“But Where Do I Even Begin?”
Money Anxiety. As an accountant who works with clients, I hear about it! The good news is that there is hope!
We all have our strengths and … we all have areas that are struggles. My strength: accounting for money. My struggles: several. But, for sure, business networking — when you have to walk in to a room with 20 people you don’t know — is not in my comfort zone.
But, if taking care of your money is not your strength, let’s get started.
1. Commit to Doing One Thing
Years ago, I took a management course and one topic was time management. And to this day I remember we discussed Alan Lakein and time management using the “Swiss Cheese Method”.
The concept is that as we get overwhelmed with a new goal or giant task, instead of doing nothing because we are overwhelmed, we instead should start doing SOMETHING. We chip away at the project. If we have 10 minutes . . . fine. If we have an hour . . . great. The point is to chip away, stay focused, and create “holes” in the giant task like the holes in Swiss Cheese.
The good news is that we either create enough holes so the project is done or the project is more manageable!
I have used this approach throughout my career and personal life. Little did I know that all these years later, Alan Lakein is still influencing me.
How does this apply to you and money? Make a goal. Yes, money goals can be daunting, but make a goal and start chipping away at it.
2. Money Anxiety: 1st Goal
I’ve been in the accounting profession for years, so, I have had more than my fair share of money talks with clients. I get the questions:
- “My business is doing great, so why don’t I have more cash?”
- “This is exhaustive, how do I figure out what expenses to cut?”
- “So where do I start?” or ” What could be my first goal?”
Many times, as you think through money anxiety, I suggest the first goal be: figure out what is going on right now.
Start tracking you financial information. Before you can figure out what you need to do, you need to figure out what you are doing.
3. Track Money
You may say “I have a tax accountant who does my taxes at the end of the year and I still don’t understand my money situation”. Or, “Fine, I’ll take a QuickBooks class for a day”. Or, “My friend does bookkeeping, maybe she can come over and set something up for me”.
Here are some tips to help you get started with the goal to track your numbers.
If you choose to go to your tax accountant, TELL them you need guidance BEFORE year end. They may help or they may not — but even if they don’t set up accounting systems and get in the weeds with you to help you track your numbers, they should be able to refer you to an accountant who does.
Pause. I don’t think this is the best way to start unless you have accounting experience. Going in cold to a quick software class can lead to more frustration. Instead, go to your tax accountant or a small business accountant and get help. Let the accounting pro configure the software at the front-end and create an accounting system. Then, if you want to do some of the bookkeeping, take a class.
Be cautious. Ask their experience. I’ve reviewed work of other bookkeepers and accountants. Some were great. But, I have also seen work that was beyond questionable and at times a disaster. So, make sure the friend has accounting experience.
4. Get Started
Money Anxiety is overwhelming. I’ve seen the pain clients had when they first came to me. I’ve seen clients have issues in business and in their personal life.
Getting over money anxiety starts with a commitment to track your money. A great way is to go to a small business accountant or a tax accountant and ask for guidance. Small businesses need an accountant because knowing your numbers can make the difference between having more successes or more problems.
The same thing applies in your personal life: if you have anxiety, talk to an accountant and get help.
What can an accountant do? Create an accounting system to track your money. Set-up is key.
Then once an accountant helps you get started, you can decided if you want them to do more of the work for you or if you want to jump in and do some of the work.
Once you have a system to track your information, you can then move on to setting goals.
Information is powerful. Track your Money.
Join me in the next post to dig deeper with some tips to reduce Money Anxiety.