Has the holiday season bust your budget? Or has financial stress been plaguing you a fair bit longer than that? Either way, most of us have financial stress in one form or another.

Because money worry in the pit of your stomach is the last thing you need to start this decade with, and because it will happen to all of us, there are three things you need to know to help get you out of financial stress.

Wealth is a series of decisions we make throughout the day, and all these tiny decisions compound over time, and we ‘wake up’ at 65 wealthy or poor. There is a way out…

Show Notes

The three steps to getting out of financial stress are:

  1. [06.00] Know your two ‘whys’.
    • Why are you in this position in the first place? (The ‘good’ reason vs the REAL reason)
    • Why is it important to get through this period of financial stress? (Be clear on your values!)
  2. [15.39] Know that there is almost always a way out.
    • Quick action you can take NOW: brainstorm a minimum of 20 solutions to your stress. This will get you into solutions mode. (This exercise requires EXTREME clarity, so be brutally honest with yourself) And then, be prepared to deeply engage with those options.
  3. [22.26] Know this one simple truth – it all comes down to an equation: you’re either going to have to earn more or spend less…

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Related links

Thrive Global – Three steps to feel in control of your financial stress

Related posts and episodes

Quotes from this episode

“What you focus on will get done” – Lisa Linfield

“It’s really important that we be honest with ourselves about how we spend our money, and those real reasons are worlds away from the good reasons that we tell ourselves. And until we get to those real reasons, we will never be able to change our pathway.” – Lisa Linfield

“That’s what it takes, from a financial perspective, to get back on track. It takes really cutting back.” – Lisa Linfield

“If your ‘whys’ are focused on the people you love most, you are more likely to be able to achieve the objective.” – Lisa Linfield

“There is a leaking energy hole in us when we know that our money’s not in order.” – Lisa Linfield

“Health teaches us so much about money, because every single day you’re not worrying about your health, it slips away.” – Lisa Linfield


Lisa Linfield:                       00:00                     Welcome to Working Women’s Wealth, where we discuss what it takes to build real wealth in a way normal humans can understand. Here’s your host, Lisa Infield. Hello everybody and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. And welcome back to this first solo of the new year. Goodness, I can’t believe it’s the first year of a new decade. And I’d really wish for all of you that this is going to be the decade, the great decade of our lives. That when we look back, we think, “Shoo, I’m so glad this decade was way better than the last.”

Lisa Linfield:                       00:50                     I don’t know about you, but the last 10 years have been pretty hairy. It’s been a time of massive personal growth, but quite a lot of difficult things. I’m actually really looking forward to this next decade. I have hope, and when we have hope, we can do anything. Today we’re going to kick off a period of podcasts on money. The next few months we’re going to focus on money probably for the next three months. And I have some truly wonderful guests lined up and I really think that you’ll love them.

Lisa Linfield:                       01:21                     Our rhythm usually is that this first quarter focuses on money. I want to just let us breathe in terms of the fact that many of us have returned back from the holiday season. And maybe it’s also the back to school season, especially if you are listeners in Australia and South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. But for many, one returns back with a happy heart, but many financial worries. And especially if you’re an entrepreneur and your income’s taken a hit over this festive season. And I know for many, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, they’re almost triple whammy of holidays. Yes, expenses because of Christmas presents and family and things like that, as well as no income and back to school that requires all the costs that are associated with it give us a huge amount of financial stress.

Lisa Linfield:                       02:14                     Although we’re getting busy for the new year, at the back of our mind and in the pit of our stomach is a worry about money that we may not have. I wanted us to just pause and for me to give you some thoughts and some steps towards financial stress and alleviating it. It’s based on an article I did for Thrive Global, Arianna Huffing ton’s new platform. You can read the original article in the link in the show notes on workingwomenswealth.com, but I thought I’d just go through it here to give you a sense of some ways to deal with this stress. The problem is it takes time for money to flow and for data to work out the system.

Lisa Linfield:                       02:56                     And we’ve just got to live with that time. But when it comes to financial stress and when it comes to anything finances, I always think that there’s such a similarity between health and wealth. And there’s a definition of health that I absolutely love and it is that health is the absence of worry or stress about your body’s current or future state. Let’s pause about this. The absence of worry. I know that the very few times in my life when I’ve been totally comfortable with my body and I haven’t had to worry about what I’m eating or anything, is when I’m just on a natural routine of eating healthily, of exercising, and I don’t actually think about it.

