"…allowing your life to be taken up by financial struggle and strife is playing smaller than you’re capable of."
Kate Northrup shares her own Money Love Story, as she challenge the reader to pay attention to theirs. Her target market here is clearly women, and this book is relevant to anyone who has ever been reluctant to open a bill, who knows they should save more, spend less or just be more aware of their finances. I see Money: A Love Story also as particularly relevant to entrepreneurs.
Northrup has packed her book chock full of stories, and invites the reader to take it slow. The author has built in plenty of opportunities for reflection as well as for action. She often refers us back to our “Money Love Journal” so that we can make what we are learning here as relevant as possible to our own real-life situation. She also provides an extensive list of resources for anyone who wants to dig a little, or a lot, deeper. By the end of this book, the reader has had an opportunity to reflect on her financial past, her present, and plan for a better future.
Northrup opens the book with a reality-check quiz. Here’s what she says about that quiz: “…it’s good to establish where you stand now in relationship to money. Take this quick quiz to learn what’s holding you back from the abundance you desire and what your current relationship with money says about you.” From here, she offers opportunities for us to think differently about money, and about abundance. She then gives us reasons, and ways, to just pay attention and take charge of our finances. Finally, she shares some ways to find financial freedom, which she says is more about choice than anything else.
Financial freedom defined
"The first stage to becoming financially free is to tell the truth of your story to yourself…."
Northrup describes freedom as choice. “Freedom doesn’t necessarily mean opting to do crazy, wild things or living a life vastly outside the box. But it’s the option to do so should you choose.”
The reader who rolls up her sleeves and dives into changing her relationship with money will learn some valuable lessons, and will look at her money in a new way. When that happens, freedom is close at hand, according to the author. Take self-care for example. According to this author, taking care of your finances is an act of self-care. Being aware of how you spend and how you earn your money brings you closer to the freedom to make choices about these two things.
"…getting your life in financial order includes implementing some basic paying-attention practices. Because what you pay attention to grows."
Northrup challenges her readers to get their heads out of the denial that comes so easily with things that are uncomfortable and hard. By framing it in this way – pay attention to what you want to see grow – she shows the reader that there are “…action steps that are quick and that can be done regularly to build up your financial consciousness tolerance baby step by baby step.” Here are some examples: daily balance checking, daily expense and income tracking, weekly reading of something about money, monthly creation of a spending plan, regular meetings with a financial team, and so on. The list is long of ways to be aware of where our money comes from and where it goes.
Beyond this, the reader is urged to keep with it. Keep on paying attention. Getting help/support will not only require you to be honest with yourself about your finances, but will get you on your way to creating a team. This team of experts can be there to answer your questions, and to help you see everything more clearly.
Maybe it’s even possible to make finances fun and pleasurable. Northrup sprinkles the ways that she has created this for herself throughout the book. For example, she refers to her bills as “Invoices for Blessings Already Received”. She also refers often to putting on good music, lighting candles, maybe even putting on a stunning outfit when you are about to spend time with your finances. Given that what we pay attention to grows, why not pay more, and better attention, and make it fun along the way?
You’ve got you
"The action steps taken with a positive mind-set toward paying off your debt or reining in your spending will be easier to stick with and will have a more profound, sustainable impact on your financial situation."
As the reader grows her awareness of her financial situation, she’s also nudged along the way to learn that it’s all her! Northrup titled one of her chapters “You Owe You” and shares the concept of the Money for Me account. It goes something like this: Every time you make a choice that saves you money, put that money into a Money for Me account. That account can then be used to pay for something that feels like a reward, or even to pay your bills. How to get money into that account? When you are standing there deciding whether or not to buy something, and you choose not to buy it, that money could go into the Money for Me account. When you negotiate a better rate on something, when you get a raise or increase your rates, put the extra into this account. The Money for Me account is a tangible way of knowing that you are in charge of your choices, and your choices determine the state of your financial health.
Kate Northrup has created a lovely book that gently accompanies anyone who is ready to take a good look at their personal finances. She has shared her own story, and stories of others, throughout this book in an effort to show the reader that shaming ourselves about our money choices to date will not do anyone any good. She takes us along the path of learning more about the choices we have made, why we have made them, and making new ones as we move forward. Here’s something that demonstrates the “feel” of this book, and of her approach.
“The point is, none of us wants things in life because we actually want the things. We want certain things because we want to feel a certain way. And the great thing about focusing on how we want to feel instead of what we actually want is that we’ll be pleased by what we manifest in our lives instead of having our claws digging into the way it has to be in order for us to be happy.”
One a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is “head in the sand” denial, and 10 is “I can tell you right now exactly where I spent every dollar in the last 10 days”), how do you rate your money awareness? What do you think you need to do to get closer to a 10?