Money’s role in the process of radical change

Money’s role in the process of radical change

We can stuff money in our ears and ignore it. It can be an excuse for not changing, for not having to change, for standing aside or apart.

It can ignite. Pour it on the fire of passion and progress. It can provide the tools for those fighting, or equip yourself for the same purpose.

It can be a distraction. A shiny bauble taking the focus off the fundamental work that needs to be done. The tool can become the thing. The money is not the thing, it is a tool, a symbol.

We can use money to participate, to protect, to provoke, to pretend that there is nothing we can do, or perhaps to actively prevent the inevitable change.

But let’s not forget that we are not powerless. We are making a choice.

Change happens, often radically, and our money is a part of that.

Money’s role in the process of radical change

Left out of the conversation

“Dad would love that!”

That’s what we say now that he’s gone. He can’t tell us, so we fill in the gaps.

The truth is, I was often surprised by what my father loved. But now that he’s not an active part of the conversation… I have to guess.

That’s what happens when you fill in someone else’s part in a conversation. It’s a guess. You don’t actually know.

There are lots of people left out of the financial conversation. Lots of people we don’t ask about which things they find hard, or what they would find most helpful. So even the most well-meaning of us in the financial world, we take a guess instead…

And I would imagine, from the prevalence of financial stress lots of people are feeling at the moment… we’re not always guessing right. 

So maybe, if those groups/people are still around, it would be better to just ask… and start building solutions from there.

Money’s role in the process of radical change

A guide and a companion

I’m not all that fond of the word expert. It’s never been a hat that fits for me.

I like the word expertise… because it’s something you have, rather than something you are.

But I think my favourite qualifier when it comes to my job as a financial support is: guide.

A guide doesn’t know exactly what you’ll meet on your journey, but they have an arsenal of tools to help with whatever comes up.

A guide can describe the likely upcoming terrain, and how you can be ready for it.

A guide can help you buy the right gear (and steer you away from the stuff that you’ll never use and just weighs you down).

And most of all, a guide is a companion. Sometimes there is nothing to do. This is something I’ve been struggling with as I look for ways to support my community. I can not restart industries. I cannot replace the income people have lost. Sometimes all I can do is be with them in it, to talk about ideas or commiserate. To remind them that they are doing everything that is possible. Not to say everything will be okay, because I don’t know if it will. But to simply be there.

Money’s role in the process of radical change

We all have to raise our prices?

It’s something I’ve struggled with since day one, and I know I’m not alone.

Artists may think that other folks have it easier, I have not found that to be true. Turns out it’s hard to price yourself and ‘get paid what you’re worth’ in lots of fields.

I’m a big fan of people getting paid what they’re worth. I’m a big fan of artists getting paid what they’re worth. Let the record show I am a big fan of this.

But I also struggle when I hear:

‘You have to raise your prices’.
“You’ll find people who CAN afford you”

Because that means leaving people behind.

And in finance, that means that the same groups of people always get left behind. This is hard to live with.

There are no solutions here. I work with people every day to better understand their expenses and what income goals they need to support them. Sometimes increasing income is absolutely necessary, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t come without a cost. Let’s not pretend that we can have it all.

If we are worth thousands of dollars for our services, some people will struggle to gain access to those services. This is part of the equation for many of us, not just the very present imposter syndrome at the heart of a low ball offer.

Raising prices IS complex, and deserves careful thought about what you’re trying to do, what you can afford, and what is the best option when balancing your own care and the care of those you serve.

Money’s role in the process of radical change

Certified Financial Planner

Last fall, I passed my exams for the certified financial planner designation. This month, I was approved to start using those letters behind my name.

For most of you, this will not seem like a big deal. In truth, it probably isn’t. It’s one of many financial acronyms that people in the finance industry carry around.

But I’m quite proud of it.

I’m proud of it because it was not easy for me. Passing those exams and coursework was difficult. I know I’m not supposed to say that. I’m supposed to pretend like it was easy. But it wasn’t, and I won’t… and I think that’s an important thing to say.

I continually find myself needing to translate the language of finance into something I can more readily understand. It’s why I write in metaphors and indirect language so often. That’s not for other people, it’s for me.

Being good at spreadsheets and reading the tax code is not why I’m a good financial coach and planner. It’s a thing I have learned (and am continuing to learn) so that I can become a better coach and planner.

The same is true for all of you.

If you don’t feel at home in financial language, that’s okay. You’re not alone. Remember that the real complexity of figuring out your money is in the big questions of ‘what do I want to do’ and ‘how do I decide what’s most important’. Remember that you can learn things that don’t come naturally to you.

… and remember that once you do, it will feel all the more satisfying.