Lisa Linfield:                       03:39                     When that worry is at the back of your head, it creates a sense of stress. And wealth is very similar. I always say that you’re in a good wealth position when it’s not at the back of your head worrying. You’re in a good health position when it’s not at the back of your head worrying, and you’re in a good spiritual space or relational space when it’s not at the back of your head worrying. When you’re not thinking, “Oh goodness, I haven’t seen my friends in ages, they’re all going to hate me.”

Lisa Linfield:                       04:06                     Any of those things for it to be in a position where it’s not a worry in the back of our heads, we have to really take steps and actively make sure that we manage all the facets of our lives. And money is no different. Like everything else, it is a daily effort and when we let these things go, particularly over the vacation period, I know for me I ate far too much and drank far too much. When we let these things go, they become a worry in the back of our heads. Most of us have some form of financial stress and if there are periods when you’ve let it go and life happens, that’s okay.

Lisa Linfield:                       04:47                     But if we happen to have let it go on the background of financial stress, that worry becomes even more. I know for me that I had come into the Christmas period from a health perspective on a really bad week having had some surgery in August that kicked me back. But also I wasn’t doing the major things that I needed to do to keep my health in check.

Lisa Linfield:                       05:05                     I was a little pudgy when I got to the Christmas spirit and then Christmas on top of all of that and all that food and family and I went to the river. All of the sundowners with the G and T’s and snacks and things like that meant that around just after Christmas, I couldn’t even fit into my shorts and I was going into that mode I think that we all know about which is leggings. When we all hit the leggings mode, which means that I’m in deep trouble.

Lisa Linfield:                       05:32                     Fortunately I’m not back into my shorts, but that’s what happens when we hit this holiday period on top of financial stress. Is that we come out in January with major stress in our lives and major concerns as to how are we going to pay this school terms fees and how are we going to get out and get back from the financial stress of the holiday? The three things that you need to really focus on that’ll help you through financial stress. The first one is to know your two whys.

Lisa Linfield:                       06:05                     The first why that we really need to think about is why are you in this position in the first place? Is it like in my health instance, just this Christmas period? Or have you actually let go of everything for a long period of time? Have you not spent the time to focus on it? And what you focus on will get done. And unfortunately your wealth is exactly like your health. It’s something you have to focus on every single day. I’m in the final stages of editing my book. And one of the things I keep talking about is this difference between good reasons and real reasons.

Lisa Linfield:                       06:40                     And whilst we live life with good reasons that we kid ourselves with, we will never be able to make a change. You can only shift your current reality if you are brutally honest with yourself as to what is happening and why you’re in that position. And there’s a thing that I love just because it’s a fun and humorous thing, which is the four whiskeys and a Heineken taste, which I’ve talked about before. Which is essentially four whys and a half. And those whys and a half, it’s not a strict formula, but it’s essentially about saying you’ve got to keep asking yourself, and why and why and why, until you get to the real reason as to why you’re in this mess.

Lisa Linfield:                       07:23                     I’m going to give you a really accessible example. Let’s say that the answer to why you’re in the streets is because you have just bought a new car and those monthly payments you thought you could afford but you actually can’t. My example would say, “Why am I in the street? I bought a new car.” Then we would say, “Why?” And I’d say, “Because my old one died, so I needed a new car. But why did you need a new car? Well, because it was going cheaply. So how did you really get suckered into the fact that the new car was the right way forward and not a secondhand car? Well, the sales man told me that the offer would only be available today. And why else? Because it’s so beautiful and I’ve always wanted a brand new one.”

Lisa Linfield:                       08:11                     “Why? Because you grew up with nothing and I just wanted what everybody else had. Everybody else had nice new cars. Everybody else had a car and now I want to show those people back home that I made it. So I bought a new car.” Now that answer is extremely different from, “I bought a new car.” That’s a good reason. The good reason is you’re in financial trouble because you bought a new car. The real reason is you bought a new car because you wanted to show off that you had made it. And then you really get the right material to start having a conversation with your bath through this year.

Lisa Linfield:                       08:49                     “Does it really make me feel beta? Does it really give me the benefit?” Now when it comes to cars, I’ve always said that I’m the luckiest human in the world, that aren’t a big issue for me. And I truly appreciate that for some people there are. But you need to really be honest with yourself as to whether it gives you that sense of satisfaction. Let’s take this holiday season. If you have overspent this holiday, it isn’t always as simple as, “Well, because I had all the family over and I had to pay for everything.” Ask yourself, “Why didn’t I hold my family accountable for bringing one or two of the dishes? Why do I feel that I have to provide everything for the family? Why did I overspend on Christmas presets?”

