Money Management & Grace
Updated: Jan 30, 2022
The entire purpose of the Empower Community is so that people will have a shame-free, no-judgment zone to talk about personal finances. But I’ll be honest and tell you that Empower is also my response to all of the “money experts” that embarrass, shame and harass people with money advice. There is absolutely no reason to add trauma and fear to people’s mistakes and missteps with money. Many personal finance experts had access and opportunity to learn about finances and make mistakes without catastrophe - most of us did not. I hope you’ll find that Empower is a place to share and give each other grace to learn - together.
I don’t believe that there are absolutes in dealing with personal finances. There is no one way to handle money that will work for everyone in every circumstance. There are a million reasons why someone’s “full proof” plan for fixing your finances might not work. Your feelings and motivations, your background, your income, your ability to tolerate risk - all of that affects your ability to execute a financial plan, even a good one. “One size fits all” doesn’t fit you if you can’t execute it.
Now - there are certain financial ideas that make sense, no matter who you are. Paying off debt, for example, is a good financial practice, in general. But the way you do it, the timing of it, how you prioritize your debt - that could be different, depending on how you relate to money and your future goals. I want us all to relate to money in a way that leads to healthy, productive practices - here are my basic tips:
There are levels to good financial management. I’ve written and talked about these levels a lot because I believe it. We should each define our financial goals, guided by good financial practices and informed by our own circumstances. No one should judge any other person for their current financial level and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be pressured by someone else’s level. Manage your level and keep climbing.
It’s impossible to manage your finances without a system. It could be a paper and pencil, an app or software but you have to have a way to track your income, spending, saving, investing and debt.
Good personal financial management is automated. Good personal finance requires consistency. When you automate your finances - have money moved towards your priorities automatically - you force yourself to be consistent. Financial management is like a diet - it only works if you stick with it. Unlike a diet, you can direct your finances and remove the temptation to “fall off the wagon”. No matter what your personal financial goals are, they require consistency and it’s better if you automate it - direct deposit, monthly investments, automatic saving, etc., etc.
You have to face your feelings when trying to fix your finances. You won’t always make the most rational financial decision and that’s ok. Part of the beauty of good financial management is the ability to acknowledge your patterns. When you have a plan, you will also know when you are deviating from the plan. There will be times when you choose to spend a little more on vacation than you planned, when you choose to buy a fancy car, when a lesser one would be fine - you get to make those choices. You will not always make the rational financial decision. But you should make that a choice, not an accident. Face the decisions that you’re making and accept them while understanding the consequences. That’s true financial freedom - having the ability to make a choice (even if it’s not the best one).
These aren’t absolutes - they aren’t written in stone. But if you’re having issues managing your money, or if you feel like you don’t know enough to take your finances to the next level, then maybe these ideas are for you. I encourage you to face your finances with grace and transparency. Deal with your issues and deal with them fearlessly but don’t let anyone - not even an “expert” shame you for having them. We’ve all got mess, some of us are just bold enough to admit it.