Money management is an important life skill, but most adults wouldn’t do well on a test about it.
Check out the results of the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, a survey meant to find out how well people understand money. In the year 2022, adults in the U.S. could only answer about half of the questions about money correctly.
That is, you’re not the only one who doesn’t understand money. But you might know less about how money works than about how our brains do. If you know how to deal with some of the most common problems, you might finally be able to get your money under control.
Money is a new way of talking.
You wouldn’t expect to be able to talk easily in Madrid or Mexico City if you only knew a few words of Spanish. In the same way, there are many words, phrases, and ideas in personal finance that take time to learn.
Why is money so confusing?
“Getting into the world of money is like moving to a new country and learning a new language,” says Ed Combs, a certified financial planner, and couples therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina.
No one should make you feel dumb because you don’t understand everything right away. But it can be hard to learn when we meet people who are judgmental, condescending, or dogmatic, which unfortunately describes a lot of people who know personal finance lingo.
Many people who know a lot about money, whether they are professionals or not, can seem bossy, saying things like, “Yes, I know what’s best for you.” Combs says, “You should do this.”
People who are strict with their own money may not understand how your culture and life experiences have shaped you. They might tell you to put every dollar you can toward paying off debt or saving for retirement, but you might think it’s more important to tithe to your church or take care of your elderly parents.
Rachael DeLeon, who is the interim director of the non-profit Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education, says that helpful advisors meet people where they are instead of telling them how to spend their money.
You need to figure out what’s important to you. What’s important to you? And how are you going to do that with your own money? ” DeLeon says.
Money makes people feel.
A lot of people have strong, and often bad, feelings about money. For example, if you have trouble keeping track of your money, you might feel so bad about it that you try not to talk about it or even think about it.
Combs says, “That’s really what stops people from getting ahead financially.” “They think they should know and feel bad that they don’t.”
Dr. Coambs, who wrote “The Healthy Love & Money Way: How the Four Attachment Styles Affect Your Financial Well-Being,” says that our ideas about money are often shaped by painful experiences we had as children. Hearing our parents fight about money or go through hard times financially can be upsetting and make us think that money is dangerous or a sign of shame.
Combs says to talk to people who will listen and care about how you feel about money. This could be a caring financial advisor, a trusted friend who knows a lot about money, or a financial therapist.
As Combs says, “A lot of us act based on how safe we feel.”
” Most of the time, we’ll feel stuck and stalled until we feel safe and accepted. ” When it comes to money, people also often feel afraid. They might be afraid of making a mistake, not having enough, getting ripped off, or being misled.
DeLeon says, “This area is full of bad people, and it’s hard to know who to trust.”
It is very important to go to school. DeLeon says you can learn the basics of personal finance from reliable sources like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the JumpStart Coalition, which helps young people learn about money.
You can, however, hire people to help you. Fee-only advisors are the ones that DeLeon recommends. This means that they only get paid by the fees their clients pay them. They don’t get paid by commissions or other ways that could change what they say.
DeLeon says that when it comes to money, knowing who to ask is more important than knowing all the:
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