Lisa Linfield:                       09:36                     In my case to be honest, it’s usually because I’m not prepared. Because I’m shopping at the very last minute and because it’s the last minute, I have to get things that are probably more expensive, that if I’d done shopping earlier and I wasn’t under so much stress, I could have found a lot cheaper options. But if I’ve got three hours to shop and something is in front of me, I’ll buy it because I can’t spend that time going around in the shops. It’s really important that we be honest with ourselves in terms of how we spend our money.

Lisa Linfield:                       10:06                     And those real reasons are worlds away from the good reasons that we tell ourselves and until we get to those real reasons, we will never be able to change our pathway. And when it comes to money, there are so many times that those real reasons sit in the field of our self identity. And that’s a topic for another day, but I truly want to make sure that we all start this year with a thought in the back of our head that will germinate over time. Which is why rarely do I spend the money I spend in the way that I spend it? Because one of the things that I’ve become clear, is that clients don’t like it when I say, “Your money shows what you really value.”

Lisa Linfield:                       10:52                     If you spend your money on time with your family, it’ll show that you value your family. If you spend your money on new cars and things like that, it will show that you value the status above your family, for example. And these are difficult conversations and these are not things that I can get into in a short period of time because I don’t know your circumstances, but I do know that if you journal, if you take the time to write through and go through this in great detail, it will provide wonderful insights that will really help get you onto the right footing.

Lisa Linfield:                       11:25                     The second way that you need to ask under the section of know your whys is why is it important to get through this period of financial stress so that you can begin to live your big why. The why of your life, your vision for your best life. And that’s important because to get out of a period of financial stress, especially if you’re in date or you’ve had to dig into savings or things like that, requires you to tighten your belt. It’s a bit like if you’re Lisa and you want to fit back into your shorts, it requires like a week or two of really seriously not having any gin and tonics and having no extra ice cream and no extra chocolate.

Lisa Linfield:                       12:04                     That’s what it takes from a financial perspective to get back on track. It takes really cutting back. So it’s really important that you understand this big why. And again, you need to differentiate between good reasons and real reasons and to really dig deep on your values. Because if you have those cheesy statements in your head of, “Well, I want to get back on financial check because it’s good for my future and it’s good for my retirement,” it’s not going to be motivating enough. The fact that I can’t drop my button, that’s a motivation enough. I can’t lie to myself when I can’t drop my button.

Lisa Linfield:                       12:39                     But when we look about things like longterm savings, it’s so easy for us to say, “Well, I dipped into my savings because I didn’t have enough money and it’s okay, I’ll make it up some time over the next 40 years.” The challenge about that is it doesn’t work that way. Often we don’t make it up and secondly, a bit like what happens with the scale, each year we put ourselves further and further back. Have a very clear view on what your values are and why you are going to need to be disciplined about getting yourself back on financial track. And if you’re stuck in date, sometimes that’s quite easy because you just look at how much money you’re spending on interest and it’ll wake you up in two seconds.

Lisa Linfield:                       13:18                     And then you can plan all the things that you could do with that interest that you are currently paying the bankers. And I always say if you’re paying interest, you’re paying for the bankers to go on holiday, not you. And if it is that you just ducked into your savings, then really be clear on your values. And the one thing I’ve learned is that we’re not that good on sticking to long term commitments for ourselves. I know that the thing that triggered me to get into having a trainer for twice a week fitness is because I was so ill after my twins were born that I could not get up a flight of stairs.

Lisa Linfield:                       13:50                     My why was the fact that I wanted to play with my children and my grandchildren and all of that. If your whys are focused on the people you love most, you are more likely to be able to achieve the objective. And the why that I often say to my wealth management clients is your why has to be that you will not be dependent on your children in your later years. Because the minute you go, “Oh, so that we can have a nice retirement,” then that extra little bit of money that you took out, well it’s not going to make a difference. But it does make a difference.

Lisa Linfield:                       14:24                     The difference could be the difference between you being able to rely on your own self for your old age or you being reliant on your children. And as I always say, one of my hardest conversations with a client was around saying to her, “Your daughter does not have the money to support you.” If you do not make a change in how much money you’re drawing now, your daughter will have to choose between giving her children a good education and feeding you. And she will not let you die so she will take the choice of feeding you, but your grandchildren will not get a good education.

Lisa Linfield:                       14:57                     That why was big enough for them to make major changes in their life. And I think that all of us need to be very clear on the real reasons why it is important for us all to make sure that we are getting our life financially on track. The one thing I do know is that there is a leaking energy hole in us when we know that our money is not in order. When we know deep in our soul, the brutal truth and our soul knows the brutal truth of whether you have enough money or not. It might not know exactly. But on the extreme sides of the coin, it will know if you’ve got absolutely no money for retirement, that this thing’s a train that’s going to smack you at some stage.

