Can We be Impartial With Ourselves About Our Money?

Impartiality is a hot topic in the press these days. The issue of neutrality led me to wonder if we are fair with ourselves. Are we open to new ideas, facts, lessons learned, or are we just critical with our life choices? I posed these questions to my clients as we reviewed their 2019 year-end financial picture and discussed 2020 goals. I, too, need to answer these questions for the same reasons and for the same periods. What follows is some guidance on how you can create your new year/new decade in ways that make sense for your financial goals, while appreciating your life values, principles, money narrative, and thought process.

Give Grace

A client and I discovered we both overspent with our gift-giving in 2019. We compared notes and found we had the same reactions of being self-critical for going over our personal budgets. In our meeting, when reviewing my client’s finances, she expressed anxiety and fear about the ramifications of overspending in a category. For 2020, she had started planning how not to repeat her “error.” My questions, such as, “How did it feel to buy a gift for your Uncle? Will you walk through the entire process?” brought forth how calm and joyful she felt at the time of buying and giving the gift. Through this process, we discovered that her style of gifting intertwined her life values of generosity and thoughtfulness.

The same is true of me. After some pondering, I don’t regret how I’ve prioritized my life values and resulting financial picture at all. Giving allows me to live my life the way I want to live it.

Everyone has a money narrative; derived from how we grew up with money, what we learned explicitly or implicitly about it. Our money story holds our emotions, which leads to our thoughts and actions. I encourage you to review your 2019 financial actions with a different lens. Flipping your self-narrative from critical to positive can offer a needed reframe of your money narrative.

Consider Trade-Offs

A review and reconstruction of your yearly budget are appropriate. We are all in a constant state of transition. How we think about money, how we spend and save money reflects the changes in our lives. I work with my clients to create their personal Venn diagram – the intersection of your dollars with the collection and prioritization of wants, needs, and life values. If you have already created your 2020 budget, given we are already in February, you may be wise to take another look at it. I encourage you to ask yourself, “Is this budget financially feasible? What do I want to trade-off to make it so?” I previously wrote about The Beauty of Budgets, where I spend a great deal of time reflecting on my relationship to money, my needs, life values, and financial goals. Don’t worry; it isn’t as painful as you think. Setting a budget can bring comfort and clarity.

Give Yourself Affirmation

As we move into alignment, as we gain insight into our personal money story, how we think about our financial picture takes on a different perspective. I heard someone say, “leave your head, and get into your heart.” I wish I had come up with that line as it describes my philosophy of how to think with all systems in concert together. Let me offer, that when you act while considering your life values and priorities, there can be a sense of calmness, of certainty. “This is what I was meant to do,” is an expression I hear when this occurs.

Serenity was what my client felt when she took her son to serve at a food pantry during the holidays, which resulted in his appreciation of the many gifts he has received from his parents. Another client thought it necessary to take his family on a trip to see relatives across the country and altered his financial structure to accommodate that trip. At the end of 2019, I traveled to the US/Mexico border to volunteer with humanitarian non-profits assisting asylum seekers. While I didn’t go there seeking fulfillment, my mission highlighted my need to serve others who are less fortunate – another reason to tweak my financial plan so I can continue to be of service.

Leigh Weinraub, Founder of Mind in Motion, speaks about “honoring the process of reflection,” as it will bring awareness and understanding of who you are, how you think, and where you are going in your life. I invite you to use the philosophy of reflection on your disposable income and your financial goals in the exact same way.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

In this special Year of the Rat, not just a new year but a new decade, which brings with it the promise of prosperity, we can make choices that enable us to provide comfort – mental and physical – for the future. May you move forward this year with joy, enthusiasm, and interest in learning more about and being more impartial with yourself.  If I can be your navigator, sounding board, listening partner, or guide, you know where to find me.

With Warmth and Gratitude – Emily