Are you intimidated or bored to tears by your finances?
First, let’s be clear, traditional money talk can be boring.
Rates of return?
The efficient frontier?
Gahhhhh, what? No, thank you.
But, personal finance is so much more than complex buzz words.
The truth is “financial stuff” is about you; that’s why it’s referred to as
It’s about your goals, aspirations, and values.
It’s about knowing how much money you have coming in and going out, ensuring you have enough in an emergency fund, deciding how much you need to reach financial freedom.
It’s about the money decisions you make daily – “Do I need this new dress?” “Should I refinance my mortgage?” “How am I going to pay back my student loans?”
Personal finance is as much about how you live your life as it is about your money.
While some aspects of finance might seem intimidating, there are things you can do to increase your understanding and feel more in control.
By increasing your financial literacy and learning to ask savvy money questions, you can take charge of your money and ensure you’re making smart decisions that support your short and long term goals.
Might there be some challenges as you work through the learning curve?
Does it help to have trustworthy support from a money mentor or a qualified financial professional?
Will you run into old beliefs that you’re “bad at math”?
Being an effective manager of your money will require some effort, but you know what? It’s so worth it!
Why is finance so complicated?
Why do so many people feel intimidated or ill-equipped to make meaningful money decisions?
Why is a tool (money) we use multiple times a day for nearly every day of our adult life feel so foreign to us?
Well, there are plenty of reasons.
Every industry has its own jargon, but the financial industry is one of the worst offenders. People are intimidated by simple financial concepts because they’re talked about in an overly complicated way (i.e., using a ton of unnecessary jargon).
Sometimes this is a tactic used by financial professionals to make you feel like you need them. Like your finances are so complicated you couldn’t possibly do it without them. Fortunately, not all financial professionals are like this.
On the other hand, some financial concepts are complicated. A financial professional who has your best interest in mind can do a lot to help clarify these money mysteries without making you feel inferior in the process.
Money is taboo
How are you expected to know about money when it’s not okay to talk about it? Money is one of those topics people don’t want to discuss. How do you demystify and simplify a subject you can’t talk about?
Lack of education
We can’t expect people to be interested and well-versed in the subject of money when they receive no formal education. Until courses in personal finance become a regular part of the school curriculum, money will continue to be a topic that feels out of reach for many people.
How to simplify your finances
So, how can you begin to demystify and simplify your finances? How can you work towards becoming the informed manager of your family’s money?
Find an advisor
You don’t need to go it alone. When we want to learn how to swim, ski, or read, we seek a teacher or coach to help us. The same is true when it comes to your finances.
A good financial advisor can help you to weed through the jargon and provide you with a solid financial education. You can ask them questions that will help you develop an understanding of your financial situation, and you can work with them to set up a plan that will allow you to reach your short and long term money goals.
Use online resources
While the amount of information online can be overwhelming, it can also be incredibly helpful. There are a ton of useful financial resources available, and many of them are free. Of course, it’s important to find resources that come from reliable sources. Look for information from people with a strong financial background. Credentials and hands-on experience are paramount.
Take it one step at a time
When you start on your journey to improve your financial education, don’t try to learn everything at once. This is a recipe for overwhelm.
Instead, take small steps daily toward increasing your financial literacy. Start by finding a book or financial blog that speaks to you. Highlight or write down terms you don’t understand and google them. Start a glossary.
Here are a few I recommend: On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, Woman’s Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence by Elenor Blayney, and Women with Money by Jean Chatzky
Reach out to a qualified financial professional, specifically an AIF(R) (Accredited Investment Fiduciary) or a CFP(R) (Certified Financial Professional). These professionals operate as fiduciaries, which means they must make financial decisions that are in your best interest (instead of their own).
By taking small, consistent steps, you will begin to increase your financial knowledge and confidence. There is nothing more powerful than being in control of your money.
No one cares about your finances more than you.
Your finances are the foundation of security, health, and opportunity—for you and your family. Smart money management is the key to having control over your money and your life.
Remember, no one cares about your finances more than you do. So, what small step will you take today to increase your financial knowledge?