Lisa Linfield:                       15:40                     The second step to getting rid of your financial stress is to know that there is almost always a way out. In fact, I think there is always a way out. Sometimes it’s very hard, but here again, I can’t stress to you enough. I literally have spent a few times this last week in conversations with people where I think we’re all excellent at not facing reality, at making excuses as to why we’re in the situation we are and I can promise you the only way forward is to be brutally honest with yourself. If you have a financial stress in your life for any reason, I’d like you to brainstorm a minimum of 20 solutions to your stress even if they were out there and wacky.

Lisa Linfield:                       16:25                     One of the great things of brainstorming and brainstorming without rules allows your brain to just freewill, and it will make connections that might come up with a brilliant plan for you. But if you at least force yourself to get down 20 options to helping you relieve your financial stress. It then will set you up for being in solutions mode as to how to find an answer. It triggers this thing called option thinking and there’s this piece of your brain that’s called the reticular activating system. And its job is to scan your world for options. If you take yourself right back to the time of our ancient selves, when you were hungry, your brain would be scanning and it scans multiple times in any minute for food.

Lisa Linfield:                       17:19                     And it would come up with weird and wacky solutions if it’s absolutely clear that you wanted food. And trust me, when you’re hungry, your brain is absolutely clear. The most important thing that it is set up to do is to search for ways out of threat. And financial stress is a huge threat to our ability to provide for ourselves and to protect ourselves and our family. If you allow it, it will seek out options as to how you can get yourself out of this. And the most important thing about the reticular activating system is that it needs extreme clarity on what it’s looking for.

Lisa Linfield:                       18:04                     You can’t trigger this option thinking dynamic piece of your brain if you are kidding yourself about what your situation is and what your position is. If you are deeply honest and you feel deeply under threat from finances, it is absolutely the best way for you to truly engage with what your options are. The example that is very common when people talk about the reticular activating system is that thing of when you decide you’re going to buy a yellow Volkswagen beetle. Your brain will find yellow Volkswagen beetles everywhere. Why? Because you’ve clearly defined what you want.

Lisa Linfield:                       18:44                     And if you had any fall pregnant, you will find pregnant women everywhere. I know that now that I’m very far away from being pregnant, I don’t even notice a pregnant woman. Yeah, she might just come into my frame of reference. But because my brain is not focusing on pregnancy at all, it’s not seeking out that staff. And this opportunity for you to really seek out opportunities to make more money or to save more expenses or to find options to get you out of financial stress requires you to be deeply focused at the real reasons and the real options. And when you are, trust me, conversations will appear. Things will appear that really open up that ability to make the right decisions to get you out of stress. The hardest choices are often when we can’t unwind our decisions.

Lisa Linfield:                       19:37                     For example, that car that you bought, you might not be able to sell it again because you might just come under so much financial stress or a house that you bought. And again, I also think that you need to go into and really discuss these options. Because it might be true that you would lose a lot of money or things would be difficult, but they might also be an option where actually if you really are truly honest, it will help you out of this short term financial stress and it will open up new ways forward.

Lisa Linfield:                       20:08                     One of the things I find about people is they think that if they get this next car, it’ll make them feel better or this bigger house, it’ll make them feel better. But in actual fact they get that, and it doesn’t give them the joy. I call it short term hits of happiness in my book and there are short term hits of happiness. The problem about them is that within a few months or years when it comes to a house, you keep thinking about the next one that you’re going to get. Because somehow you think that next house is going to be better.

Lisa Linfield:                       20:34                     I know for me, if I could unwind my life, I would not have bought the house that I have now. A bigger house leads to bigger issues and we did look at selling it at one stage and unfortunately at that point in time, the amount of money that we would lose because the housing market has very much dropped in South Africa. The amount of money we would lose was not worth it from a monthly payments perspective. But I know of people who have sold that car that they’ve wanted for a long time. Because if they are truly honest with themselves, it hasn’t bought them the joy that they thought it would buy.

Lisa Linfield:                       21:07                     But it comes with a higher insurance cost, a higher petrol or gas cost and a high maintenance cost. And all of those costs can be lowered if we can find a different car. Be clear with your why. Why are you in the position you are and what are the options that there are in order to get yourself back on track. And don’t put anything off the table. Really consider everything from downsizing, to getting a second job, to cutting expenses. And even if you found yourself in a situation, for example like that your children go to very expensive schools, maybe there’s a real option that your children go to less expensive schools, which gives you more chance to live a happier, less stressful life with them.

