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Personal Finance: Where numbers and emotions collide

When I was 8 years old, my parents got divorced. Like most relationships, there were many layers that ultimately led to this decision. One layer that had a significant impact was my parents' finances. Just before filing for divorce, my dad filed for bankruptcy, and a few months later, we lost our house. Now that I am older and I have had the opportunity to have a more mature conversation with my mom about the events that led to the culmination of both events, a few life lessons stand out.

One of the fun things about my job as a financial counselor is I get an inside peek into people's financial lives that aren’t normally talked about or displayed to others, and the thing I find interesting is that the things my mom experienced are not unique, they are actually fairly common!

Lesson #1: The connection between financial stress and mental health is real.

In many cultures, we don’t talk about money. It’s considered rude to ask someone how much money they make at their job or how much debt they have. We are, however, really good at sharing when we are living in abundance, get a promotion or buy something new we are excited about. This can create a sense of isolation and shame when those situations aren’t your experience.

In my early 20’s, I moved to the Philippines, and I was excited to learn the culture and the language. I learned very quickly, though, that it was going to be harder than I was expecting. On one particular day, I was feeling really down and frustrated at my progress, and my language teacher looked at me and said, “This is normal. It is normal to struggle. Congratulations for being normal!” You know, it’s shocking how much relief I felt by simply acknowledging that what I was experiencing was normal.

Feelings of stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and hopelessness are all normal when you are also experiencing financial stress. Take a second today to give yourself some grace and acknowledge that what you are experiencing is normal.

Lesson #2: Asking for help is hard, but can be a big help!

In a very vulnerable moment, I recall my older sister calling one of my mom's best friends and asking her to come over because my mom wasn’t in a place to ask for help herself. While that friend couldn’t change her situation, she was a positive influence for good and ultimately helped my mom get to a place where she could begin taking one small step forward at a time. When we reach out for help, it can break the bubble of isolation and bring in others who can help us on our financial journey.

You may consider making a list of people you trust, who have your best interest at heart, and who have already overcome the struggle you are facing. Keep this list handy so when you find yourself in a vulnerable position you have a list of people who you can call on.

Lesson #3: Our confidence in being able to find and believe that a solution exists brings the biggest relief.

Have you ever heard of the experiment that Harvard did that tested a mouse's ability to tread water? If you haven't, here's the cliff notes version. A researcher put a mouse in a tank of water and let him tread water until exhaustion. Just before the mouse began to drown, he plucked him out of the water. The mouse lasted an average of 15 minutes. The second time the researcher would put the mice in the water they lasted 60 hours. That's right, 6-0- hours! Their conclusion, when we have hope and we believe that there is a solution, we can continue going much longer than in a state of hopelessness.

You have the ability to make a change! You have the tools and resources to make the changes needed to experience less financial stress! Our team of financial guides is here to help fill you and your employees metaphorical financial toolbox with the tools and resources you feel are missing so that you can feel confident knowing that you are making the best decisions for your situation.  Here at Your Money Line, we don’t shame beginnings! We are here to be a thought partner on your financial journey and the best part is all of our interactions are 100% confidential and 100% free of charge! Reach out to talk to our team today to learn more how we can help!