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Face your finances with love!!

I’m going to ask you a question that no one ever asked me in my lifetime…………

How do you feelabout your finances?!

Personal finance can be a bit of a taboo subject. It doesn’t seem polite to ask someone how much they make, or how they feel about their finances.

It is the number ONE subject that couples fight about in relationships. So how are we addressing this?

As part of becoming a Health Coach I had to do some self-work on my own finances. I soon realized how I had avoided taking the time to really assess my financial world, and more importantly think about how I felt emotionally about my personal finances.

This is probably because it felt uncomfortable for me to do so. I love working with people and making connections. I’m interested in nutrition, fitness, and mental health, but I just don’t love crunching numbers in spreadsheets. We usually do what we enjoy and are good at, and we procrastinate with the rest.

If I am honest, I was avoiding diving into this subject because it was an area of my life that I didn’t feel confident in. I knew I was saving but I didn’t know if it was enough. I knew I made "okay" money that allowed me to have a comfortable lifestyle, but admittedly I had an underlying worry that I was spending too much and felt uncertain about my financial future. I sometimes had thoughts that I didn’t make enough and felt discouraged. Sometimes I found myself thinking life might feel easier if I had more money. However these were thoughts that I never discussed with anyone and I didn’t reach out for help. I didn’t want to talk about money and I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t understand my finances, after all I was an adult now wasn’t I?

Through my studies and finally opening this can of worms I discovered some surprising things. Many people don’t feel comfortable about their financial situation. Like myself, nobody was asking because they too felt embarrassed or ashamed.

"What does this have to do with health?" you might be thinking. If you have ever worried about or felt uneasy about money you will know the niggling persistent stress that comes with that. It is common that people can tie their overall sense of self-worth into their financial self-value. All these thoughts and negative emotions are unhealthy for us and can have long term harmful risks for our health.

So, what can we do? Try these 7 steps!

  1.  Rip the Band-Aid off!  I took a closer look at my money world and decided to take control.  I downloaded Mint (, a great free app that puts your spending into categories and allows for custom budgets to be created.  I took a look at where I was spending large sums of money, and which were the cases that were completely within my control.  
  2. Analyze.  I evaluated my spending and decided where everything was fitting into my value system.  For example, I was spending lots of money on eating out when my priority is to mostly eat home cooked healthy food - for health andethical reasons (support local, support organic).
  3. Budget.  I attempted to set reasonable budgets for my spending and expenses using the online tools.
  4. Check in.  Every two weeks I checked in to see how I was doing.  Everyone can set how often they do this but I don’t recommend checking this a few times a day, it can almost be as unhealthy as stepping on a scale a few times a day, and most of us has been there once or twice to know it’s enough to make you crazy!!
  5. Re-assess. Were my budget items reasonable? Where was I overstepping the budget items most frequently and by how much? Where can I save more? 
  6. Value list. Make a list of everything you value about yourself – remember that money is a representation of value but does not have to dictate your worth. When your spending supports your values and your worth - that's okay in life!
  7. Reward. Celebrate your hard work (treat yourself to something, within your budget of course). If you are like me and don’t love this kind of work, it's nice to acknowledge and have something to look forward to at the end.

Sometimes it is our perceptions around spending that contributes to our poor spending habits and negative feelings towards money. I thought I didn’t make a lot of money but when I looked at how I was spending my money I realized I did - but I was just spending too much! I had an attitude of scarcity around spending money on things like the dentist, flights, education etc, but I had no problem spending $100 on dinner, concerts and vacations. I would complain about how expensive Vancouver is... and itis, but I wasn’t looking at the lifestyle I was living here and how I could make adjustments to optimize my spending to give me the best balance between joy, security, improvement and health.

We live in a material world and it is all too easy to get caught up in consumerism, social media and keeping up with our peer groups. This is specially true for women, with the exuberant amount of beauty and fashion products that women get convinced they NEED, i.e. Eyelashes, Michael Kors handbag, Mackage jacket and I could go on for days here. Women grew up with shows like “Sex in the City” and other dramas that show “everyday women in everyday life” wearing Jimmy Choo shoes, a fresh blow-out hairstyle, Mani/Pedi etc. This sets a very unreasonable expectation for most of us. Don’t get me wrong, all those indulgences are fine if you have money in the bank, your debts paid off and are saving for your future, but the scary thing is that most of us don’t. Research shows women make less money than men, spend more money relatively than men, are in more debt than men and are saving less for our futures ….. this is potentially scary stuff!!!

There are lots of messages out in the world that a man’s success in life is the result of his income. Media doesn’t show models of men that are kind, smart and considerate as successful: instead there is emphasis on how many properties, fancy cars and rounds of drinks you can buy everyone.

People get an education as adults, and unless it happens to be in finance or accounting, they too often still don't understand their own finances. I can’t say that this was fun work, but it was really empowering. It was nice to feel in control and more confident with my spending habits. I was able to change some of my perceptions around my income and spending. I have less underlying guilt and worry when it comes to my spending. So, I would say it was all well worth it!!

I’m not the one to help sort out your finances - for that you need an accountant or a financial advisor. But you can go a long way by yourself, and I will be the one to ask how you feel about finances, and point you in right direction if it is bringing stress and negative self-worth feelings, giving you the tools to set in order your priorities and values regarding looking at money, taking control, not being afraid. I hope by talking about this here it inspires you to think or talk about it and really take a deeper look. Together we can all support one another to have a healthy money mind set!!!