Identifying your personal characteristics of spending and saving
Isn’t it strange how women are much more comfortable talking about sex than money? Gather a group of women together and start asking questions about sex, and before you know it, the room fills with laughter as voices rise to a crescendo. Turn to the subject of money, and the same women suddenly go silent, eyes gazing down, fascinated with their fingernails or shoelaces. This happens repeatedly in workshops I lead. Why is that? What is it about the subject of money that makes us crawl into a shell feeling inadequate and intimidated?
Let’s face it: money is a loaded subject for most women, especially Solo Moms who assume responsibility for organizing and running a household by themselves. To gain some insight on how you’ve arrived where you are in relationship with money, you must first identify underlying attitudes and beliefs directing your actions and decisions.
Wait—don’t stop reading yet! There will be no judgment here. You will not be criticized, talked down to, or reprimanded. To effect change, it’s essential to first identify the hows and whys behind your choices, including any avoidance technique you’ve perfected as a quasi-coping mechanism. Identifying spending and saving styles allows you to understand how you act with your money, why you spend either too much or too little on yourself, and what your inner voice keeps telling you to do. Understanding your idiosyncratic tendencies and unique behavioral patterns is the first step toward improving your financial picture. Instead of criticizing yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for continuing to read without clicking to another page. Always remember that our thoughts create our beliefs, which create our actions, which in turn create our reality.
Since you are in control of all the household expenses as a Solo Mom, let’s focus on the two types of relationships people have with money.
First, are you a restrictor or permitter? Restrictors believe in scarcity and are of the opinion they don’t deserve to spend money on themselves. They operate from a place of deprivation and derive pleasure in seeing how little they can exist on. Conversely, permitters numb themselves with overspending and have no sense of limits based on what they realistically can afford. Permitters often ignore credit-card statements, refusing to accept responsibility for their actions. This can lead to escalating stress and hardship.
Right away, you may draw the conclusion that restrictors are “more together” than permitters, and that is not always true. Being stingy with yourself may cause you to miss out on opportunities for career enhancement, improved self-esteem, and enhanced well-being. Treating yourself to a health-club membership, massage, or new pair of shoes can make a huge difference in your outlook. Restrictors often convince themselves they are happy, confusing righteousness with contentment, which can lead to resentment and bitterness. Permitters are motivated by indulgence that, taken too far, can cause chaos in life, allowing one’s inner child to wreak havoc on adult life.
Even if you don’t completely identify with either description, you will see tendencies of one or the other in yourself. The important point is to recognize these attitudes and notice how they affect decision making with regard to money. Now that you are aware of these two character traits, listen carefully to the inner voice counseling you each time you pay the bills or make purchases. Tune in, particularly when it comes to spending money on yourself.
As a Solo Mom, another characteristic you can evaluate in your personal relationship with money is whether you are a doer or dawdler. Doers make lists of things to do, accomplish them one by one, and get satisfaction from crossing them off once completed. Doers create budgets and projections, and monitor spending. Doers get things done! Dawdlers often make the same kinds of lists with the best intentions yet don’t follow through. They get overwhelmed and discouraged by the enormity of the task. There are legitimate reasons for being cautious when making important financial decisions, but continuing to procrastinate is a serious inhibitor on the path to financial success.
It can be daunting to acknowledge and accept that the choices you made have brought you to this exact moment in your life, but take pride in knowing that you are also the one capable of changing your future. Don’t surrender to despair. It is within your reach to identify sabotaging behaviors, stop making excuses, and begin transforming attitudes and behaviors regarding money.
Resist the urge to judge yourself. Permit yourself to envision the kind of freedom you deserve without the worry or concern that comes from not being truthful with yourself. The saying “knowledge is power” definitely applies to your finances. The more you understand why you make the choices you do, the easier it will be to modify them, thereby creating a healthy and flourishing financial future.
If you’re interested in how other Solo Moms manage their finances, submit a question to Sister Chat to get the scoop.
Joanne Leffeld is a former certified financial planner and mom who has studied and taught yoga in the Hudson Valley for many years. Combining her experience in finance and yoga, she calls herself a “moolah doula” and helps people “give birth” to healthier relationships with money. Joanne also leads experiential workshops, teaches students the fundamentals of financial success, and is a partner in her husband’s lighting design firm, Band NY, Inc. Learn more about Joanne by visiting her website, joanneleffeld.com.
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