Finding Peace Within Personal Finance
Finding peace is a crucial step in your financial independence journey. Without peace, a plan quickly becomes chaos and years of progress can turn aggressively into regression.
According to Ramsey Solutions, "Almost three out of four Americans (72%) say they are burdened by debt, including mortgages. And two-thirds of Americans (66%) reported consumer debt, with an average of $34,055 debt load per person." Worse yet, this same 2017 study also indicated that the higher the level of household income, the greater the amount of consumer debt.
With these levels of debt across the board it is difficult to imagine that many are at peace with their finances. The most difficult aspect of debt is that it reflects decisions made in your past. Having peace with your past is certainly easier said than done, especially when it comes to your finances. However, it is not impossible. It can be done.
How To Make Peace With Your Financial Past: 3 Steps
1. Own it.
Whatever your past mistakes may be regarding personal finance, take ownership of them. Take full responsibility and recognize that you cannot change the past, but you can control the present. If you continue to blame the economy, injustices, bosses, organizational structures, and society for your present financial situation, you are putting something at fault that you readily have little to no control over. Even worse, all of the aforementioned take a very, very long time to change.
This leaves us with one option, take ownership of our situation which places the power of change firmly back within our grasp.
2. Radical Acceptance.
This step goes hand in hand with step number one of ownership. Radical acceptance involves eliminating all toxic and destructive behaviors surrounding your personal outlook on line. Eliminate your bitterness towards the world and resentment that you have for past decisions. Realize that the only path to peace, especially financial peace, is to recognize toxic behaviors as quickly as possible and quit reacting destructively to those feelings.
How? Mindfulness is an absolute must here. Meditation is an excellent practice that can show benefits even with just a few minutes per day. The trick is to be consistent with meditation above all else. The minute you lose momentum with meditation the quicker you will return to your old impulsive self. Remember, meditation has nothing to do with actually clearing your mind. Rather, it is the important practice of sitting alone with your thoughts and gradually, over time, becoming friends with your mind. Most people are too afraid to sit alone with their thoughts so they assume they are poor meditators because of this. This is the entire point of meditation. Bring awareness to your thoughts and recognize that immediately after you have them there is a small space where you get to choose how you react to them.
3. Control What You Can Control.
To move forward in a positive direction financially, focus on the things that you truly can control. Expending energy on complaining about the government, your bosses, or the weather are not only poisoning your mind but also preventing you from focusing your energy on things that you can control- such as your savings rate, reading, and otherwise sharpening your mind and body through exercise and meditation.
Admittedly, their are some things that you cannot readily and easily have control over, despite just how wrong they may be. For example, their are injustices in present society that appear to take entirely too long to be rectified. If you are black or otherwise a person of color, perhaps you do have an entirely different experience growing up than those who are white. You are not alone. Take a listen to Episode 216 of ChooseFI's podcast featuring Chris Browning of Popcorn Finance and be sure to look at the show notes of Episode 216 for some strong community voices to be heard.
Show Yourself Some Compassion
All three steps above are most successful when we can show ourselves some compassion. If we made a previous mistake, now is not the time for judgement. Rather, now is a time for action.
Keep learning about personal finance. If investing scares you, take a look at how you can start to learn about investing to make is less terrifying.
Perhaps you have no idea where to cut expenses to begin saving. Start reading articles about saving money and listening to podcasts on frugality and personal finance.
Comment below if you have some considerations for how to further make peace with your finances and begin living in the present.