is such a worthwhile goal!  😉

  • Sharon these are great suggestions. I am trying to work on my relationship with money. It is a difficult relationship many people have. I luckily do a good job of saving. Savings helps when business is slow also.

    • Tony, saving is probably the best start you can have in straightening out your relationship with money.  Congratulations!

  • Thank you Sharon for the insightful tips. I think people feel that ‘knock on wood’ feeling if they talk about money out loud. If they say something positive it will all come crumbling down on them. Fear based thoughts which keep us imprisoned.

    • Nothing could be further from the truth, Suzanne!  In fact, one of the “money gremlins” is called repelling money, or pushing it away.  Comes mainly from  judgments against money, or people who had any, that are carried forward from childhood. Here’s an article I wrote about it:  http://sharonoday.com/repelling-money/

  • Excellent and insightful post. I like the part where you mention “come out of hiding” and talk about money. For so many people this is difficult to do. Thanks for sharing your wisdom:)

    • Anita, money and money behaviors, like anything else that’s kept hidden, get stale and less-than-healthy.  You know that from your addiction and recovery work.  Same thing, just a different focus and a different scale.

  • Lori

    Great advice! It is so true that we need to make our money work for us! Thanks Sharon!

    • Lori, in most cases, first you work for your money.  Then, if you do things right by saving and investing, your money works for you.  Nothing worse than missing out on the benefit of well-invested money … although in the new economy it’s not quite as easy as it used to be.

  • Edmund Sun Lee

    Bright ideas Sharon. They would surely help.

  • I’d have to say 2, 3 & 4! I’m terrible with money and I admit it. I don’t talk much about it, have anyone to discuss it with and I certainly don’t invest.
    The simpler, the better as far as I’m concerned, and thanks for keeping it easy to understand. Many who deal with it like to keep it complicated so they appear like gods to us mere mortals!

    • Tara, you’re right about overcomplicating it.  In fact, that’s why some people call it “finances” and others call it “money.”  Same-same.  And, truth be told, anything you want to do with your money can be done with 6th-grade math.  So where’s the mystery?  (Glad you’re reading …)

  • Sharon, superb advice. Indeed, while the 2008 debacle has shaken up many, actually taking action is something entirely different. We have dropped the dining out more-or-less, but the bigger choice to save rather than spend, well, in fact, do you see me hiding? I wouldn’t like to.

    • Diane, we all have a personal comfort level, based on what’s coming in and what’s going out.  So, money decisions are real individual.  My main focus is just honesty and accountability … just to be sure to have the money dialog going, i.e., “not hiding.”  😉

  • I believe that you must have a positive attitude about money, because you attract what you put out into the world. If you fear money, it will become hard to keep money in your life. Money is a necessity in this world, whether you like it or not. I’ve made a relationship with my money. I understand where it’s going, and what I need to do with it.

  • Susan Schiller

    This is a new image to plant in my imagination: “Strut my ‘tude!” I don’t have the ‘tude yet but I’m going to definitely imagine having one by taking the steps you’ve outlined. My husband is very wise with money, so money is something we talk about a lot – that’s been helpful in forming a new money mindset, for me. I can relate to this illustration and it’s just what I needed to hear today – thanks, Sharon!