We’re just not that financially healthy as a Country.
57% of us Americans are struggling financially.
Many of us are struggling with debt or poor savings, and living paycheck to paycheck.
What if I told you there’s a way out for us all?
I had a beer with a new friend yesterday. He asked me for my best piece of financial advice.
I gave him my usual spiel about automatic savings, etc, etc (I’m a sucker for this tactical stuff). But then I offered up something new…
I told him to start talking more about his financial life with his spouse, children, and close friends.
One of the things that’s been sticking with me over the past several months is this idea that although it’s one of our last taboos, when we talk about money, and share our experiences (good or bad), it creates real change in us and in others.
There’s power in the story.
Conversations About Money Can Educate and Change Your Perception of Success
I was changed back in 2003-2004 because of guys like Luke Landes. Luke, or Flexo as he was know back then, was sharing his financial journey at ConsumerismCommentary.com. His words and his story challenged everything I thought I knew about finances.
His story and others like it, opened my eyes up to a world where people were defining financial success differently. It was no longer about getting by, or doing my best. It became about kicking ass and taking names with my finances. Dominating (in the positive sense, of course)!
We’re taught that talking about money is rude (and in a certain way and with certain company it is). But it doesn’t have to be…if approached practically, with tact and humility.
No doubt this is one of the things that makes our community of financial story-tellers so great. We are constantly challenging each other in a person way with the stories of our experiences and experiments.
Financial Health Means Being Able to Share Your Story
I think being financially healthy means being able to have a conversation about money. Not in a boastful way. But in a confident, assured way. A way that says, “you know what, I’m not perfect yet, but I know where I need to go and I know I’m going to get there.” Folks that are financially healthy aren’t afraid of the subject of money.
Where are you? Are you afraid?
A conversation can start with an admission. You don’t have to be perfect. You can talk about financial mistakes you’ve made or are currently making. You can share your goals and dreams (this is a great place to start, actually). You can share your tips or ideas you have. It all matters, and it all leads to positive personal and community growth.
If I could add a second layer here, I think “superior” financial health comes when we’re willing to humble ourselves and seek out conversations where we’ll be challenged again and again. It’s really a never ending process, this financial life.
Are you having those conversations? If not, why?
The Conversations Not Being Had – The Untold Stories
This past month I had the chance to attend CFSI’s FinX workshop in New Orleans. At FinX, you, along with some other team members, spend two hours living as if you are a financial outsider of sorts.
In this pretend scenario, you don’t have a regular checking account or easy access to traditional financial services. You have limited time (because of your multiple jobs and other responsibilities) and resources and you must complete a variety of financial transactions that would take you and I minutes from the comfort of our corporate office chair and cost us very little.
The experience is designed to not only create financial empathy, but help spur financial innovation among industry professionals. My team members were from credit unions, industry groups, and the FDIC. Shout out to team Saints!
As you can imagine, the experience was frustrating, harried, and riddled with high fees at every turn.
As a financial blogger, one of my biggest takeaways from the experience is how the story of the people I saw in line at these convenience stores, “financial centers”, and grocery stores isn’t being told…at least in the spheres I reside in.
How will someone in their position ever relate to a conversation about taxable investing or early retirement? They aren’t able to get to the basic financial starting line.
I don’t have a concrete solution here, but the answer, I believe, isn’t in pitying these “unbanked”. The answer is in the challenge. Let’s hear more from the people who’ve made it to that starting line and gone on to have further success.
A quick Google search for “i paid off my payday loan”, “my first checking account”, and “how I escaped poverty” led to very few personal success stories. There should be more. If they aren’t being self-submitted, then we financial writers should seek out these stories and bring them to light.
This article was part of CFSI’s #FinHealthMatters initiative. See what others are sharing about financial health.
Are you a blogger? There’s still time to post your thoughts. Share an article today, June 29th, and you could be entered to win your way to #FinCon16. Contest details here.