adjective adjective: personal
of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.
noun, noun: development
- a specified state of growth or advancement.
It’s almost a cliché in the sea of social media ads and infomercials. It makes me think of PD days for teachers or language training for that next government promotion. In fact, most definitions of the phrase include an allusion to improving your work skills.
But look at the individual definitions; no mention of work. No mention of categories or limitations on what we can develop. A wide open world of opportunity. Yes, yes, it’s broken down further with personal growth and self-improvement but those are often related to behaviors or mindset. They help us overcomes certain things, right? Life coach type stuff shouted out to us from a Netflix special or an Insta of the latest Rachel Hollis book resting on a set of legs with the beach in the background (guilty!).
In all seriousness, I love personal development. It’s changed my life, my outlook, my productivity, my critical thinking and my career path. I feel strongly it’s just a fancier phrase for lifelong learning, but there’s a huge gap in the plan for so many of us and that gap is Financial Development.
What do I mean? Money. Any and all aspects of money. It’s missing from most curriculum’s, it’s not applied practically in post-secondary, being terrible with it is not only socially acceptable but downright expected, it breaks up marriages, ruins lives, and is supposedly the root of all evil.
So why the heck aren’t we talking about it, let alone incorporating it into our personal development? I honestly don’t know, I’m asking you. Shame? Uncertainty? Avoidance? Feeling like you’re alone in your situation? Money is personal – really one of the most personal things in that no two situations are the same because the variables are just so infinite. We also have this really unfortunate habit of feeling like our self-worth is somehow related to our net-worth and that is just so damn sad.
So where does money fit into the PD world?
Everywhere. It’s so intertwined and connected to the other aspects of personal development and growth that incorporating it can have an exponential effect on everything. I repeat, everything. Trying to get physically healthier? Financial stress is linked to migraines, cardiovascular disease, and insomnia. It’s challenging to make it to the gym if you haven’t slept all night. Want to eat organic whole foods? It can be hard on the pocketbook, especially if you’re feeling flustered about finances. Working on a more positive mindset? Depression and anxiety have a causal relationship with money stress. I mean, even the whole trying to develop work skills to get that promotion is related to money. The raise that comes with that promotion is often the top reason to strive for it.
So what happens when that money stress is gone or your financial development is in progress? All kinds of amazing things. Whether you’re drowning in debt or just unsure how to plan for the future, there’s always something you can be working on in the money world and the peace of mind that comes along with that development is shocking.
One of the easiest things to do: Budget!
One of the easiest things to do, regardless of age or income, is to make a budget every month. Have a variable income? Budget using last month’s income. Budgets are seriously awesome – no joke. They let you prioritize all the things that bring you joy, make sure you pay your bills on time (your credit score thanks you), and eliminate all that useless junk you were spending your hard earned money to buy in your old life. So let’s look at our list again but this time we have a budget. Trying to get physically healthier? Since you made your awesome budget you have one less level of stress in your life and you’re sleeping a little more soundly. You’ve also put four hot yoga classes a month into the roster and you don’t feel even a little guilty about the cost. Want to eat organic whole foods? You meal plan now as part of staying on budget and you’ve really taken the time to learn the tricks and tips. You’re shopping sales, throwing away next to nothing, and your grocery bills are looking good. Working on a more positive mindset? Let me tell you, you need to be disciplined to stick to your awesome budget but because you’re seeing serious positive momentum in this area you don’t mind and it naturally carries over to your mindset about everything. No, I swear it does. Try it. In my experience it’s also pretty good for relationships if you’re both on the same page. I mean, budget meeting date night can be a thing you’re actually excited about.
You probably think I’m going overboard and that I’m a huge finance nerd, but I’m actually not. I like numbers but money isn’t really numbers.
And having a finance background means zero if your behavior around money sucks. Spoiler alert, mine sucked. I used to be embarrassed about that because I knew all the theory about money and interest rates and retirement funds. I also really liked vacations and fancy cars and daily lattes. I mindlessly went out for lunches I didn’t even enjoy because I was too disorganized in the morning to make anything. I then picked up takeout or a pre-made meal at the store on my way home from work. Then I’d wonder why I wasn’t feeling great. Hell hath no fury like a stressed out mama hitting Costco at 5pm before daycare pick up. Sure I had the money in my account but I was squandering it, plus I wasn’t even developing the basics of budgeting. I had no day to day plan, just a retirement plan. I mean, who needs a plan for those other 30 years? Everyone – winging it is not sexy and does you no favors. I say that with love and out of way too much experience.
OK Nicole, I’m on board I’ll give it a go. Eeeek, how exciting (honestly how I feel whenever someone says this to me). I suggest you ease into it so you’re not insanely overwhelmed and quit before you start. Psychology is also a HUGE part of money. Depending where you are in your financial journey, podcasts are always a good starting point. You can listen in the car or while you make dinner. If you’re more of a visual learner, hit up the library where you can borrow some books to suit your needs. Plus of course there’s always my BFF Google. She’s full of templates and visuals and videos for all occasions. Accountability is also a must-have in financial personal development. Find like-minded people wherever you can. We have a great Facebook group called “Save that money, honey” which is very welcoming and full of so much information. Whether you like to engage or just watch from behind the scenes, it’s great for anyone. Really my best advice is to just start. It doesn’t really matter how, it just matters that you do it.
Life is just a ton of baby steps. Baby step, baby step, baby step…then you look behind you and you’ve walked 100 miles. Or maybe saved 100k 😉
Nicole is a mama, partner, jack of all trades, lover of caffeine and sunsets. She holds a BBA from the University of New Brunswick and has specialized in HR and Finance for 15 years. In 2018 she decided to kick debt to the curb through lifestyle changes and being intentional– It worked better than expected and now she helps others do the same!