April 24, 2017
Robyn used our coaching to help recognise – and manage – her negative emotions around money and clarify what was important to her. She is now saving for a deposit on a place of her own with her boyfriend.
When we first met assistant architect Robyn, 25, she was looking for help. "I’d get home from work, look at my balance and think 'What’s the point?'" Robyn says. "I’d do so well for three weeks of the month, and then I’d succumb and spend money. Almost immediately I’d feel guilty because I was back to square one.”
We first helped Robyn recognise and understand her negative feelings around money through a coaching exercise we do called “Money Emotions”.
Robyn scrolled through our range of emotions and picked her top one – Hopelessness. “I’m pretty calm, but I can also be a bit sad, a bit morose,” she says. “I have really high expectations and if I feel I’m not getting anywhere, I tend to sit back or give up.”
Robyn realised that her emotions ‘bled into’ her financial behaviours, “I’ve always been quite emotionally swayed. I wanted to save up, but then I wanted to enjoy myself – buy some new clothes or eat out at a fancy restaurant with my boyfriend or friends.”
She continued, “I’d been a student for almost seven years and now I was earning some money I felt I deserved to spend money on myself.” This behaviour was clashing with her wish to save, and causing arguments with her boyfriend, who was keen for them to buy their own place.
This issue came to light when we did another coaching exercise, “Motivations”, which forced her to rank what was most important to her. She immediately saw the conflict between her desire to save for a deposit and her desire to indulge herself after many years as a penniless student.
“It was immensely satisfying to understand things – and myself – better,” she said. “I began to see the connection between the conflict in my goals and my behaviours and the knock-on effect on my emotions which also had an impact on what I did.”
Since we believe personal finance is more about the person than the finance, our coaching encourages people to first know themselves better around money – who they are, what they want (their why) – and to understand how they currently feel about money.
We convinced Robyn to talk to her parents about her goal conflict, to voice her issues and to gain valuable feedback. “They were incredibly helpful,” Robyn says. “They told me it was a struggle for them too, and took them a long time, and I’ve got to stick to my guns! I’d always assumed it was so easy for them. It was also great to hear about how they behaved around money when I was younger, so I got some background on how my attitude to money developed. I walked away feeling really free.”
Robyn is delighted by the progress she’s made. “I feel much more grounded, more level. I don’t have such strange up-and-down mood swings about my finances any more,” she says. “I’m so much clearer about my priorities now. My boyfriend and I are saving towards getting a place together but recognise it’ll take time. In the meantime, I’ve learned if I save first, and then budget for some ‘me-money’, I can enjoy spending it guilt-free. I haven’t felt hopeless in months.”
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