Often times when people think about money management, we think about the mechanics of making more and spending less. However, that is a huge mistake.
Money management is all about behavior. Everyone has very different ways of processing information, stress triggers and ways that help us positively cope with stress. What stresses one person out to the max will make another person flourish. It’s a major mistake not to take into consideration of your personality type when it comes to life and more specifically finances.
Take for instance an introvert (a person who gets energy and feeling revived by having alone time), if they have a job that makes them constantly in the public eye throughout the day and then have to go to outings at night for work.
That would stress them out, right?
If they stay in this career path over time this person is likely to experience a prolonged period of stress. Do you think this person would have the mental energy at the end of the day to think about their financial future?
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I personally have experienced this prolonged period of stress that ultimately almost broke me from a mental perspective. Which sounds devastating (and honestly it really is); however there is beauty in brokenness.
Having recently experienced hitting complete and total financial rock bottom after a significant relationship ending (I’m talking holding your breath at the checkout counter and hoping and praying your transaction clears), I know the value of this blessing in disguise. Let me tell you a little bit about my story.
The Humble Beginnings
I grew up from humble means and was determined I was going to create a better life for myself. Like most people wanting a bright future, I went to college. I was determined I was going to be successful.
I wanted success so bad that I decided to go the safest and most assured route to go about gaining that. As the 20-year-old version of me would assure you, pursuing the traditional route of success (in my particular case) a degree in Finance was the way to do it.
The Psychology Behind The Behavior
Psychologists say there are different levels of consciousness. Two of which are the ego and your intuition.
Your ego is the side of your brain that doesn’t like the unknown. It tries to keep you safe.
Your intuition is essentially your moral compass. It’s the quiet yet nagging feeling or the “inner voice” of what aligns you with your true passions.
Despite the nagging feeling of my intuition, I was doing this for the wrong reasons and didn’t fit in line with my true interests, which is humans and what makes them tick, I wanted financial success.
I was so insecure about where I was in life that I was just going to “push through” those feelings and just grin and bear it while pursuing this traditional method of financial success.
The Build Up To Financial Breakdown
As I progressed in school, I began to accumulate debt as most college students do.
Financial Checkpoint: $53k debt = ($7k in credit card debt + $6k car loan + $40k student loan debt)
Because I didn’t enjoy my major, I struggled in school. Despite not being interested in the technical aspects of the major and suffering the consequences of missing deadlines, forgetting major test dates, etc. I actually almost made it through. Then in my last semester, I failed a class. Being the headstrong individual that I am, I decided to try for the class 2 more times. Subsequently causing me switch my major to something that I actually enjoyed.
But, I tacked on some additional student loan debt.
Financial Checkpoint: $73k debt = ($7k in credit card debt + $6k car loan+ $40k student loan debt + $20k in student loan debt for extra year)
Finally, after 6.5 years, I graduated college. I had to pick a job and I chose Human Resources. The problem was, I was in a job for the money and job security, even though it didn’t highlight my natural talents and personality type. This subsequently created issues at work that I now realize are signs of being in the wrong career path.
Due to my overall sense of hopelessness, and jealousy of those around me having success in their careers, I began to drink in excess. I would berate them for everything I could find fault in. Not surprisingly, this caused issues in my personal and professional life.
I was mentally shut down, and the stress I was in over the fear of losing my job began to physically manifest itself in my life. The lies and pride caught up with me and I was put in the ER for vertigo and extreme migraines caused by stress.
Financial Checkpoint: $74k debt = ($7k in credit card debt + $6k car loan + $60k total student loan debt + $1k hospital)
My significant other caught on to my performance issues. He exchanged phone numbers with my boss to keep an eye out on me. Within a month, he left me, saying, “I just need someone to pay all the bills and let me do whatever I want”.
Shortly after, my car dies (when it rains it pours)! Not having any money in savings, I had to finance another one.
Financial Checkpoint: $94k debt = ($7k in credit card debt + $6k old car loan+ $60k total student loan debt+ $1k hospital +$20k car debt)
Due to my extreme pride, I decided I was going to prove him wrong. So, I moved to a bigger, faster-paced city to make more money in a tougher industry. It had a high turnover rate. Desperately and blindly, I then switched to another job shortly after (and then 3 jobs later within a year).
Finally starting to come out of auto-pilot mode, I moved back home to my family. Financially, emotionally, and career drained, I finally hit rock bottom. However, being ever the incurable optimist, I decided to start my blog: My Work Money Life to share all of the financial lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
What Did I Learn From This Endeavor?
Being alone and having hit rock bottom, I had a lot of time for self-reflection. Reflection over every mistake I ever made. It’s ironically refreshing to get out of auto-pilot and realize how self-destructive I had been. If this is you, please do not think this is the end. There is always hope. You can always change things around. You can safely talk about it without judgment!
You Learn The True Value Of A Dollar
When you are completely financially broken and have very little income coming in, you really start to look at your money differently. You will begin to understand the opportunity cost of what it takes to get the very few dollars you do have.
The Chains of Comfort Are Gone
Being broke, your desire to uphold a certain lifestyle is completely ripped out from under you. Making a change for the better is a whole lot easier when you don’t have anything to hold on to.
You Learn Who Really Cares About You
It’s amazing how quickly you will find who really cares about you when things go south in your life. Take note of people’s actions if this actually happens to you. It’s amazing how many people will exit your life, but even more amazing is seeing those who with you.
Your Pride Is Gone
People can smell broke from a mile away. You may be able to fool them for a short amount of time with a shiny new technology, a new wardrobe, or in my case, a new job solely for the money. Once they realize that, people will exit your life as fast as they came into it. Therefore, crushing your once blinding and costly pride.
You Stop Trying To Hide
Given the fact that your pride is gone, you stop trying to hide your brokenness. Now you know it’s useless to try to hide. You can stop trying to impress people that you don’t like with money that you don’t have, which is my favorite Dave Ramsey quote, and start taking actionable steps towards a better future.
You Gain Empathy
Given the fact that I have experienced complete and total brokenness, I have gained empathy for other people in similar situations. I am determined to help others get out of their psychological barriers regarding finances.
That’s why I created my 5-day money email challenge (with access to my Facebook Support Group). This money challenge is not only to gain insight on the practical “how to’s” of managing finances but the psychological barriers of money management. It dives deep into pinpointing the psychological triggers of overspending.
All in all, the desire for money to set up a decent life for yourself is not inherently bad. However, focusing solely on money can create negative consequences for you and the loved ones around you.
Author bio: Catherine Treme is freelance writer and blogger at My Work Money Life, LLC. A Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology/Business Administration as well as her previous career path in Human Resources has honed her skills for the dedication of her professional life to helping others create a better version of them! The subject matters include (but not limited to) managing finances, relationships, career path or maximizing your strengths via your personality type.
What have you learned about your personality? Do you think your personality impacts your financial situation?