“I like money, I have a little; I keep it in a jar under my bed. I’d like to put more money in that jar – that’s where you come in.”
The Wedding Singer
For a long time, that almost entirely described my personal approach to finances: I loved to have money, to spend money, to share money, but I did not want to focus a great deal of time talking about it. Every time the spreadsheet came out to examine what was coming in and what was going out, it felt like nails on the chalkboard of my brain.
For some reason, and for a long time, I carried shame with me association to money. I started working when I was 12, often worked two jobs during my high school days, and worked full time while at university, before starting my first career in education. So earning and keeping track of my own money was never an issue – I actually had a pretty awesome disposable income, even after paying for most of my teenage expenditures and the bulk of my education – and graduated with zero debt. But man, I just hated keeping track of my money, and anything related to it. As if by paying attention to where it was coming from and where it was going would somehow mess something up for me.
This shame continued into adulthood, and got worse after my then partner and I made the collective decision that I would stay home with the children, and take a hiatus from paid work. And when I say worse, I mean WAY worse: being in a position of having a hell of a lot of responsibility and making a hell of a contribution to our family – and the world – WITHOUT any paid compensation did a number on me that I didn’t fully understand at the time; I only really understood its psychological effect after the marriage had ended, and suddenly my “worth” and “value” became a tiny little monthly number on page 6 of a legally binding contract, and the conversations got heated over what was or was not owed, to whom, and why.
Those feelings of shame, being undervalued, and the shame that came with the stark reality of being undervalued caused a dramatic turnaround in my life. Particularly when juxtaposed against the brave new world that necessitated creating and re-inventing a career outside of and in addition to being an engaged and loving parent. And I know that experience is not unique to me, but rather is relatable to so many women who experience a significant life transition, only to discover that things were not as they seemed, for better or for worse.
After some serious self-reflection and intensive self-love development, I knew that my feelings were old, outdated, ripple effects from a different time, a different context, and I took accountability for how I was going to change not only my mindset towards earning, having, enjoying money, but my relationship to what exactly I was going to do about it.
Financial literacy is a language you learn, but the problem is, many of us never learn it properly. Many of us openly don’t want to learn the language, and rather choose to hide behind our fears as to why it’s not for us, and why it’s ok for someone else to be responsible for our financial health. I know this, because I lived this. More importantly, I made the choice to live like this. Until I didn’t; until I chose to take control over learning a language that felt intimidating, unimportant, beyond my scope, inaccessible, and scary AF.
It’s a genuine moment of empowerment, realizing that you have more control, more knowledge, more say, and more presence in your money than you think you do. And a major contributor to that empowerment in my financial life has been working with Planswell to manage my investments. I was so happy to find a financial company with a social conscience, and a genuine (and fun) company culture, that made me feel like I was getting the education I didn’t know I needed, in a way that felt safe, accessible, and to my stunned surprise, enjoyable.
How did I get there? After attending one of their events and meeting so many awesome people on their team (with pizza, hoverboards, and a DJ booth), I used their online tool to complete my financial plan; this took about three minutes, and I blissfully didn’t even need to look up financial info from my files – it was such an easy way to start the analysis of my financial picture because I was able to do it in a way that met my needs and lifestyle. Then, after I got their full document on what I could be doing smarter, one of their PlanPro’s followed up with me to see if I was interested in using Planswell to manage those decisions, or to do so on my own. Honestly, I canceled that phone call three times just to see if I’d be met with a sales push (yep, totally a tweenage move, I know) – and they weren’t! In fact, with each point of contact and interaction my experience with team Planswell got more and more positive.
I asked a friend of mine – who is a banker – as well as a super financially conservative family member to look them up and weigh in with their opinion as back up; both signed off with two thumbs’ up to this being a cogent financial move on my part. So I made the decision: I switched my investments from a traditional bank, and even that process was smooth sailing. And when I referred friends and clients to do the same, their feedback came out the same: that the process was easy, caring, attentive, and totally accessible, creating an environment of feeling cared for and protected – versus my own experiences at the bank feeling like I was a percentage on someone’s bonus.
So why am I sharing this? Because you are more capable than you think you are. You are wealthier than you think you are. You are more capable of building and managing wealth than you think you are – but you have to make the decision to make the change. You have to take accountability and responsibility for your own life and financial health, and it’s you who has to start somewhere – even if it feels scary now.
Take this baby step, another one after that, and another one after that, and suddenly the place you’re in isn’t so scary anymore. It’s a place of confidence, abundance, gratitude, appreciation, pleasure, and joy. But you are the only one who can truly make it happen for you, and for your family. I promise you, you can do this.