Are you a high earner, but still live paycheck to paycheck? Do people call you an overachiever, always pushing boundaries to get one more thing done? Can falling asleep sometimes feel like a war zone of worry, keeping you questioning your decisions during the day? Is the voice in your head relentless with criticism when you feel as if you’ve taken the wrong road?
If this sounds like you, you aren’t alone. According to the Federal Reserve’s General Social Survey, fifty-four percent of women have little to no money left over after paying bills, and nearly two-thirds of American women from ages 40-79 have already dealt with a major financial crisis — such as job loss, death of a spouse, a serious illness — that drained financial assets. With the national average household debt at $54,000, it’s a problem affecting women of all income levels.
So how can you stop your rising debt from turning you into just another one of these statistics? In order to break the cycle of overspending once and for all, you need to learn how to find and weed out the root cause.
We are all constantly striving to make balanced choices in a world where it may feel like one wrong move could send us over the edge. If we consistently choose the wrong path and simply bear the consequences instead of choosing a new path the next time, we’re only dealing with a symptom of the problem.
We know we are accountable for our decisions, but we don’t always recognize that many of our choices come from unconscious sources. The familiar adage, “actions speak louder than words,” could not be closer to the truth: It’s our behaviors that get us into hot water, not our feelings.
Therein lies the problem: the disconnect among our feelings, thoughts, and actions. Being unconscious as to the motives behind poor choices is not random. As odd as it sounds, it is very specific and designed to protect us from emotions that we are secretly afraid could be more harmful to us than the bad decisions we’ve made. Taking up residence on your financial cliff becomes its own commitment, its own drive, its own form of addiction. It serves a purpose, so we stop questioning and continue struggling to maintain balance.
But how do we get down?
You are the only one standing at the edge of your financial cliff. You have the power to choose to shift away from the edge and reclaim stable ground. You don’t have to make the entire journey alone, but you do have to take that first step and every moment you resist making that choice, you risk giving away your precious soul. Avoiding the decision surrenders your authenticity, your uniqueness, and your entitlement to be happy.
Once you decide to take back control of your spiraling debt, you are declaring to the world that you have hit your tipping point, and you are ready to do the work required to be free of the financial stress caused by your debt.
Learning about yourself never ends. It’s all about the willingness to let go and let in new information that, if followed, frees you. Gaining self-awareness is timeless. It matters less when you arrive and more that you arrive.
Listen to my interview with Nina Valens on KPFK Radio. Get more tips on managing your emotions and your money better by subscribing to my newsletter at The Financial Whisperer, and receive a chapter of my book, It’s NEVER About the Money...Even When It Is, as a thank you. Have fun, and learn more about yourself, with my money quiz.
Pegi Burdick is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.