Budgets and stress

by Jun 14, 2018Life & Money Q&As

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‘How do you help someone who is simply unable
to understand a budget or follow one and it’s causing
tremendous emotional and financial stress in their lives?’
Here’s what we thought to this powerful and moving question…

I am really interested in your phrase ‘simply unable to understand a budget’. I wonder if you know why this the case. Is it a lack of numeric skills, in which case bit of education around this area will certainly help? Or is it more about practical finance, the income expenditure equation? Or is it more emotional? When we start to map out our expenditure in the form of a budget we hold up a mirror to our lives in the sense that we chronicle in detail our daily living through our financial outgoings. This often make for uncomfortable reading if it turns out you are existing rather than living.

Money does bring out strong emotions and and I feel deeply for the person you want to help (and you) when you talk about their ‘tremendous emotional and financial stress’. Again, I wonder if you know precisely what is stressing them.

Is it because they don’t know where they stand? This manifests itself in sleepless nights, constant worry and an inability to move forward because you cannot see the overall financial picture. Money is, after all, one of our most important resources and you cannot use it for best effect if you don’t know your own financial strength.

Or is it that, without good financial controls in place, the person you want to help is overspending and in debt, or underspending and not using their money for best effect?

Or is it because they simply do not connect the life they lead with their money, and therefore don’t understand the importance of good budgeting?

Given all of this, where do you begin? You want to help someone with a financial problem. ‘Help’ is a big word and you might want to consider to what extent the solution lies in them for them to discover rather than for you to provide.

Were the individual involved a client of mine I would start, not by telling them what to do, but asking very open questions about their circumstances, and listening empathically without judgement, sympathy or criticism.

In your case, you might want to initiate the same sort of conversation in a less formal way – but have the conversation. Conversations change lives. Specifically, such a conversation will:

Give the individual the opportunity to open up about anything and everything of significance to the situation
Generate an emotional intelligence in the individual which in turn may lead to them finding their own answers within themselves
Develop and strengthen your own relationship with the individual, enabling you in time to move from listening to challenging to acceptance by the individual of your own insights. Challenging and offering your own insights will not work unless you have built up a trusting relationship with the individual first.

One more thing: help the individual to explore and clarify their own deep aspirations for their life. This will give them direction, energy and the will to move forward.

With the proviso that I do not have the full facts, I believe the problem should be addressed from a coaching / counselling perspective first before moving on to the numbers and processes of budgeting and financial planning.

Tim Gouw Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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