How to Absolutely Own your Money Choices
3 Essential Tools for Relieving Money Stress
There I sat, sobbing my eyes out. Feeling a deep, dark despair trying to take over. My family scratched their heads and told me to stop crying. My friend (I only shared my despair with one) told me it would be okay, but felt totally inadequate and didn’t understand what was going on.
In fact, no one understood. They totally couldn’t see a cause for my tears.
You see, I had just bought myself a brand new car. The normal reaction to something like this is NOT tears. It is joy and celebration. But I felt completely and totally despairing. I didn’t tell a single soul why. In fact, this is the first time that I am sharing the real cause of those tears, sobs and despair.
When I was a little girl, I cried every time my family bought a new car. So my family thought the same thing was happening. I totally let them think that. Because in fact, I did feel the same sadness. But I had to dig deeper to find the REAL reason for my tears.
You see, when I was a kid my dad would buy a new car every year or two. First and foremost, I absolutely abhorred those family trips to the car lot. My dad was grumpy and would yell at us to sit still and be quiet. Mom was grumpy because she didn’t want to trade cars because she knew the state of our finances. She knew that things were stretched thin and we were going to have to sell something to pay the bills, so she didn’t have patience for us either. For me, this was torture because not only were my parents grumpy, but we were getting rid of cars that I had gotten comfortable in. I didn’t want to get used to a new car. And on top of all that, I was miserable. I hated being where people I didn’t know could see me. I didn’t want them to talk to me and I especially didn’t want to trudge all around looking at cars when I could be at home reading my book in quiet and comfort.
So, you see it made sense for them to think my tears were the same. I was giving up a car that I was comfortable with and now I had to get used to a new car. I let them think that, because I was embarrassed by the real reason.
Recently, I shared the story about the decision I made when I was 15 years old. The decision where I decided I wasn’t going to struggle with money like my parents did, you can check that out here.
Truthfully, that was the best decision I have ever made. But here I was in my 20’s and I was having my first true instance of doubt in that decision and my ability. Up until this time, I had done great and felt great about my relationship with money.
- I lived on my own
- I had paid for my own braces as a teenager
- I had no debt other than student loans
- I was making good money in my accounting career
I knew I had a solid relationship with money. But there was a sneaky part of my money story that reared its ugly head. And it presented itself on the day I bought my first new car. So odd you might say. But in truth it wasn’t odd at all.
You see, my parents struggled with money. One of the reasons for that struggle was that my dad was always buying new cars. Not upgrading from one used car to another, but trading in a year old car for another brand new one. You all know what happens in those cases. You end up upside down. The value of the car is less than the remaining balance on the loan. Because as they say, new cars decrease in value the day you drive them off the lot. And that takes a few years to right itself. I heard this argument many times between my parents. It became an ingrained part of my money story.
I tied purchasing new cars to financial distress as well as poor decision making. My story told me that any time you bought a brand new car, you were making a BAD decision. Was that true? Not at all.
But for the first time in my adult life, I had extreme anxiety over money. I had just committed myself to being in debt for something that was totally NOT valued at the amount of my debt. So I cried, I regretted signing my name to those documents and I was totally freaked out that there was no way I could right the situation.
So, how did I resolve that anxiety? There were a few key things that I did.
- Realign with your core values. I went back to the dealer and switched out the car for the lower end model. This only saved me a few thousand dollars, but it felt more in line with who I was and what was important to me. Having bells and whistles on a car was never important to me and still isn’t. Getting the car in alignment with what had value for me, helped relieve my anxiety in a big way. I had allowed myself to get swept up in the excitement of a new car as well as swept along with what the salesman thought I wanted. Making that one simple change allowed me to feel really good about purchasing the car and having the debt.
- Own the decision and take control. I bought a new car. I had to own it and put myself in the driver’s seat. For me this looked like making consistent effort to pay off the debt quickly. So, I paid extra on the loan every single month. Some months it was only $5, others it was $50. But taking this step, owning my decision and paying a little extra on the loan helped me feel in control and know that I could handle this debt without getting into trouble. And I paid off that car in less than three years, I felt like a total bad ass!
- Trust Yourself. I had to take a step back from the anxiety and look for what my intuition was telling me about the purchase. I knew that money and I had a good relationship, and I knew that I had to get back to that place of knowing and trust. At the time, I didn’t know that I was listening to my intuition, but I was. I can remember taking a few deep breaths and asking myself what would make me feel better about this purchase. As I became more grounded, the above two action steps came to me. So, that Saturday morning as I completed the purchase of my brand new Honda Civic I realized that I wasn’t my parents. I had already done so much to change my relationship with money. I knew I could trust myself to handle this.
This is what I bring to my clients. I know exactly how it feels to regret a financial decision and feel totally out of control with money. But I also know that it is possible to change those things. I work one-on-one with my clients to help them tap into their own intuition, see what they really want and what is important to them, and take back control of their money story. This builds trust in yourself and that trust leads to a better relationship with money, so that my clients and you too can feel good about the money you have and attract more when you want it.
What about you? Have you taken back control of your money story? Comment below and let me know!
Sherry Parks is a Money Mindset Coach who helps women escape feeling stuck and trapped by their finances, so that they find more joy and wealth for their lives. Check out her 5 Steps to a Better Money Story workbook here.
To connect with Sherry, join her women-only Facebook group Lives in Balance.