“This is my year” Mary declared. “I will take control of my life and my money.”
After a long, ugly divorce, Mary was ready to attack the stack of financial papers that represented her sadness, confusion, fear and anger about money.
“That’s wonderful, Mary. I’m here to help. Tell me what is most important for you right now.”
Without missing a beat, Mary began, “the first thing on my list is to gain a better understanding of my situation. I need to feel better connected to money—to know what my resources are and how they impact my life on a daily basis. Can we do that?”
“Of course we can. Why don’t we start with what’s most important to you and what will allow you to feel comfortable with your money?”
“As you might imagine, I have been spending a good deal of time trying to understand that for myself after my divorce. The answer is simple I guess. I want to stop worrying about money and for once in my life make decisions that impact my well-being. I grew up in a family where no one talked about money, other than the occasional griping about the cost of everything. My mother was given an allowance to run the house and my father handled everything else but it was never talked about and maybe that’s why I feel so uncomfortable around money today.”
Mary’s story is all too common. She went from growing up in a household where no one spoke about money to a marriage where her husband kept everything hidden.
But now, she was ready to stop hiding.
We started with the basics: reconciling her checking account, paying bills online, assembling information for her tax preparer, checking her credit score and reviewing each bill in minute detail. Mary steadily gained experience and confidence in her ability to manage her affairs.
Fast-forward one year and Mary is once again sitting in my conference room. But what a different woman sat in front of me.
“Michael, I have reviewed the agenda for today’s meeting and would like to add one item regarding refinancing the mortgage on my condo. I have been watching the rates and think this might be a good time to move, only this time, I think 15 years is more appropriate to my goals.”
A year ago she was in debt, with no idea how to handle her money and here she was now, in control of her finances and talking re-fi like a pro. Her turning point? The decision to bring her finances out of hiding and master her fear.
Each step after that built her courage and, ultimately, her assets. Mary became confident and self-assured in creating the new life she envisioned for herself.
It all began with a simple choice: to no longer live in fear.
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