Everyone can be good at money.
Don’t believe me? Consider this: money is 50% technical and 50% emotional.
Most people focus on the technical side of money: the how-tos of taxes, bookkeeping, budgeting, and financial analytics. New entrepreneurs usually dive into learning these concepts, only to find that they hit a wall somewhere along the way.
The cycle looks like this: Eagerness to learn *all the things*. Overwhelm creeps in because *all the things* turns out to be a lot of things. Then there’s avoidance- doing the money stuff doesn’t feel good when it’s overwhelming, unclear, or confusing.
Next the panic, especially at tax time, when business owners realize there’s a looming deadline they must meet to stay compliant. And finally, defeat, a sense of failure, and the belief that you’ll “never get money.”
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Even I, a financial consultant, have experienced this cycle. This may surprise you because, as a financial expert, shouldn’t I already know *all the things* about money? And shouldn’t money be easy for me?
The technical side is, yes. But, if we lean into the belief that money is 50% technical and 50% emotional, then I’ve only addressed half of the whole. This is why, for many years, I was a financial hot mess in my business.
The truth is, I’ve never been “good with money.” Until my thirties, I was in a perpetual cycle of debt, an empty savings account, and defaulted on so many loans that my credit was ruined. When I became self-employed, these not-so-great money habits transferred into my business. But, instead of just struggling to have enough, I also struggled to do my bookkeeping, invoice clients on time, charge appropriately and file my taxes.
I was a self-employed bookkeeper who didn’t do her bookkeeping, had no idea how much money she was making (spoiler alert: it wasn’t enough), couldn’t pay her credit card, and was constantly panicking at tax time.
It wasn’t until I reckoned with my emotional relationship with money that things started to shift, and I realized that the technical side of money isn’t enough. I was someone with all the skills and expertise, and yet I still couldn’t “do the money stuff.” Not because I didn’t know how, but because I had money wounds that needed healing.
We all carry money wounds, which show up in our lives, and business, as money shame. Money shame is all the ick we feel about money that gets rolled up into our beliefs, actions, inactions, and resistance related to money. I call it money shame because often it’s unspoken, and we’re embarrassed about the ways it impacts our life.
I've created a free workbook for you to follow along with these next money exercises. Use this workbook as a space to examine your own money wounds and start piecing together solutions that will work for you.
The first step to examining your emotional relationship with money is simply to acknowledge how money shame shows up in your business. Typically, there are three ways money shame manifests.
The first is through our limiting beliefs, which are also called your inner critic, a gremlin, or an inner saboteur. There are different names for it, but the idea is the same. A limiting belief is something that you believe (which may or may not be true) that is holding you back somehow. Examples of limiting beliefs are, “There’s not enough money/work/clients,” “I have to work hard to make money,” and “Only certain kinds of people deserve money.”
Money shame also shows up through unconscious actions. These are things that you’re doing with your money that you don’t realize. Some examples are overspending, being afraid to spend money, impulse buying, undercharging, and avoiding your money.
The third way money shame shows up is through resistance. You may even be resisting reading this post right now! But, more commonly, this looks like knowing you need to do something for your business (like your bookkeeping) and resisting it.
Money shame is the symptom of a deeper money wound or wounds. The next step is to identify the wound and understand where it comes from. Money wounds are related to the way money shame manifests in your business. So, if you’re not sure how to identify the wound, start with the behavior.
For example, in my own business, I was a chronic undercharger. Not only did I underprice my services, but I also underbilled my clients (here are some tips that help me figure out what to charge for my services). Acknowledging that, I realized the wound had something to do with value and worth.
From there, I dug deeper to understand how my sense of value and worth was shaped. I realized that as a child, I received messages that I was financially unworthy. My father didn’t pay child support, and it was a constant source of conflict between my parents. Witnessing this conflict, I learned that I wasn’t worth supporting financially and that asking for financial support caused conflict.
My money wound was that I wasn’t worthy of financial support, and it was dangerous to seek it.
Money wounds can come from many places, but the most common are:
The final step is to identify the medicine for the wound. Just like physical wounds, not all wounds are treated the same way. You wouldn’t put a band-aid on a broken arm, just like you wouldn’t put a cast on a skinned knee. So, understanding the medicine you need is essential.
For me, I needed to heal the wound that I wasn’t worthy of financial support and rewrite the story of my childhood. I asked myself if I didn’t have that childhood experience, what behavior would be different?
Well, I would be charging more! So I raised my prices and began to reframe that I was worthy of financial support.
We just did a deep dive into the emotional side of money, but earlier I said that money is equal parts emotional and technical. It’s tempting to think of money as a pie chart that’s split evenly down the middle—half emotional, half technical.
But, money isn’t split neatly in half; it’s integrated. Think of it like a batter. You add the emotional and the technical together to create one cohesive mixture.
Often, one of the best salves for a money wound is learning the technical side of money. Filling our knowledge gaps helps us spotlight the part of ourselves that is good with money and increases our financial confidence. As we build that confidence, we open doorways to learning even more while also healing our money wounds.
The two sides of money work together. Without the technical, we can’t use our financial knowledge to take meaningful action in our business. Without the emotional, we get stalled in our learning journey. If you’ve been struggling to “get” money, it isn’t because you’re bad with money. It’s because you’re missing one of these two crucial ingredients.
Like money, art is also both technical and emotional. Artists need the technical skills to execute their artistic vision. But, what creates a compelling work of art isn’t the most technically perfect brush stroke; it’s the emotion behind it and what that emotion evokes.
Just like artists must learn to balance and integrate their craft’s technical skill with the emotion of their vision, artists must also integrate the emotional side of money with the technical. The good news is that artists are already well-versed in holding the two. In art school and their professional lives, they have practiced this balance and can apply it to money management.
This leads me back to: Everyone can be good at money. It isn’t a skill that people are innately born with; it’s a balance and the practice of giving equal importance to both sides. As you begin your financial journey, lean into what you already know and trust that if you’ve done this once, you can surely do it again.
Meet the author:
Andi Smiles, small business financial consultant and coach, teaches self-employed people to take control of their finances so they can step into their personal power. She’s helped hundreds of self-employed people organize and understand their business finances, while also uncovering their emotional relationship with money. She is a founding faculty member at Parsons Entrepreneur Academy, and is teaching finance and budgeting for creatives and QuickBooks for Creatives.
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