By Tabitha Tworek
I personally know fear has two speeds for me , a low grade grating away of my confidence, undermining erosion of my momentum and when it rears itself suddenly every so often in an acute way, like a sudden grab at your throat not by a physical hand but of emotion that’s just as real. Almost in the same way that avoiding a collision with a heavy brake foot is sudden and acute and brings a rush of awareness and blood pumping through your ears and eyes.
I meet and notice other people’s fear often, fear of not knowing how to navigate big decisions, fear of the Unknown, fear of over committing, fear of new ideas. I notice it because a while ago during a period of extremely high personal change I understood that my own anxiety was ruling me. It’s become part of my fabric as a person that is sewn into many significant life events but I can honestly say I continue to refine its role from the show stopper into a minor part of an undulating storyline.
I also believe that fear is relative to your own story, in the same way that a trip can be done a number of ways, the destination may be the same, but the journey to get there leaves every traveller with a difference in their experience and the internal storytelling of our own narration of arriving at a destination, ( is child birth any different really?)
If everybody is heading to France, one person flies first class, someone else takes many trains and ground travel options across the continents, another takes a cruise in heavy waters and someone else takes a row boat with a leak and someone else floats with the current in a life jacket and bounces around the globe to arrive on a shore in the Cote De Azur having survived. It’s just not an equal representation to say that we all went to France. The survivorship and fear of your own journey affects your confidence and willingness to try again, and to tackle the next challenge that is ahead of you.
In money matters, I hear other people’s fear when they talk about things they have experienced before, periods of extreme that left scars or comradery when they felt someone else’s pain financially, a sharp decline in share values and what impact that had on a family member when their stress increased, a period of unplanned unemployment and the pressure it added to a mortgage, a period of planned parental leave that meant a one wage or no wage combined with the stress of change in family roles, a new range of skills to navigate as a new parent, the loss of belonging and purpose when a newly or recently retired person leaves their much loved career, and have completed their year long ‘to do’ list of things put off until retirement.
I believe in identifying your fears, and for those that have a predictable element easing yourself into experiencing them slowly and with a plan so that you can gain confidence to see the opportunity behind the emotion.
For me, I know it was debilitating blinding me from the pathway through that temporary state of emotion as an accidental brake stopping me from experiencing and enjoying the upside. It’s the thief that steals your joy from working through the prickly side of life.
In relation to your money matters, some of our fears have been accumulated from other people’s experiences, and with some structured plans may have even been avoided or managed in a way that they could have been less scary.
There are three principles that I share and believe in and practice in my own life.
Find your limit, know where your own personal stress line is and put plans in place to grow close to that limit with contingencies to stop you before you reach it and then find a way to stretch that limit in a slower less urgent way that is linked with moments of joy or relief when the dire result you expect doesn’t in fact follow.
For example, if you feel stress when lump sum bills arrive and it’s due to not having a sufficient buffer to simply pay your bills as they are due, you may fall into a cycle of putting the big bill on a credit card and then mentally committing to paying more towards your credit card each month for those lumpy bills. The balance is increasing due to interest and the monthly regular small bills that also hit the same card. How does the cycle change? The regular feeling of fear and stress washes with every envelope that’s a bill and every emailed notification of money due. How can you really arrest the cycle, build up your buffer and shake the spender cycle to make it a regular achievement, joy over fear.
Why not divide the inevitable cause of regular fear to conquer it?
Divide the bills we know will come, divide the approximate amount of your quarterly energy bill into the same periods as your regular income, weekly or fort nightly, arrange to pay the weekly or fortnightly amount direct to a BPay code for that provider as an advance payment. The pain will be there for the first month or quarter as you still have a few lumpy bills that haven’t yet benefited from your divide and conquer approach. But fast forward a few months and think about the joy in opening your bills that are in credit or negligible. How much joy did you feel when that previously lumpy amount didn’t add to your credit card?
Earn an income without going to work, this is called a passive income. To achieve it you need to buy things that can earn without your time. We are talking about investments, and assets that provide you with an income or return just because you own them. Things like shares and property, investments and businesses.
Divide and conquer by starting with finding room in your budget to fund these aquisitions regularly, weekly or fortnightly and turn those traditional ideas of ‘I need to save the money up into a large pot before I can do it’ because I don’t have enough compared to other people, on its head. Ask for help to start small and create a new habit that is regular and structured, so that you don’t reweigh up the emotion of the decision every month. Make it automatic. A regular investment through growth investments like shares or managed funds may allow you to start with a very small balance and grow it often, if you already have assets like equity in your home and room in your budget allows you to pay things off, perhaps you can take your pay things off attitude and apply it to acquiring investments, pay off the monthly interest cost of an investment whilst you have invested a lumpy amount that is earning a return.
Shake off some of your fears through outsourcing.
What if I can’t work and afford my new strategy? What if I had something that could replace my income so I can still afford my life? What if I had a plan to fall back on?
What if the investment world crashes? What if I had a strategy for my investment to limit the chance of my need to access my investment if in the short term the money world has crashed? What if my plan meant I stuck to my plan and had a bigger upside if I stopped listening to my fear and listened to my sensible and kept my nerve. What if my plan could limit my downside to be within limit of my comfort zone?
What if no one rents my investment property? What if it’s rented within a shorter time if I adjust my expectations and have help from a professional? What if I have a plan that’s very conservative to make sure that I can handle a vacancy period?
What if I find a new goal that is different and I need to unpack it? What if I have an exit strategy and I can rely on that and trade off the new goal with the costs of unpacking an old goal and decide on my priority?
Am I good enough to do this? Am I valuable enough to create this for my self? Will my older wiser self with more experience in a few years be grateful for testing my fears and doing something new?
What if I don’t like it? What if I love it?
Ask for help from someone that can mentor you because they have the skills to help give you a footing on the mountain of fear.
I provide personal financial planning advice for every family stage so that you can tackle change with a strategy and build your resilience to cope with money fear and build your joy in milestones that you choose.
Tabitha Tworek is a Sub Authorised Representative of Insight Wealth Planning Pty Ltd, corporate authorised representative of GPS Wealth Ltd AFSL 254544. To find out more about Tabitha, click here