Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Fear & Shame are words that describe my feelings about money.
So what kind of relationship do I have with money?
The single word answer would be "bad." I avoid looking at my bank account. I don’t open letters. I never check my balance and just thinking about my pension makes me feel sick.
Up to this point, my financial planning has been to put off until tomorrow what I should be doing about today. It's not that I didn't worry about money. I do. It's just that I never feel able to do anything about it. The fear and shame just seem to keep getting in the way.
You may be asking yourself is this guy is some kind of idiot?
Well, I have an honours degree. I passed my professional exams over 25yrs ago and for much of the last decade I have held down a relatively well-paid job. Still, I find myself living from one paycheck to the next, with a pension pot that is too small, a mortgage that is too large and a weekly lottery ticket as seemingly my best way out.
Photo by : Pixabay.
I am now 54 years old and If you'll allow me to mix my metaphors that rainy day that we hear so much about looks like it's just around the corner and my head, as they say, has been buried deep in the sand.
What do friends and family say to me about my relationship with money?
Very little! Why? Because in the main they don't know about it. Like many men of my age, I keep my failings to myself. My relationship with money is my dirty little secret.
Where do these feelings come from? Why do I feel like this about money? These are questions which I know I'll need to find the answers to but right now they're not important.
At 50plus I am divorced, living hand to mouth and facing the prospect of working until I drop. Something has to change. The question is what and how? I have allowed this negative relationship with money to shape the first two-thirds of my life, I won't allow them to shape what I have left.
So what do I do? How do I turn around 50 years of negative thinking about money?
As is often the case when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you have to do is to stop digging.
Photo by Mumtahina Rahman.
That didn’t mean that I had to stop spending, I have to live. What it did mean was I had to confront my fears, I had to take control of my finances.
Taking Control of my finances.
I did something that I rarely do. I checked my bank balance. In fact, I got a print out of all my transactions over the last two months. I looked for what my friend the Money Spider( more about him later) would call leakages. Unnecessary and unplanned spending. £20 here at a takeaway on the way home. £100 on a night out with the boys. That thing I didn't know I wanted until I saw it on eBay or Amazon and then just had to have. I stopped the leakages and that stopped me going into my overdraft every month. I started to plan my expenditure. I know it sounds basic but I worked out how much money I needed to keep a roof over my head and keep the lights on. What was left I divided into what I could spend and what I would save. As my Nan would have said back in the day, “I cut my pattern according to my cloth.”
This isn't one of those stories where, by the end, the protagonist has solved all his problems and is sailing off into the sunset. It has taken me 50 years to get here, so I don’t expect to turn my financial ship around overnight but as they say, it’s never too late to do the right thing.
If it's not too late for me, then it's not too late for you. If like me you 50 plus and have money problems, don't give up. Take action now. Everybody's story is different, and so what works for one person may not be the solution for another. I am not a financial guru. I am not going to pretend to have all the answers, but if fear and shame are stopping you from taking action in the words of Susan Jeffers "Feel the Fear And Do it Anyway".
Take control back, and begin to turn the ship around.
Who is the Money Spider?
The Money Spider is Steven Williams a Financial Adviser who over the coming months will be working with me in the financial section and the financial forum on 50plus4men.com. Together we are going to look at practical strategies and tools that can be used to improve an individual's financial position. There will be no magic bullets just practical steps aimed at meeting the needs of 50plus men.