You look at your 401(k) statement every quarter and you get your taxes done yearly. Maybe you even signed up to buy some life insurance through your job. That seems like enough money decisions, or at least as much as you want to wrap your head around.
Chances are you—like many people—are a money avoider.
Avoiders earn their titles through experience. Perhaps you grew up without financial awareness, so anything even remotely smelling of money becomes unbearably large and unmanageable. After all, if you don’t know something, your mind is free to allow your imagination to conjure up a problem of T-Rex proportion. Everyone knows you don’t mess with a T-Rex, so running and hiding MUST be better.
Sometimes, life intervenes. It’s busy, crowded with stuff that creates overwhelming pressure. Work, family, social obligations eat up your time, let alone setting aside some space for fun or exercise. There’s just no time to sit and focus on your finances. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I know there’s a football game on, but I’d rather analyze my spending patterns”? Exactly.
Luckily, there’s help for the avoider. If you would rather knit booties for frogs than tend to financial matters, these tips are for you.
1. Create a list of things that feel important. On your list, record why it matters to you. For example, if you have children—what is most important if you’re suddenly not there? What if you suddenly fall ill and can no longer work?
2. Contact NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) and find a fee-only planner to help guide you.
3. Pick ONE (and only one) item at a time and put it on your calendar. Think of it like an appointment with your doctor—you may not WANT to go, but you need to be there. Each item needs some of your time and focus to fully evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
4. While there’s a lot information available online, make sure you understand the source before putting too much stock in it. If you are looking for life insurance or investment options, make sure you are not getting just one company’s point of view.
5. Keep in mind that each item that you resolve—however small—is a step in the right direction. Maintain an “eating the elephant” mindset. You can’t do it in one swallow, but a lot of small bites will do the trick.
6. Reward yourself for each success. No one’s saying you should go shopping at Tiffany’s because you bought renter’s Insurance or balanced your checkbook, but small rewards go a long way to fuel your progress.
7. If you have a family, make it a group discussion and look for opportunities to bring everyone together to help. Whether it’s looking for coupons online or obtaining doing basic research, take advantage of others’ willingness to help wherever possible.
There’s great benefit from accomplishing something you’ve been avoiding, as any successful coach will tell you. The best part? Each step forward that you take fuels the next one. You’ve got this.