Previously, in Part Three of A Money Love Story (aka: my financial mess turned dream life)…
Like a hopeless romantic, I fell head-over-heels in love with the idea of growing my tiny counseling practice into a full service wellness center and dove in head first. I spent a ton of money on expanding my business in hope of bringing in six figures that year…but my dreams were shattered by astronomical overhead, contractors stealing business from me, and a shortage of paying clients. Fighting about money with my husband, crying over a negative bank account balance, and feeling like a complete failure, I found myself in a couple’s therapy session trying to help a heated couple end the blame game when I made a discovery that would change my life forever.
Here is Part Four…
As I saw that couple go back and forth with accusations of “you’re never there for me”…
“you’re not doing enough”…and “you’re always letting me down”… I made an important discovery about myself.
My relationship with money was toxic…much like the romantic relationship between the couple sitting in front of me!
I was a demanding jerk to my money. “Give me this! Give me that! Do this for me now!” No wonder my money ghosted me!
This realization got me thinking…
What if being “bad with money and shitty at math” wasn’t the underlying cause of my financial mess? What if my unhealthy relationship with money was the problem? Based on my experience and training in couple’s therapy, I was convinced that was a very real possibility.
So, I decided to take the same strategies and techniques I use in couple’s therapy and apply them to my relationship with money…so I could heal that relationship and stop being a “bad girlfriend” to my money.
One piece of advice I give to every couple I work with is to have DATE NIGHTS…
Intentionally setting aside quality time together to play…have fun…flirt with each other…and make the relationship a priority.
Feeling resentful and angry with my money made me avoid it…but hiding under the covers and stuffing bills into the back of my desk drawer was only making my problems worse. I had to start seeing my money as a friend…a partner…a lover…instead of an enemy.
I knew I needed to take my own advice and start “dating my money”…and start scheduling MONEY DATES that were fun and flirty so tending to my money relationship would feel sexy and exciting…instead of overwhelming and anxiety provoking.
So, I booked weekly money dates…started getting to know my money…where it was going…what it was doing…and began to share my hopes and dreams for the future with my money so we could work together as a team to make them reality.
If this was a movie, you’d see my money come to life in cartoon form and have it’s own personality. I highly recommend visualizing your money like this too, because personifying it makes money so much easier to understand.
I learned a lot about my money and myself during these money dates…and started making changes in the way I thought about money…in the way I felt about it…and in the way I behaved with money. (This process was based on a scientifically proven type of treatment I use with therapy clients called “cognitive behavioral therapy”. See, it’s legit!)
Instead of focusing on “chasing paper” and getting more paying clients, I started focusing on becoming the very best therapist I could be. I loved up on the clients I already had instead of trying to persuade new ones to come work with me.
Making that shift resulted in multiplying my income x 5 in eight months!
My shopping addiction was like cheating on my money…and my money didn’t like it when I’d blow all my money on shiny objects I didn’t really need. So, I started treating my money with more respect by trimming back expenses and only buying the things that aligned with my values.
That meant creating a spending plan and sticking to it so I could put an end to overspending, living above my means, and going deeper into debt. Every week, I’d tend to my budget during a money date…challenging myself to free up more money (by spending less) so I could pay extra toward the $87,000 of debt still hanging over our heads.
I knew if I wanted to wipe out that debt for good, I needed to move my wellness center into a more affordable space…and say goodbye to the big, beautiful office space I’d built from scratch. I loved that space…but it was a sacrifice I had to make for my money relationship to last…and it wasn’t going to be easy getting out of that five year lease.
I begged and pleaded with my landlord…but he wouldn’t budge. If I wanted to get out of the lease 18 months early, I had to hand over $20K. I scrimped and saved and took on extra clients to make it happen…because buying myself out of the lease would save me a ton of money in the end.
I bought a cute, little 1940’s house for the wellness center and trimmed back my team to fit into it. It had become clear that many of the services we offered weren’t profitable…so I eliminated those and focused on nurturing the services that generated the most income.
Dramatically reducing my business expenses…and increasing my income…made it possible for us to pay off that $87,000 of debt in just 2 years!
Finally! I was debt free…making money in my business…and swooning over my money.
My money and I had a steamy love affair going on. I learned that if I made my money a priority…treated it with respect and appreciation…and took good care of it that my money would always be there for me…and love me right back.
The wellness center really took off after that…and grew organically over time. I hired additional therapists and taught them how to help clients get incredible results…which generated even more clients. Before I knew it, the wellness center was generating six-figures…like I’d wanted it to from the start.
It took 5 years…a lot of mistakes…many sleepless nights…and tough lessons learned to get there. But it was totally worth it, because all those twists, turns, and challenges led me to my money…and motivated me to start a love affair with my money that would last a lifetime.
Dating my money transformed my entire financial life. Not only was I able to make my business profitable and pay off all my debt…but we were also able to save 5 months of living expenses in an emergency fund…and fully fund our retirement accounts.
Because I got in control of my money and paid attention to it regularly, I knew right when to sell the house in Colorado that we’d been renting. (Remember that house from Part II??)
The housing market exploded in Denver after marijuana became legalized, and the little house I’d bought dirt cheap right after the housing market crashed in 2008 was now worth three times what I paid for it.
We sold that house in 3 days…walked away with a $160,000 profit…and used the money to buy our dream home- a little farm out in the country, complete with a swimming pool and tons of space for our chickens to run around.
I was living my dream life. I had money to spend on the things that mattered to me…like books…and traveling…and making our home a zen sanctuary where we could rest and play together. I felt like I’d finally “made it”…and my money woes were over.
I looked back over my experiences of being a struggling entrepreneur, making messy money mistakes and all the pain that came from being completely out of control with my money…and how I managed to turn my financial mess into a romantic money love story.
I wondered, “What if there are other women out there struggling with the same thing?
There’s got to be other entrepreneurs, coaches, and creatives out there who want to grow profitable businesses but don’t know how to do it. I bet there are other women, just like me, who have complicated feelings about money that are holding them back from living their dreams.”
Could my methods and strategies for transforming my financial life work for them too? Could other women get the same incredible results as I did by dating their money and applying couple’s therapy techniques to their money relationship?
Those questions stirred up a burning desire to help other female entrepreneurs fix their finances…
…and led to another brilliant, crazy, wild idea.
But what would my husband say about this one? After everything we’d been through with the wellness center, it would be hard to sell him on this next idea.
Should I tell him? Or keep this a little secret?
Find out what happened in the last chapter of my Money Love Story- Part V next week!