Money may not be just about the numbers. But at some point, you have to deal with them.
Sometimes fear, frustration, and despair prompt the “dealing” with; at other times the trigger is joy, hope, progress and expansion. Granted, the latter is always so much more fun. But in truth, both scenarios can cause you to want (or need) to get to know and understand what’s really going on with your numbers.
In fact, if you are reading this where you have some privacy, go online to review your banking, credit card, and investment statements. As you review your information…
- What’s going on with your body? Do you feel tense or relaxed? Did you notice a change in your breathing rhythm?
- Do you feel joy, dread, or something in between?
- Do you recognize any patterns? Do you like the patterns you see?
One of the reasons they call it personal finance is because the above are manifestations of the personal “meaning” you’re attaching to your information-in-the-form-of-numbers.
If you like what’s going on, you usually feel good; if you don’t like what’s going on, you tend to feel bad. (At the extreme ends of the spectrum, some people replace “feel” with “are” as in you “are” good/bad — and that isn’t too helpful. But I digress…)
There’s another way you can discover the meaning or the story your numbers have to tell.
A “Dear Numbers” Letter
Have you ever written a letter to your money? No, really, I’m serious…
If you wrote a letter that began, “Dear Numbers…” what would come next?
Yes, it is somewhat of an odd question. You might even think this an odd exercise. Heck, you might even think of me as quirky – if you don’t already 🙂 – when you learn that I’ve actually done this.
Yep, I wrote a letter to my numbers.
And yes, it was out of desperation.
I mean really…who ever writes a “Dear John-like” letter when things are going well, right? I was no exception; I was at my wits end, beating myself up for a choice gone wrong, mad about the financial impact, and frustrated that my numbers weren’t looking they way I wanted or needed.
So, I literally sat down and wrote, “Dear Numbers… “
After venting, I eventually got around to asking: What do you want from me? I’ve done x; I’m doing y; why are you taking so long to do what I want and need?”
Did things change immediately? No. But, it was a cathartic exercise. My reflection afterward helped me gain clarity about the choices I made, was making, and needed to make going forward. (And when things did begin to turn around, I must unabashedly admit that I got on my knees and gave thanks!)
My “Dear Numbers” letter was such a powerful exercise for me, that it is part of my repertoire for coaching clients who are stuck. And even if they aren’t stuck, I recommend it as a perfect exercise for couples when it comes to this whole love + money “thing.”
If you take me up on my invitation:
- to review your banking, credit card, and investment statements;
- do a body check-in (see above); and then
- sit down to write a letter to your numbers with the intent of getting feedback on what to start or stop doing – aka asking your numbers what do you need to do in order to do your part in creating the lifestyle of your desire
And then you ask your honey to do the same, you’re likely to be quite surprised by your respective answers and physical responses!
A tremendous amount of insight and compassion can come from doing this.
This is where the good, juicy stuff can happen in terms of turning money into a tool that strengthens your relationship.
Then came the numbers
As I said last week, money is emotional and you must delve into the “stuff” behind the money – aka what’s your money story.
But eventually you have to take a deep dive and focus on the numbers because they tell their own story. Your numbers give you clues (in the form of what you see via your statements) about your choices and the quality thereof.
Your “Dear Numbers” letter can go a long way to helping you get to know, understand and respect what’s going on with your numbers…and your life!
But don’t do as I did or as most people do, which is to wait until things are financially challenging (which is when people tend to pay more attention). I’d recommend you also invest the time to write this letter when things are going well and you are financially flush (which is an opportunity people often overlook).
When you and your mate:
- write your “Dear Numbers” letters separately;
- then come together to share and compare notes; and then
- use your discoveries to strategize…
Hot damn! moments can happen more easily. You open the door for the love + money “thing” to connect in a different, often magical, way 🙂
Try it, and let me know how it goes either in the comments section or privately via a direct email or message.
This is a continuation of my series of posts for couples regarding love + money. If you’re willing, I’d so appreciate if you would share this post with people who matter to you. Many, many thanks!
p.s. if you are in a relationship and don’t always feel like you’re winning at this love + money “thing,” join me on May 2nd for a free webinar: Money, A Menage a Trois – click here for details and to register.
p.p.s click here to anonymously share your biggest challenge when it comes to love + money.