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The quest for fiscal responsibility and freedom

Posted By on April 23, 2010

Jerry: Your back hurts because of your wallet. It’s huge.
George: This isn’t just my wallet. It’s an organizer, a memory, and an old friend.
Jerry: Well, your friend is morbidly obese.
~ from Seinfeld, “The Wallet”

If you grew up with Seinfeld, like I did (okay, I was in my 20s, but you get the idea), you may remember George’s gigantic wallet he could barely close. Granted, his leather back-pocket protruder wasn’t bulging with cash, but it’s a nice idea. Who among us doesn’t want to be able to awe and impress family and friends by pulling out a $50 or $100 bill to pay for dinner? Well, as an entrepreneur, your wallet can switch from paper-thin to overflowing in a blink. But what if wealth has little to do with the amount of cash you’re carrying?

Wednesday I attended the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) annual conference, which was chock-full of impressive and inspiring presentations. One in particular was about building a positive relationship with money and overcoming a feeling of lack and scarcity. Although the focus was a bit more spiritual than I would have preferred, the principles were sound. Karen Russo, the presenter, shared a number of money traps and the universal laws that counteract them.

The Trap of Survival
Who among us hasn’t had a day, week, month, or year when we’ve struggled to keep our heads above water? Especially in this economy, it seems a number of people are just “getting by,” hoping to have another client fall in their laps before that next bill is due. It’s a hard place to be – and perhaps harder to overcome – when the bottom seems endless. Russo suggests that the law of money flow and connection is the counterbalance to this trap. Money comes in. Money goes out. It can’t be changed. If you can be okay with it, you’ll find yourself releasing some of that pent-up anxiety. One way to do that, according to Russo, is to schedule time to pay those bills and be okay with the flow of money. She calls her time “Money Mondays.”

The Trap of Blame
If you have a lover or ex-partner who “done you wrong,” you know all about blaming. He walked out on you with all the bills and three mouths to feed. It’s the stuff of bad country songs. But flip this trap on its side and you may be blaming yourself. Perhaps you’re still reeling from that pyramid scheme or buying into the latest gimmick from a door-to-door salesman. Regardless, you need to let go of the blame. Forgive the people in your life who have put you in your financial predicament and get comfortable with the fact that you’re in charge of your bank account.

The Trap of Scarcity
This one kind of partners with survival in that, if you are just getting by, you may see things as never getting better. Again, in an economic recession, it can be challenging to see the silver lining. One way to do so, says Russo, is to seek the source behind the good you do have. Be grateful for the things you receive, but go one farther and look at how those good things are coming to you. If you believe in higher powers, that’s a good place to start. If you’re like me, think about your values and those areas of your life that drive you to succeed.

After hearing all of these traps, I had to sit with the information for a day, but what I realized is that I have been cheating myself in my finances. Like many entrepreneurs, sometimes it seems like the sky is pouring down $1 bills, while other times I can’t squeeze a penny out of the faucet. I had to find a way to be okay with that, to not be fearful, and to know that if I move forward doing the right things, wealth will come.

Here’s my realization: I was blaming my ex-husband for leaving me and taking with him his 2/3 of our combined income. I was acting as the victim (“I don’t have any money, Ex; I can’t do that.”) with the underlying psychological thought that he would want to come back and rescue me (okay, it’s deep, but it’s true). I wasn’t taking ownership of my financial situation and embracing the money I have, don’t have, and will get soon.

Monday I will start allocating time to focus on my finances – without guilt or fear. I also started journaling more about money: that I’m comfortable with my finances and I welcome – and am thankful for – the money I receive. I made a list of the people to whom I owe money, writing at the top, “The money I return graciously and with thanks.” Even if I pay $10 a week to the kind souls who helped me in the past, at least I’m paying – and I’m okay with the flow.

So, unfortunately, I didn’t inherit $1 million this week, and my client list is the same as it was last week, but I discovered that I don’t need to be a Rockefeller to be financially free. It may just come down to feeling comfortable knowing that money comes and goes, and my share is available to me if I am open to receiving it.