We’ve heard many times that “We are our own worst enemy”. 

 

From the way we talk to ourselves, to the day to day decisions we make, to the way we eat or the exercise we may (or may not be getting).  If we look, we can see examples of it around us every day.  One example that we don’t typically see is that of financial shame.  We don’t see it, because most of us don’t talk about it.  But I’m here today to say:

 

Financial shame is alive and well, and for many of us it’s so strong that it’s significantly affecting our financial confidence AND our future financial security.

 

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, author of Breaking Money Silence*, reports that almost half of American’s say that the most difficult topic to discuss with loved ones (and I would add ANYONE) is their personal financial situation. 

 

Financial shame, and the silence that goes along with it, effects many of us.  I actually see it so much that I would add that to our list of silent epidemics.  Financial shame screams during situations of elder financial exploitation…. Often times someone that’s fallen victim to a scam, won’t even report it to family or officials because of the embarrassment that comes along with being a victim.  Much more discretely, I see instances of shame creeping into the day to day lives of most of those around us.  

 

Did you think it was just you?  (That’s common too.)

 

We feel it, but we don’t talk about it, and then many of us end up finding ourselves

financially paralyzed by it.

 

And when it creeps in, if we let it, it can (and will!) take hold and ultimately affect our

long term financial security.

 

So, what are examples of financial shame? 

 

  • Embarrassment or regret about past financial decisions
  • Fear of being judged because of our money
  • Fear of making bad financial decisions now or in the future
  • Comparing our financial “worth” to someone else’s and being embarrassed about it

 

How can you kick those feelings of financial shame to the curb and move ahead in 2019?

Here are a few suggestions to move past it and on to the road of financial confidence and security:

 

  1. Accept that the past is the past, and let it go.  What’s done is done and today is a new day.  It’s what you do from here that matters most. 

 

  1. Work on not comparing yourself to others.  We have no idea what skeletons are in our neighbors’ closet, or what’s really going on in their bank accounts.  You see their best (and are probably comparing that with what you see to be your worst).  Fear (and envy) and gratitude cannot co-exist. If you find yourself comparing, get off that path by quickly thinking of three things you are grateful for. 

 

  1. Open up: Find help and encouragement.  Whether it be by hiring a financial planner, a financial therapist or finding a loved one you can confide in and use as an accountability partner, having someone to help you through this journey tends to greatly increase your chances of success.  If you decide to use a friend or family member as an accountability partner…make sure they are really holding you accountable! 

 

  1. Progress over perfection – Get started, don’t wait for the “perfect time”.  Baby steps can be key, you won’t be perfect right out of the gate (or ever for that matter). 

 

  1. And don’t forget to celebrate successes and reward yourself for a job well done! 

 

 

 

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*Breaking Money SilenceÒ, How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances and Live a Richer Life.  Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, published September 2017