Unblocking money gridlock: Own the zone

If you're not feeling 100% competent about your finances, you may be experiencing gridlock. Find out how you might think through your money worries.

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It's no mystery why money creates so much anxiety. Everyone is tentative when their "unknowns"outweigh their comfort and competency—when you're not in your zone. Whether you are a computer engineer or an auto mechanic, when you are working in your area of knowledge and competence, you've got very little anxiety and a high degree of confidence. You're performing at your highest level (and enjoying it). But removed from your competence zone, your mastery disappears in a puff of smoke.

If you're not feeling 100% competent about your finances, welcome to money gridlock.

But you don't have to settle for that—why continue living with that level of anxiety?

Our society places financial literacy in a position of low importance and priority. We depend on parents to teach children sound money skills and financial knowledge—yet in too many cases, this is a really bad idea. How many parents are properly equipped or trained to help their children understand issues like delayed gratification, the importance of a budget, financial goal-setting and a clear dissemination between a "need" and a "want"? Were yours?

"My parents grew up poor and they had nothing. They believed in saving—not spending. So I had very little as a child and I don't want MY children to experience the same level of deprivation."

"My daughter's best friends went to Aruba over the winter break; I don't want her to feel bad that she didn't go away too!"

"We needed to join the Country Club—all of our friends were there."

"I didn't really need anything, but the anniversary sale at Nordstrom was just too good to pass up."

These all too common statements are the by-products of confused priorities and lack of sound understanding of money, risk, security and the "how to's" of personal financial management.

Getting beyond the gridlock of confused or broken money beliefs begins with some very serious questions and the recognition that "having it all" in terms of material goods might not be a reasonable expectation.

Question 1: What do I really want out of life?
It's about your values, not things.

Question 2: Do I have sufficient knowledge to navigate appropriately toward my goals?
If you don't have the knowledge, there are books, resources, and advisors to help.

Question 3: What support do I need to keep me focused on making good decisions?
This is about finding the trigger that keeps you on track rather than becoming a slave to that "oh, well" part of you that caves to the crave. It's like those candies at the grocery store check-out line, carefully placed so they are enticing to just add it to your pile. What keeps you from saying no?

Creating your successful money zone is about gaining control, competence, and confidence in dealing with all the impediments and obstacles thrown in your path. There is a minefield of commercial challenges placed in your way to separate you from your money and your ultimate goals—you cannot Google a product without it showing up on your Facebook page six seconds later. So begin by knowing what you really want. Start learning about money, observing your spending habits, and when you fall prey to the urge to spend on something that isn't 100% in line with your priorities.

If controlling your habits is a real problem, consider teaming up with a therapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—which is basically replacing ineffective or destructive habits with new, more productive ones. As you shift into high gear—making better decisions, living more aligned with your values—you will gain the confidence you need to consistently make decisions that work for you. Before you know it, you will OWN the ZONE!

Topics:
  • Financial Planning
  • Saving and Spending
  • Financial Planning
  • Saving and Spending
  • Financial Planning
  • Saving and Spending
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This article was written by Michael F. Kay from Forbes and was licensed as an article reprint from August 25, 2015. Article copyright 2015 by Forbes.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
The third-party provider of the reprint permission and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and not legally affiliated.
The images, graphs, tools, and videos are for illustrative purposes only.
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