Financial Counseling – Messy!

I conduct financial counseling sessions regularly.   Many times, these meetings are the result of a major financial crisis!   Messy!

If you ever sit in a financial counseling session with me, you will be asked the question, “Sir, how do you feel about your current financial situation?” and “Ma’am, how do you feel about your current financial situation?”

I will require each one to answer on their own.   Why?   I need to know where each one is regarding the current situation.   It also forces them to hear their spouse express their feelings out loud to another person.   POWERFUL stuff!   It can also be MESSY!

Many times, spouses are not on the same page as it relates to their financial situation.   This can happen for a number of reasons, the most common one being a lack of working together and not communicating their real feelings.     MESSY!

As I sit with a couple in the middle of a major financial crisis, it is my desire to hear them recognize the items that got them into the mess in the first place.   NOTE: I am not too interested in hearing the blame-game here!   That will get us nowhere!

What really gets me, however, is the number of couples I sit down with that are in a HUGE financial crisis and refuse to change their behavior!   MESSY!

“We are upside-down $500 a month, but we have got to have cable TV!”

“We are upside-down $1,000 a month, but I have got to keep the car (and related car payment) that I paid 1 year’s salary for!

“We are two months behind on the car and one month behind on the house, but we really need to keep our horse in the stable that we pay $400 a month for.”

Statements are made like this and then they look expectantly at me like I am going to magically fix their problem!   NOT A CHANCE!   ALL I can do is teach someone HOW to manage their money well.   I can NOT make someone change.   In these cases, I look  at the person and think, “What a mess!   If they are not willing to change, how can I help them?”

At the end of the day, the formula still holds true:

INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO

If OUTGO is greater than INCOME, then you must either increase INCOME or decrease OUTGO or do both!   It is that simple!

I have HOPE that people can improve their financial situation, but if they are not willing to modify or eliminate the behavior that got them there in the first place,  our meeting will not accomplish much!   I would much rather dive into the messy details with a couple who wants to win financially and is willing to modify the behavior that got them there!   It is messy, but the results of (1) restoring hope where there was no hope, (2) improving marriages, and (3) improving their finances is SO worth it!

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