Yes, I’m known for touting that you don’t need to be a number cruncher to be in a good relationship with your money, which is true. What is also true is that sometimes crunching the numbers actually helps.
When it really helps is when you “make things up”, when you decide that something is true without checking the numbers. We often decide that money stuff is worse than it really is. It’s another one of those places where our little kid brain is running the money. A place where you get stuck, sometimes for years, assuming a situation that just doesn’t add up.
Ironically there are often two almost opposite reasons people shun crunching numbers, both of which are motivated by fear.
One reason is waiting to make a move until something feels uber safe. One example of this is that you can’t quit the “day job” you hate for the “dream job” you love until you have bunches of money saved. The pivot point here is, “How much is a bunch?” What amount will have you feel safe? Hard questions often made harder by not actually crunching the numbers.
For example: recently a client had the idea that she needed $30K in savings before she could make the shift from a job she hates to her budding career in Real Estate: $18K for living expenses and $12K for business expenses. There was a crunching error in here in here that was making her goal seem doubly hard to attain. The real number that she needed for a 6 month “Back-Up Fund” in her situation was $12K for living expenses and $3K for business expenses. Her fear has caused her to push up the living costs and to way over estimate the business costs of the new job. Now she’s going after a number of $15K, which is much more attainable.
Often the other reason to shun the crunching is the “Ostrich Effect”. You know that one, right? The “stick my head in the sand and pretend” idea. This one usually is about overspending. It’s driven by the little kid part of us not wanting to have to “stop playing and do our chores”. This part of the little kid is often coupled with another part: “the monsters under the bed” part—the fear that once the truth is known it will be so awful you will not be able to tolerate it. The truth is that once we know what is really going on we feel better. There is something about knowing what is going on that has us dig in, make plans, and focus on what is really important to us. I’ve seen this happen many times over the years.
What both “seeking safety” and the “ostrich effect” have behind them is fear. Fear that it will be insurmountable—it isn’t. Fear that if you look it will get worse—it doesn’t. Fear that you can’t ever get this money knot untangled—you can.
See, the problem is not actually the money or the number crunching. It the fear. FDR said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Why not see if crunching a few numbers can help you realize what really is possible and set the fear aside?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Need a bit of support around the crunching? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com