Financial Gremlins

Kay Kramer, CFP®
Mar 14, 2018 10:42:00 AM

financial gremlinsOne of the first things I often ask clients is if they have any financial gremlins. What are financial gremlins? They are messages about money that can haunt anyone and can inform their financial decisions, keep them from doing something, or cause anxiety. I usually ask if they feel like there is a little gremlin that sits on their shoulder creating fear in them about their financial situation.

Here are some things that I’ve heard over the years from clients:

Oh, I keep hearing my deceased husband’s voice saying…you shouldn’t spend money that way, or don’t spoil the kids or grandkids, or you should be able to do that yourself, don’t spend money on getting help. Or, it’s okay to spend money on yourself, you deserve it.

My mother’s voice echoes in my head…you need to find someone who will provide for you, you made a bad choice, you shouldn’t spend money on yourself. Or, why not buy that item, you only live once! You work hard, of course you should spend that money.

If only I had…you pick the ending as there are countless ones!!! Started saving earlier, not gotten out of the market, not invested in the market, not loaned money to my sibling, not gotten into debt, and so it continues.

We all have these money messages, conscious or not. As a financial advisor, I think it’s important to address money messages and how they inform how one thinks or feels emotionally about financial matters. In many cases, negative money messages end up paralyzing clients because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. They ultimately make no decision or a decision is made quickly without full understanding for fear of looking foolish.

The good news is most financial gremlins can be managed. If overspending is an issue, one can avoid shopping, cut up credit cards or a trusted spouse or friend can provide accountability for purchases over a certain dollar amount.

Another way to manage a gremlin is through a financial advisor. I often have said that in our profession we wear many hats including professional nag, cheerleader and coach. Creating a financial plan can help you figure out which fears are warranted and what strategies might be used to manage them. Together we can discover what fears are not warranted and work on a strategy to put them to rest.

Many people’s gremlins are simply wrong. They can be a fear which is often based on emotions and not any real facts. 

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