Why Can't I Get A Handle On My Finances?

Turns out big financial systems are confusing on purpose.

When it came to money and my personal finances, I used to beat myself up, saying, “I should have known better.” I had fantastic grades in school, a bachelor’s and master’s degree. I was successful in my career. But I never really learned about money. Like, truly learned about it. Why did we need to learn the Periodic Table, but no one thought it was important to teach us about interest rates or the intricacies of how 401K’s function? It’s hard to imagine, considering how essential money is to survival.  

I used to have a fortune, then I lost it. So I’ve witnessed firsthand how financial institutions treat people with money, and those without it. When you’re a high net worth individual, everyone comes out of the woodwork to “help” you. They help you minimize your taxes, manage your cash and investments, pay your bills, write your will and plan for your future. They help you keep your money, because the more money you have, the more it needs managing, or so they want you to believe.

Those same people wanted nothing to do with me when I had debt and an average amount of money. In times of trouble when you need financial advice the most, everyone runs for the hills. There’s no one there to help you. You’re on your own, left to decipher complex phrases and jargon at a point when your stress and anxiety levels are soaring. 

Put simply, it’s not worth a financial institution’s time to educate people who aren’t wealthy. It’s not in their best interest to help you jumpstart your life and prosper. They only want you when you have money. Once you’ve already made it. 

When I didn’t—and sometimes when I did—have money, I constantly worried about money. I was anxious and fearful about my finances. It’s a legit fear, but the good news is I’m not alone; we all have money challenges. Rich or poor, male or female, money stress is an equal opportunity feeling.

When we live in a state of high financial alert, we siphon off our body's power. We have to figure out how to stop giving away our finite resources to money stress. We need the energy to stave off fear and move into a solution. How do we do this? By being vulnerable. By planning and creating security. Wishing  for financial security will not make it true. Trust me, I tried.  

So here’s what I’ve learned: Spend less money than you earn. Start saving as young as possible. Find a saving partner. Engage your family and friends to create emotional and practical support. Be brave and ask questions. Create balance. Keep talking and enjoy the power that comes from dropping the rope and saying, “I don’t know.” Pick partners who want you to succeed, not those who you think know more than you do. Surround yourself with people who are kind teachers, not lecturers.

Trust yourself, your gut, your supporters, and the facts. The more you share your money worries and successes, the faster they will lessen. 

We carry a lot of shame around not being able to grasp the adulting concept. Yet, we’re thrown into the world of building lives for ourselves and our family without an instruction manual, so how would we know? And worst of all, the people in the know can act like they have some superpower we were not born with. 

I call BS on that. – Heather Pulier