“Why am I so bad with money?” If you’ve had this thought, you are not alone. We are not born knowing how to manage money, yet we feel shame in not knowing what to do to improve our situation. Often this shame will lead to overspending to keep up with the Joneses. This is a reality that many people face when it comes to their finances, and it can lead to detrimental effects from overextending themselves.
Many traditional financial personalities’ advice relies on shaming you. “How could you allow yourself to get into this much debt?” The message is often “if you are struggling you only have yourself to blame.” We’ve heard it, again and again, look at these millennials overspending on $5 lattes and avocado toast. Nowadays there are articles everywhere complaining “Millennials are killing countless industries”. When really the reality of the financial landscape has changed drastically since our parents were young. To put these changes into perspective, the following chart outlines the differences in cost that adults in the 70s experienced compared to adults in the 2010s. And yes, you can tell your Uncle Joe these numbers are already adjusted for inflation.
Shame doesn’t work… shame often leads to internalizing money mistakes, then denying or hiding our decisions. This shame stops us from sitting down and taking a deep dive into our finances. Our guilt takes over for not knowing any better or “allowing this to happen”. Now we’ve created analysis paralysis. Turn off all of the noise (Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey).
While shame is powerful, you can begin to heal your relationship with money with a few small steps.
Shame can also come from reading advice tips about how much money you “should” have saved by your age. Why you are still renting vs buying and how you are “wasting” money. We take these messages and internalize them. “I am bad with money.” This perception often keeps us frozen with indecision and keeps us from making meaningful money decisions to create positive progress financially.
We’ve been taught that talking about money isn’t polite. There is an unwritten social code built on silence and secrecy shrouding us before we even get off the ground. Then there is the judgment about money from all directions, how we spend our money, and on what.
When we don’t discuss money people are often taken advantage of. Particularly those in marginalized positions.
Part 2 will touch on: upbringing, shame factors, and behavior.