The super gender gap. The ‘glass ceiling’. No doubt you’ve heard of them – the media often reminds us of the fact women are not earning equal pay for equal work. It’s also a fact that women generally take more time off from full or part-time work to care for children or elderly parents. It all adds up to a financial future that’s anything but certain. As a result, we women need to be super savvy in how we handle our finances.
Whether you run your own business, work for someone else, or you’re in charge of the household budget, there’s a common goal: to have enough money to make ends meet and enough left over to live the lifestyle we desire. Sounds simple, right? Then why does taking control of our finances feel like we are trying to control a runaway train?
Let’s face it: money talk can make us squirm with discomfort (and often just from the talk in our own heads!). This discomfort has many sources: it may be fear, panic, overwhelm and shame, all filling our heads so full with worry we can’t get a good night’s sleep.
So, what would it take for you to live a life of certainty, knowing your financial freedom is assured? A life that is comfortable and carefree, one where you control your finances and they don’t control you. I’m sure you can imagine it, but how do you make it real?
As an accountant and a woman in business, I’ve also experienced the obstacles, uncertainties and fears you do. But I’ve discovered some pretty important factors to reclaiming control of my finances to get my business moving where I want it to go. And I want to share them with you.
1. Know yourself
Do you know what’s really important to you? You need to, because this is how your journey to financial freedom starts. This can be tough because you need to block out what you think should be important, which is often influenced by the people around you. This is purely about you, no self-judgement. What you consider important is driven by your values. And while you may not be aware of your values, they provide the framework for how you live your life. They influence your decisions, your behaviour, your goals and your interactions with others.
There are many worthy and noble values to choose from, but I suggest there are only 3 or 4 dominant values when pitted against each other. So, dig deep and ask: what’s important to me? What will I stand up for and defend? What brings me a sense of meaning?
Once you know your values, you can begin to take back control of your life. You will know the source of not only internal conflicts but conflicts with others. This includes conflicts over money. We all know one of the most common things couples argue over is money. Why? Two main reasons:
- we all value money differently
- we all value what should be done with it differently.
Knowing yourself means you won’t second-guess yourself, because your decisions are made using your heart and your head. This has a flow-on effect to your relationships, with less conflict and more negotiation around money.
2. Own your financial situation
Now this can be challenging. It’s confronting when all you can see is a pile of bills and debt in front of you. You may even get someone else like a partner or business partner to look after your finances because you are just not that interested. Well, in my 20-plus years as an accountant, I have rarely seen either strategy end well. Until you can step up, acknowledge, take responsibility and own your financial situation you can’t move forward. It is up to you to take the necessary actions to change your financial future. It can’t be delegated.
3. Take stock
Do you understand what you own and what you owe? Whether you have a little or a lot, you need to know exactly where you stand financially. This will form the basis for steps 4 and 5 when you work with a trusted advisor to develop your financial plan.
4. Get expert help
Starting your financial freedom journey can be overwhelming, so I encourage you to seek the help of a qualified professional. Financial discussions cross over into different areas, so you may need more than one advisor. You may need an accountant, financial planner/insurance broker, mortgage broker and lawyer. What’s important here is to find one advisor from those listed, who is your trusted advisor. They will then introduce and co-ordinate the other advisors if you need them.
Don’t be afraid to interview a short list of candidates for your trusted advisor. You need to make sure you are working with someone you feel comfortable with and who understands you. A trusted advisor will take the time to get to know you and won’t judge your situation or degree of financial literacy. They will ask you challenging questions, keep you accountable and on track to meet your goals. Most of all, you will feel safe to ask them questions. This is how you gain more knowledge – and confidence – to manage your financial future.
5. Work to a plan
You may have heard the saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Your financial plan is your road map, taking you from where you are now to where you want to be. Your trusted advisor will be instrumental in helping you develop and implement your plan.
Once you have your plan, it is critical that you check in with your trusted advisor to make sure you are still on track. Like any long journey, you may know your start and end points, but you will certainly encounter road blocks and detours along the way. While there may be changes to your plans, with expert guidance, you will remain confident, in control and won’t be completely derailed.
Financial freedom looks different for everyone. However the author, Henry David Thoreau, beautifully sums up what it is to be wealthy: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life”.
My wish is that you fully experience the life you desire – and you will, when you take charge of your business and finances. It’s a win-win!
What’s your biggest roadblock to taking control of your finances? Tell us in the comments below.
How can we help?
At Accounting Heart, we understand finances may not be your strong point. So, you’re invited to book a FREE Discovery Call where we can find out what you need and how we can help.