January always represents an interesting dynamic financially. It’s a fresh start for most of us.
With respect to our business books, we get to start from zero. And for some of you, that is an opportunity that you welcome. For others maybe not.
If we’ve ever met in person and got to chatting about true business and not just the real estate aspect of things, you’ve likely heard me say that I am passionate about the financial aspects of business.
I am passionate about helping those around me build wealth and have a deeper understanding of money in general. I believe that in our industry, we don’t talk about those parts of money enough.
We talk about units and volume. We talk about GCI and splits. We talk about top-line revenue. But we don’t talk about the nitty gritty of money.
Normalizing real talk about money
I know that it is a bit of a taboo topic, and in some situations, I can appreciate that. But I do believe we need to normalize these conversations between ourselves in some ways.
As a business owner and an individual, I’ve embarked on a fascinating journey, understanding and managing my own relationship with money. This journey has been instrumental not only in my personal life, but also in shaping the approach to finances in my business.
Growing up, we never talked about money. We also didn’t have a ton of money, being raised by a single mom who was often working three jobs just to make ends meet.
There was never extra money. There was no savings account or safety net. When the monthly bills hit our mailbox each month, my mother was tense. It was palpable. My sister and I just knew that when our mother was paying bills, we didn’t speak to her or ask for anything.
Growing up with financial illiteracy
Because money was tight growing up, I never learned how to save or invest—after all, there was nothing to save or invest.
Fast forward to my time in college. With solicitations from credit card companies andeasy access to a sum of money I had never seen before, I instantly made some big mistakes—mistakes that took me years to correct.
Those same mistakes further deepened my fear of money. I went from watching my mom being stressed every time the monthly bills came to feeling stressed myself when the monthly bills came. Once married, I quickly delegated all financial responsibilities to my husband, thankful to never have to look at any of it.
Jump ahead to my first few years of running the business, and I was still totally and completely overwhelmed by all things financial.
I’m ashamed to admit there was even a period of time when I had no idea how much money I was making, how much I was spending, or how deeply negative I was running. The mere thought of money overwhelmed me. It was easier to ignore the whole thing.
I had a complicated relationship with money and finances. And that relationship had consequences.
In 2017, I lost about half a million dollars with some financial mistakes in the company. Fortunately for me, I had an amazing coach by my side who cared enough to ask the right questions and who pushed me to open up about what was going on.
Thankfully, I trusted him enough to open up and accept his help in fixing it.
Full disclosure, if I hadn’t gotten that help, I’m not sure I would have the business I have today—or any business at all for that matter.
There are some interesting statistics about how an entrepreneur’s relationship with money can almost always determine whether their business venture will succeed. And the more I get involved with the agents in and out of my company, I can see that these stats are true.
Questions to ask yourself
Personal finances is one of the tougher areas for me to navigate with my team. But when I hear about notices of unpaid taxes or have tearful conversations because someone can’t pay rent this month or has no money for holiday gifts, I know that I have some level of responsibility to help them come to terms with this complicated relationship.
So, I would like to challenge you to think about your own personal relationship with money, both in your personal life and in your business life. Often they’re connected, but not always.
- How do you feel about money?
- What emotions come up for you when the topic of money comes up?
- Do you have a pattern of recurring thoughts that arise when you interact with money?
Feelings vary from person to person, but a sense of powerlessness over money is a strong clue that you have an unhealthy relationship with it.
You feel avoidant or grossed out by money when your relationship with it makes you feel out of control, anxious, ashamed, or otherwise inclined to avoid the subject.
What it really takes to change your relationship with money
One of the most common mistakes I see people make when working on their relationship with money is thinking that a habit will fix their relationship.
For example, “If I only stuck to my budget, then I’d feel good about money.” Or “If I earned more money, I wouldn’t avoid my money.”
I actually had these thoughts when I was earning seven figure incomes. Yet at the time, I was still terrified of looking at financial statements. Because I was completely missing the point.
It’s not about how disciplined you are with your spending or how carefully you stick to your budget. How you feel about money affects every aspect of your life.
Even when you never talk about it. Especially when you never talk about it.
This is why I want to drive this point home: It is absolutely critical to work on your relationship with money to make positive changes stick.
It’s hard to stick to a budget when thinking about a budget makes you feel constricted and stuck.
So, what will it take to change that?
The Path Forward
First, acknowledge your earliest roots with money.
- What were those first experiences?
- What was it like growing up in your household?
- What was the tone or energy around money?
Second, forgive yourself for past mistakes. Driving for perfection and holding onto past money mistakes, real or perceived, is bound to make you experience what we call money shame.
Third, understand your own money. Some folks call this financial literacy. While everyone’s personal finance situation differs, there are three constants—or pillars—of financial literacy.
The fourth step is to examine your financial anxiety and list out current financial behaviors or thoughts that impede you.
You are the expert on what you want your relationship with money to look like, and everyone’s will be different.
Finally, plan for mistakes and setbacks as you create a healthy relationship with money. Mistakes will happen. Allow yourself grace as you navigate those.
I hope everyone reading this can commit to engaging in some healthy conversations around money and start to normalize open and honest dialogues on this subject.