Lisa Linfield:                       21:54                     And I know that we all prize and put first and foremost the things to do with our children. But often I look at people and I think, I wonder if your whole family is really getting the full benefit of the education that you’re giving them because you’re so stressed to be able to give them this education that potentially there’s an almost as good school for a lot less money that will enable you a bit more freedom. Because there are many things that make our children successful and we need to listen to our soul and what the right thing for your family is.

Lisa Linfield:                       22:27                     Thirdly, know this one simple truth. It all comes down to one equation. You either are going to need to earn more or spend less. Your financial situation directly relates to those two things. And as much as we can justify how much we spend or how little we earn or any of that kind of stuff, there comes a point in time where the financial stress that you’ve been under and the pressure that is putting on your life might not be worth the expenses that you have or might require you to actually get a different job.

Lisa Linfield:                       23:05                     And I see it often in the sense of people who do helping professions that they don’t make a lot of money in or who love autistic things that don’t make them a lot of money. There’s a point at which you might have to say, “Okay, I need to make my artistic thing my side hustle and get a job, a 9:00 to 5:00, if that’s what it takes.” Or that I need to make sure that whilst I love teaching at a nice university that doesn’t make me enough money, you might need to for a period of time, go and teach adults in corporate world in order to make more money.

Lisa Linfield:                       23:37                     There truly is a simple truth that if you cannot catch your expenses, you have to make more income. And for me personally, I always believe that there’s too much focus on saving expenses, on saving that cappuccino or saving that one treat that you have. I think there should be way more emphasis on making more money. Because from what I’ve seen in many people’s lives, they’re not spending a cent on the cappuccino. All of their money’s going to their children and paying transport costs and medical costs and food costs for them and their families. And they’re not sitting swinging from the chandeliers with spare money.

Lisa Linfield:                       24:13                     When I look at most people’s lives, it truly comes down to the fact that they’re not earning enough income. And if they cannot come up with the conclusion that they need to downsize their life, buy a smaller house, send the kids to a less expensive school, move to a cheaper neighborhood, all of that stuff. Then there is only one other option, which is make more money. Because unfortunately, that equation doesn’t [pain 00:24:37] for anyone. And it’s the same as your health.

Lisa Linfield:                       24:40                     If you are unable to exercise enough to justify the amount of calories that you’re eating, you then are going to need to cut back what you eat. And really these are just pure simple equations that you cannot allow it just to be without dealing with the situation. You will only find yourself in a worse and worse position. And again, that’s why I love the analogy of health as health teaches us so much about money because every single day you are not worrying about your health. It slips away.

Lisa Linfield:                       25:14                     Every single year at the beginning of each new year, kyle, my trainer does away and it’s brutal because you’ve just come back from the Christmas period. And this year was better than last year. I had started earlier to get back on track. I’m three weeks in rather than being straight away. But one of the interesting things is that I saw my stats for two years ago and somehow between 2017 and 2018, I put on an enormous amount of weight and I’ve never got back to where I was in 2017.

Lisa Linfield:                       25:42                     And it’s such an interesting thing because I think I had not been as brutally honest with myself about how much weight I had put on. It had just become my new normal and this was a new way to live. And it slapped me in the face. All of it comes down to, you need to make sure that you’re very clear about your current reality. Because you cannot change your future path unless you know it and are very clear about where you’re starting. When this storm passes of financial stress, I want you to commit to everyday financial health practices for really getting clear on that equation of income minus expenses.

Lisa Linfield:                       26:19                     And to help you out, I do have some great cheat sheets for you on my website workingwomenswealth.com/resources. Because there are four great downloads there. There’s one that will help you if you’re in debt, a cheat sheet as to work out how to start getting rid of your debt, or there’s a worksheet called the one thing, which will help you narrow down exactly what you need to focus on next. Because one of the things I have found out is if you’re trying to focus on too many things, you never get anything done.

Lisa Linfield:                       26:48                     Then there two other worksheets for those that want to start investing and wanting to find out a little bit more. There’s a worksheet on that and there’s also a download on the 16 things you need to have financial peace of mind. If you’re not in debt and you are investing, there might be other things that you actually don’t even know you need such as a will or whatever it is, but these worksheets are so helpful.

Lisa Linfield:                       27:09                     I really suggest you go on over to the website workingwomenswealth.com/resources and you download some of those sheets that’ll help you get over the financial stress. Join us next week for a really interesting interview with London-based financial advisor to women, Mary Waring. I’m Lisa Infield and this is Working Women’s Wealth. Take care and have a great week.