One of the biggest human emotions that gets in our way of being able to make more money is financial overwhelm. It’s the summer holidays here right now, and last week I decided that I would clear out my boys bedrooms. It was a rainy morning and the kids were a little bit restless, and I know that every time I go into their rooms and have a good old clear out I always end up pulling out some amazing new toy for them to play with; not a new toy but just one that they’ve completely forgotten about and has been gathering dust somewhere in the back of a cupboard or underneath their beds. I’m sure those of you that have children can completely resonate with this!
I realised while I was doing this that I was actually kind of just moving the clutter around from one place in the room to another and it got me thinking of money and de-cluttering our finances. How often do we just move money from one place to the next without really actually improving our financial position at all? Often the emotion of overwhelm really kicks in when we see the the paperwork mounting on the kitchen worktops, so we move it into a pile in the office. Then we might be looking for a particular document, so we go into the office and we think I really need to sort this pile out. But just the thought of tackling this now ever-growing mountain of paperwork is so overwhelming that we just dismiss it and tell ourselves that there’s something more important today.
Tip 1 – Recognise Financial Overwhelm is Just a Feeling
So what could you do to stop feeling so overwhelmed about money? My first tip is recognise that it is just a feeling. Overwhelm is just a feeling; nobody’s actually going to die if you don’t do the thing you are overwhelmed about. No one’s going to die if you don’t sort out that financial paperwork. Understand that internal emotion is what’s creating the outer emotion, so you may be feeling it in terms of physically sweating, headaches, and shouting. Or you may be feeling a little bit down, beating yourself up, and feeling that inner critic coming out. The first thing is to pause and just notice that feeling. Notice the fact that gosh I’m actually feeling really overwhelmed about sorting out this paperwork, or feeling particularly overwhelmed about renewing that car insurance, or looking at your pension statements, or starting an investment plan. Just pause and notice that feeling.
Tip 2 – Dump it
Dump it all out of your brain. Grab some paper and a pen and a couple of highlighters. I want you to grab a piece of paper and a pen and right now what I want you to do is to write down everything that is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Now look at your list and highlight in four different colours these four areas; SH0E.
S – Someone else.
Try this for the next few days before you do anything on your list. Ask yourself; “Am I the only person who can do this?” Can this be delegated out to somebody, or can it be discussed with somebody else so that you don’t feel quite so overwhelmed? Perhaps there’s a letter you’ve received about your pensions and you know that by discussing it with your money coach or your financial adviser that this can be crossed off your list. Maybe you could talk about it with your partner, or maybe you’ve got a business buddy and you’re feeling really over overwhelmed about launching a new program or going to attract new clients. Just talking that through with somebody can really help you to manage that emotion of overwhelm.
H – Happen later.
This is something that can stay on the list but it’s okay for it to wait. This can be particularly hard when you’re a perfectionist like me – I’m a real finisher as well so if I have something on my list I feel really bad if it’s still on my list the following day. So I feel overwhelmed loads; I really have to focus on literally just brain dumping everything out, then prioritising, then asking can somebody else do this? Can I delegate it, or can it happen later? And that’s really useful because it just gets it out onto paper.
I use an app called Evernote and I put everything on there. If I have an idea about something it goes straight into Evernote. If I have an idea about a blog I want to write, or a podcast to record, it goes into Evernote. It’s my little space – my little home if you like – for all the notes and all the creative stuff that’s going on in my mind. I’ve got somewhere to place that. So grab your highlighter pen and strike a colour through something you’ve put on your list that could happen later. It’s okay for it to wait.
O – Ditch ONE.
This is something that is outside of your control; in other words it needs to come off your list because maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed about something that isn’t in your control. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t go on to the list, because obviously if it’s creating that emotion for you and you want to get rid of it you need to brain dump it out.
An exercise that I do every single week is to journal, which is kind of what we’re doing here, but like a mini version of that. If there’s something on your list that is outside of your control, then journal around that for 5 or 10 minutes. Get all the emotion, all the frustrations, all the pain, and all those emotions out into your journal and just leave it there. Park it there. You’ll be surprised the power of just getting out onto paper, or having a conversation with a friend about it. These things can really help with that feeling of overwhelm.
E – Emergency.
This is the stuff that you want to deal with right away. Maybe the car needs booking in for a service because otherwise you’re not going to be able to tax it. Maybe the car insurance that’s coming up for renewal, or maybe it’s coming up to the end of the end of your accounting year and you’ve got to get all your paperwork in order. Maybe it’s just to get yourself a bookkeeper. What is it that absolutely 100% has to be done today? What’s on your absolutely has to be done urgent list?
Tip 3 – Make a Money Date
Put a money date in your diary. I’d highly recommend that you do this at least once a week. Just 30 minutes to then take charge of getting rid of that financial overwhelm emotion. Looking at your list and taking off those things that don’t need to happen right now, passing over and delegating or giving the responsibility to someone that can help you. And doing what absolutely 100% has to be done right now. It could be 30 minutes to switch your bank account; something that you’ve been meaning to do for the last six months. Maybe it’s looking at tracking your spending for the week, looking at renewing your insurances, logging your business miles, or having a conversation with your partner about money.
