Why is it so darn hard to look at our numbers?
This is a question I’ve spent many-a-session exploring with my clients over the years, and within myself since I began addressing in my own relationship with money years ago.
If sitting down to look at the hard and fast numbers of your finances scares you to death . . . welcome to club.
While there are some of you that consider tracking your finances a walk in the park (I know you’re out there!), for most of us it’s terrifying, regardless of where we fall on the economic scale.
In today’s article, I’d like to address why it’s so scary to look at your numbers, and give you some solid invitations for working through the resistance so you can finally look at your numbers and create a money practice that’s nurturing.
Simply put, your “Money Practice” can be defined as the steps you take on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to help bring more clarity, peace of mind and success to your financial life.
In its basic meaning, any “practice” is simply a healthy habit we do on a regular basis that, over time, provides a cumulative benefit. Physical exercise, tending a garden, or even brushing your teeth are all great examples. The benefits here are, respectively, a healthy body and mood management, a garden that yields food or flowers, and clean and strong teeth and gums that support the health of the whole body.
However, before we can go there, there’s this gnarly prerequisite to address: Your willingness to peek.
(And even for those of you who have an existing money practice, is there a place in your financial life where you shy away from looking squarely at your numbers?)
Look at how much money you have, how much money you owe, where money comes in, and how it goes out.
Easy-peasy? Not so much.
So . . . why is it so hard?
Well, there’s no one answer.
Many people are simply terrified of what they will see. Some are in denial about their finances and struggle to move beyond that blindness. Others are paralyzed by shame, grief, rebellion, unforgiveness, or painful money stories from their childhood. Others are worried that the money flow will stop if they look at the numbers and prefer to do ‘magicial bookkeeping’ (which takes place in our minds).
In short, we have very good reasons for resisting the truth of our financial life. However, there are even better reasons for moving through it.
What’s on the other side?
No matter what, on the other side is truth.
Often, you’ll find relief.
Freedom, motivation, comfort, awareness, clarity, and peace can be found there, too.
Once you’re willing to peek you could find that . . .
- You’re making more income that you thought! Time to celebrate this. Really! I have had clients pleasantly surprised that they are bringing in more than they thought they were.
- You do have choice, and you can shape your financial decisions without overspending! I’ve worked with clients who are making a nice amount of income, but are totally unconscious when it comes to shaping that fabulous income, and therefore are going into debt by over spending. Just a smidge of awareness, shaping, adjusting, and tweaking does wonders here.
- The bravery to peek is the catalyst to ending a painful money pattern of denial and unconsciousness. It’s amazing to watch someone take their head out of the sand, and stop perpetuating their painful money story with just a little attention and love towards the truth of their numbers.
- There’s a recurring charge that you didn’t know about, and no longer use. I call these money leaks! This happens all the time. You’ll see where you may be hemorrhaging money. It may be obvious in your mind, or you might have no idea. Your numbers will tell you.
After looking, come choices . . .
Remember, looking is looking. It’s observing. And learning! We are constantly learning what is working and what is not. And always bringing a big dose of compassion to our past decisions and patterns so we can grow.
The choices part? A whole other can of worms. 🙂 But remember that once you look, any choice you make will be a conscious one, and that is truly what matters most here.
For example, say you finally look at your numbers and you’re completely surprised how much you spend on high quality food. Some people in this scenario choose to continue spending just as much at Whole Foods because they’re clear that it’s that much of a priority for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, they find another expense that they value less, and reduce spending there. Others will choose to cut way down, or shop at a different store. For example, our teenager told us to switch to Trader Joe’s recently to save money so we decided to hack our family’s budget and listen to him!
Whatever your choice, it’s the right choice. The fact that you’re choosing is most important.
There is so much to be seen, understood, changed once we are willing to look…..
6 Invitations to Work Through Resistance and Peek at Your Numbers!
- Feel Your Feelings! Do a body check in and ask yourself honestly, “Why have I been afraid to look?” or “What does this remind me of?” or “What’s the deeper layer’s here?”.
- Eye on the Prize: Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing this! Get clear on the benefits of looking at your numbers (you may not know until you get to the other side). But try to write them out to keep you grounded in your intentions. “I am ready to take an honest look at my numbers because I want to feel empowered and more clarity …”
- Decide who you are ready to look with. Yourself? Your honey? A friend?
- Get Clear & Honest about Additional Support. Consider what you need to put in place to help you move forward. Some good options include:
- Figure out how you are going to access your data – your numbers.
- Have you been tracking in Mint, Quicken, YNAB or Quickbooks, but never pulled up a report to look at them?
- Are you going to pull out your bank statements or go to your online banking?
- Is it time to finally set up a tracking system so that you don’t have to search high and low, and make it all much easier?
- How about hiring a bookkeeper to help you – ask us for our referral list.
- Time to take one next step…
- Plan Your After-Party. Think about how you’d like to celebrate yourself after looking. Is there a special treat, ritual, or activity that you can look forward to once you bravely attend to your numbers?
And . . . no article of mine would be complete without this one trusty tool:
Bring the chocolate.
To learn more about money dates, money practices and learning to peek at your numbers, sign up for my Money Date Workshop!