Overcoming Financial Allergies & Getting Comfortable with the Numbers

Guest writer: Carolynn Duncan, TenX.org

Are you allergic to anything? For me, fresh pineapple causes an immediate physical reaction, with a mild rash, even though I love pineapple and take every opportunity to eat it. I’m thankful that my reaction is only mild, because I realize that others have more serious allergic reactions, causing severe hives, swelling, closing of the airway, and even death if untreated!

I find that in business, some of us have an “allergic reaction” to financial matters – mild, moderate, or severe – whether that’s sales, cashflow, accounting, taking financial risk, reeling in spending, having and maintaining a budget, or other aspects of maintaining a financially healthy company. Why is this?

Well, maybe like allergies, it’s a bit hereditary. Our initial environment – the family or home we grew up in, the culture we were raised in – can heavily influence how we relate to money, and then we carry these concepts with us into managing our own finances personally, and how we make financial choices for the business. We can check in our relationship to money, because although we can’t help our physical allergies, as they are an automatic response beyond our control, our relationship to money is flexible – it can change, and we can alter it to be more beneficial and healthy for us in our present lives.

That can be hard to do, if our allergies include a sense of deep anxiety and fear about money. One natural response to feeling anxious or fearful about finances is to avoid it. If I see an angry bear I’m unlikely to consider a direct approach as the most viable. I’m going to run, I’m going to hide behind a protective barrier, I’m going to flee the scene and leave that bear where it is. That’s a great reaction to being around an angry bear. But as a habit for managing finances it will leave you feeling stuck, helpless, and left with increasing anxiety. It also perpetuates and escalates whatever financial challenges are needing attention, and won’t resolve anything.

So what can we do? We can’t avoid money unfortunately, and we can’t want to stay in the anxious / stuck place forever. What other options do we have?

In this case, unlike with a physical allergy, financial allergies are best treated with exposure therapy. The more frequently and the more consistently we decide to 1) face the finances directly and 2) look at the numbers and see exactly what they are, the more our financial allergies will begin to improve, and we can become healthier than we were previously. That’s a great thing!

Here are some suggestions that can help you overcome financial allergies and get on track for a financially healthy & vibrant future:

  1. Get your free credit score at a tool like FreeCreditScore.com, or through your credit card company. Take a stroll through your financial past and decide what you’d like your future to be.
  2. Look at your bank accounts regularly, a couple times a week is a good place to start. Daily or hourly checking is excessive and likely contributing to higher levels of anxiety, so don’t go there.
  3. Look at the sales pipeline for your company – what accounts are “in the works”, and who can you call on to close a deal or two?
  4. Take yourself, your significant other, or your business partner on a “money date”. Grab lunch and look at the #’s and talk through solutions
  5. Download reports from your accounting software, and review them once a month to look at trends, totals, and where you can make improvements
  6. Grab a copy of Secrets of Six Figure Women, and take the self assessment. Which habits & beliefs of high earners do you have? Which habits & beliefs of under-earners do you have? Commit to improve 1 habit over the next month.
  7. When you feel yourself having a negative response to a financial situation, sit with it before going into “avoid” or “anxious” mode. Take a few minutes to connect with how you’re feeling, then go into solution mode or ask a peer, adviser, or partner for help tackling the situation.

Financial skills are a lot like going to the gym. It’s nice to have a gym pass, but if you’re not working out from time to time, those muscles aren’t going to build themselves.  Overcoming financial allergies is extremely possible and it feels GREAT to challenge yourself to become healthier. No matter where things have been, you can improve your financial skills and get comfortable as a skilled financial manager for your company and your personal finances. Pick one of the options listed above, and get started today – your future self will appreciate your every effort!

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