Creating yourself time and headspace will really help you to get tasks done, get them off that list, and really help you to start to feel less overwhelmed. Remember, done is better than perfect. Trying to get things perfect will stop you from progressing with anything. Your perfectionism doesn’t give you any time or space to grow, only time and space to procrastinate. If you think about it, the most likely reason that you’re delaying getting started and feeling financial overwhelm is the emotion of fear; fear of being judged, fear of getting it wrong, fear of not making the best decision.
When you’re fearful it’s because you don’t understand something. Fear is quite an interesting concept. We talk about fear not being the best; for example you’re fearful of not making the best decision. But in reality there’s never a best decision, there’s only a decision. Far better to make a decision and get it wrong and then learn from that than to not make any decision at all. So if it’s because you don’t have the time (which let’s face it is a big one for most of us) then go and create the time. Have you ever found yourself saying “I just don’t have time to do this.” I don’t have time to go to the shops, I don’t have time to sort out switching my bank, I don’t have time to do this. It’s not because you don’t have the time, it’s because you haven’t created the time. So make that your priority.
Tip 4 – Tell Yourself You CAN Beat Financial Overwhelm
Stop telling yourself that you can’t and start telling yourself that you can. The power of the mind is incredible. Be careful not to label yourself. If you hear yourself saying “I’m not good with money” then guess what? You won’t be good with money! If you tell yourself this then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think therefore I am. It’s about focusing on increasing your knowledge and confidence in the area that you don’t feel good enough in.
We have a saying in our house that there’s no such word as can’t. So every time my boys say oh I can’t do this, automatically me and my husband say there’s no such word as can’t. Because it is about choice and confidence and learning. If my boys say I can’t multiply 25 by 500 it’s not because they can’t it’s because they don’t know how yet. It’s about having the confidence to actually find out the answer, to go out and learn. When we learn as children, we build our confidence,and it’s the same as adults.
Four months ago I didn’t know how to create a membership website, or have the confidence to stream my podcasts live on to Facebook. So I just went into overwhelm. I put it off, I listened to my inner critic, and I didn’t do it. But then I really mapped out and asked myself who do I need to help me with this? I spoke to a membership website expert, I joined The Membership Guys membership, I asked my website VA to help, and I looked at who else was running memberships and spoke to them. I broke it down into manageable tasks, and you can do exactly the same.
So the next time that you find yourself saying you can’t, tell yourself that you can.
Tip 5 – Make More Money with Strong Foundations
Focus on building strong foundations. One of the most common questions I get asked is how to get started with investing, but more often than not when I actually speak to the person asking the question they don’t have strong foundations. Creating strong foundations is a little bit like sailing a boat; you need to have a strong boat sailing in the right direction and with an end destination in mind. Make sure that you’ve plugged all those leaks and you’ve put your life jacket on. In other words, you’ve built an emergency fund and you know where you’re heading.
So many people that I speak to feel like they should have investments, but they don’t really know what they’re investing for and therefore it’s very difficult to make a decision about where to invest or how to invest. Do I invest with an ISA or do I invest via pension? Unless you know where you’re heading it makes those kind of questions really difficult to to answer, so it’s about building those strong foundations in the first place.
If you don’t have an emergency fund in place
One of the other questions that comes in a lot is about paying off debt versus building an emergency fund. People often think they should pay down all of their debts before they start to build an emergency fund. But, if you don’t focus on building that emergency fund something’s likely to come up and rock your boat. It could be the washing machine breaks down, or the car needs new brake pads and they’re gonna cost you £200. It’s things like that that can really rock your boat, and if you haven’t got a back-up plan it can be really stressful. Often what happens is if you don’t have the funds it goes on the credit card and then you get into this this overspend and debt cycle.
So it is really important before you start investing, before you start to do anything, to focus on building strong foundations. Part of having strong foundations isn’t just about the practical elements, it’s also about building strong foundations in your mind. Getting strong foundations in how you feel about money and what are you telling yourself about money. Going back to tip 4; if you’re telling yourself you’re not good with money then you won’t be good with money.
Maybe your focus could be about changing your negative language and practice using some positive affirmations. “I am good with money”. Write a list of things that you’re really good at and actually focus on building some foundations in your mind as well as the practical elements of building strong money foundations.
So if you’re in overwhelm over money, stop and think about what direction you are sailing in. Do you have money leaks that need plugging? Do you have an emergency pot that you can access in the event that you hit a rock? Who do you need in your boat to help steer the way to help you avoid those nasty surprises? Focus on what matters the most and remember if you feel overwhelmed, you can come back to this post, or listen to the podcast to remind you of the small steps that you can take to remove that financial overwhelm and create some clarity.
Make More Money – Plug Your Leaks
Next week we’re opening up the waiting list to our infamous Plug Your Money Leaks five day free challenge and you can click here to jump on the waiting list. It’s a really fun and incredibly insightful challenge. Some of the testimonials we got from those who completed the challenge in June/July when we ran it previously were literally life-changing. One particular lady that emailed me to say that for the first time in thirty four years she was able to have a conversation with her partner about money, and she was I able to identify what kind of relationship she had with money, where her money leaks were, and two months later she’s now actually saving money rather than living in her overdraft. The challenge starts in the first week of September and you can join here.
FREE 5 Day Plug Your Money Leaks Challenge
Book in a complimentary call to discuss how financial coaching can help you move from financial overwhelm to confidence and control.
You Are a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero
I’m Worth More – Rob Moore
Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill