Since launching this site we’ve talked to hundreds of people about their money, their goals, and their financial problems. Between conferences, friends, strangers on social media, and our loyal readers we get messages daily asking for help.
Naturally, one question our friends ask us is, “what is one pattern you’ve noticed or one thing you’ve learned after meeting all of these people from all walks of life?”. So today we are going to talk about that, and what you can learn from it. The theme we always come back to is fear.
Fear Is The #1 Driver For Many People… And It Often Leads To Financial Problems
We strongly believe that money problems, whether that means never sticking to your budget, failing to even build a budget, or spending on short term things that you know aren’t bringing you happiness (cough TV cough), are usually just a symptom of a larger issue.
Maybe you are unhappy at your job so you self-medicate with your credit card.
Perhaps you feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t healthy for you. Or you feel out of shape and unhappy with the way you look. It’s easy to see how these things might drive you to spend money on things that will temporarily bring you up. Thousands of dollars of credit card debt later, it may feel like the mountain is just too big to climb. Or the hole is too deep to dig out of.
Our friend Thane, who is rising to fame for his 2,632 day workout challenge (yes, that’s over 7 years) over at https://www.facebook.com/EverydayWorkoutMan/, introduced us to the idea of asking “why” five times when trying to get to the core of an issue.
For example, a friend recently bought a pair of sneakers that she didn’t need. To get to the core of the issue we simply just asked her “why”.
TFT: Why did you buy the sneakers?
Her: I really wanted them!
Her: I really liked the way they looked and I wanted a new pair!
Her: I just got my paycheck and I wanted to get the sneakers now while I had the money.
Her: I didn’t have an awesome review recently so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be there, so I wanted to be sure to get the shoes now.
Her: I am afraid I won’t have the money to buy new shoes when I actually need them.
Boom. Did you just see what happened? Initially she wanted the new sneakers because she “really wanted them and liked the way they looked”. By the end of our chat she understood that she was actually afraid she’d be broke and wouldn’t be able to afford new shoes when she actually needed them.
The tragedy here is that this fear of not having money actually led her to do something that only hurt her personal finances, only getting her closer to her fear.
This is a theme that we see over and over again.
Fear Of Always Being Broke
People talk about FOMO and JOMO but why aren’t more people talking about FOBB (Fear Of Being Broke)?
The one thing that we’ve noticed is that the fear of always being broke can be crippling to your finances. You’re so afraid that you’ll never see this money again that you spend it all now. It’s a vicious cycle of living check to check.
You NEED to get rid of this ‘broke’ or ‘poor’ mindset in a hurry. You don’t need the new gadgets or fancy things the minute you get paid. Instead, begin to save and invest for your future and your family. The sacrifice and discipline it takes to live within your means and build a better future takes a lot of effort, but it’s going to be your way out. There are no shortcuts here.
We grew up with virtually no money but we still had the best time. We are no longer afraid of being broke, because we’ve already been there. And we survived it. And letting go of that fear allowed us to focus on working hard in school to do well and reach our dreams.
Life is hard and you only have a finite amount of energy. Don’t use it to worry about not having money. Use it to go out and grow and make money.
Fear Of Failing And Letting Loved Ones Down
We grew up seeing our mom live this way. We still remember every year at Christmas my mom would always give us our dream Lego set. Of course we were always so happy to open these gifts and would play with them for months on end. Literally months on end.
It wasn’t until we were older and realized how expensive these sets were (often $150) that she must have literally spent every single penny she had on these gifts. Raising 3 children on her own after my dad died, put a tremendous amount of financial strain on her since my dad didn’t have life insurance.
Reflecting on my mom’s selfless gifts has definitely caused a few tears to roll down our faces, but it also caused us to realize that her fear of not being able to give us gifts, or her fear of being seen as a bad mother drove her to give us things that she couldn’t afford.
Now that we are older we wish she would have used part of that money to save for retirement. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you need to prioritize your safety, health, and finances before you start to focus on anything else.
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Fear Of Letting Ourselves Down
No one is immune to this. We’ve both dealt with self-doubt and the fears that arise from wanting to reach our full potential. It's also common to be afraid of having your peers think you aren't successful.
You have to realize that there are some things that you do that are not in yourself best interest. Are you doing this to sabotage yourself so you have an excuse if you don’t reach your goals? We’ve certainly procrastinated for this very reason. Playing video games the night before a final exam is probably not the best idea. In the moment, you know it’s not a good idea, but it’s so easy to say, “just 5 more minutes”, and 2 hours later you’re still not doing what you should be doing.
The same thing applies to your money. Creating a financial budget and sticking to it is work. If it were fun, you’d be rich by now. Don’t let your fear of making mistakes with your money hold you back!
What Can I Do To Overcome My Fear Of Making Money Mistakes?
There’s a few things you can do to overcome this fear. The first thing you NEED to do is to practice self kindness.
I bet you that if we asked you to write down 3 things you are good at and 3 things you are bad at, you’d be able to list 100 things you are bad at before you come up with 3 things you are great at. Try it. Write 3 negative things about yourself. Now write down 3 awesome things about yourself.
You need to change the narrative in your head about yourself. If you make a mistake, that’s okay. Forgive yourself and don’t beat yourself up. Just learn and move on. Being kind to yourself will have a contagious effect and you’ll start to be more positive and optimistic.
Personal finance is a long term journey so you’ll need the optimism and confidence to get through the dark times and the money problems.
Find Your Community!
A 2nd thing you can do is to find a community of people who will help support you and go through the process with you. We are launching a Finance Twins Facebook group so that you have a place where you can connect with like-minded people and ask/answer questions related to your personal finance journey. Overcoming financial problems or reaching your goals is hard enough, don't do it by yourself.
As we’ve learned the hard way, the only way to make it through the toughest experiences is through a strong support network.
Know that you have a strong group of people can make all the difference in a moment of weakness or if you are being overcome by your fears and might be making less than ideal decisions.
Finally, create a financial budget and stick to it. Take the guesswork out of what you should do with your money by creating a budget. The more you can focus on kicking ass at your job the better. You’ll start to see your income grow, your career progress, and your wealth build. We know you can do this! Just remember that you don’t have to do this alone.