In the United States, there’s a fundamental lack of financial education, especially when people are still in school. Most people end up learning about money (or not learning anything at all) from their parents, for better or worse. So, it’s no shock that so many Americans struggle with financial literacy. We aren’t born with an inherent understanding of how money works! We have to learn it, either through formal education or by teaching ourselves.
Even so, a lot of us struggle with feeling confident about our own financial abilities. And why wouldn’t we? But the truth is, you can turn things around. Just because you’ve struggled with your finances or made money mistakes in the past, doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. Here are some steps you can take to start trusting yourself with your money:
Write Out Your Financial Accomplishments
It’s almost guaranteed that you have succeeded with your money at least once or twice. But it’s easy to forget your successes when your failures loom so much larger. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem. A great way to do this regularly is to make a list of all of your accomplishments at the end of each year. And it doesn’t have to be only financial accomplishments, but anything that you are proud of and excited about. This can be a much more fun and motivating activity than setting New Years resolutions.
Identify Ways You’ve Improved
Once you’ve written out all of your accomplishments, think about all the ways that you’ve actually improved over the course of your life. Even if it’s not related to money, there’s almost certainly an area of your life that has improved over time. Perhaps you started therapy to help you deal with difficult emotions. Maybe you’ve started surrounding yourself with people who lift you up rather than those who tear you down. Whatever it may be, it’s so important to recognize when we’ve made changes that improve our lives. Not only does it give you the opportunity to be proud of yourself (which you should be!), but it shows you that you’re capable of applying this to other areas of your life… like your finances.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins With Yourself
It’s hard to recognize our small, steady accomplishments when we don’t take the time to celebrate them. It’s also difficult to even notice when we’re improving if we don’t keep track of our progress before we reach our bigger goals. Contrary to popular belief, our small wins and incremental progress are just as important as reaching our big, exciting goals! You can’t go from zero to a hundred immediately. There are many steps in between. That’s why it’s so important to check in with yourself regularly to make sure that you are actually staying on track and to celebrate yourself when you are. Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins with yourself to see how you’re doing and course correct, if necessary.
Continue to Educate Yourself
Tracking your accomplishments and checking in with yourself is important but it’s not going to give you the financial literacy that you need to actually improve your finances. That’s where financial education comes in. There are so many books, blogs, and podcasts out there that will help you dip your toe in the world of financial literacy. If you need more personalized support, there are many financial coaches and financial advisors who can help you. Just make sure you’re only listening to the people who know what they’re talking about and whose message and approach resonates with you and your values and circumstances.
Forgive Yourself When You Screw Up
We all make mistakes. We are human. You’ll continue to screw up as life goes on, because you’ll always be human. That’s why it’s so important to forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes. The more you beat yourself up, the more difficult it will be for you to move forward. And that’s because shame paralyzes you instead of motivating you. It continues to make you feel like you aren’t capable of making any positive changes in your life. So, let yourself get frustrated for a beat and then forgive yourself. Remember to take the lesson from the mistake and make different decisions in the future. It’s the only way to learn and improve!