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Are You Actually Ready for a Money Breakthrough? Navigating the 5 Stages of Change

Updated: Apr 7

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"According to one recent study, 79% of Americans believe they will be happier if they had more money." (Forbes, 2022). Is that how you feel too? That life would just be better all-around if you had more money. Now I could come here and talk to you about the rest of that Forbes article or other articles that caution on the pitfalls of chasing money. I could share with you how research shows that after we make enough money to pay our bills and save for the future, making more does little for our happiness. But tell that to a starving man right? Tell a starving man or woman or child that a little goes a long way and that overindulging is actually bad for them. Sounds insensitive. I won't insult you in that manner. When a person is struggling financially, I mean really truly struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they need or want to hear from a person who has not walked a mile in their shoes is that money will not make them happy. Their life is an amalgam of stress and unhappiness because they don't have money. What do you mean that money won't make them happy?

It is with these thoughts in mind that the theme for this new year was, "New Year, New Wallet." That article was a nod to the fact that times are hard, inflation is high, and a little more money could go a long way. It is in that article that I introduced to you some possible ways to earn a little more change this year. After all, pennies makes dollars and dollars makes sense. Money may not bring happiness or fix all of our problems, but money helps fix financial problems. So, I then followed up with a challenge through our second article of the year, "The 52 Week Money Challenge: Your Pathway to New Year, New Wallet," in which I presented to you a system, a S.M.A.R.T. goal plan to help you organize your savings for the year. Now to the questions. Have you started saving yet? Did you sign up for any opportunities that would help put a little extra in your pockets so that you could start saving? Why not? Because if the answer is yes, I read the article but no I haven't started yet then I ask must you the question: You say yes, but are you actually ready for a money breakthrough?

Scroll any social media platform at the soon to be turn of the year, you will find a sort of "new year, new me" mania. People pledge who and what they are cutting off and cutting out of their lives. People vow to engage in all of these healthier habits. Each and every year. We all get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of the festivities full of hope and renewal. And yet each and every year, within 2 to 3 months, all of those pledges and promises to themselves are out of the window. In fact, according to U.S News and World Report article: Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail, "The failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be an estimated 80% with most people losing their resolve and motivation just weeks later in mid-February.

The thing is, there is a reason why so many New Year's Resolutions fail. There is a whole psychology behind it actually. And that psychology transfers to any and all changes in life that we think we want to make. All the changes and level ups that we say we are ready for but we actually are not ready. And because of it, we will hit the wall so to speak. It's why you did not sign up for any of the offers. It's why you haven't yet put away $1 or $2 for the #SoFi52WeekMoneyChallenge. It's why you have been immobile. For those of you who have managed to sign up and get started, it's why if you aren't careful and strategic, you won't continue the journey after a couple of months.

Change is good." ~Rafiki

You know, life throws changes at us all the time – it's just part of the deal. Some changes are painful. Others not so much. Whether you're thinking about getting healthier, diving into a new career, or leveling up your relationships, you go through this journey of ups and downs. No matter if the change is good or bad, we as individuals undergo a series of psychological and emotional stages known as the "5 Stages of Change." Psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente were among the first to step out this process. Understanding these stages can serve as a roadmap for personal transformation and empowerment in all matters but especially in matters of money which is what we are focusing on.

Stage #1: Pre-contemplation

You can think of this one as sort of an "ignorance is bliss." Or maybe even denial. A person in stage 1 (pre-contemplation) doesn't really believe there is a problem. They may not recognize the negative impact of their current behavior or may be resistant to acknowledging it. When it comes to money matters, this person may be spending down their savings, maxing out their credit cards, impulse buying, or financially enabling friends or family. There is nothing wrong with their financial house, at least in their eyes. Their eyes are closed and the headphones are on. They minimize. They blame. They make excuses. Often it takes something happening to force them to open their eyes so that they can begin moving beyond this initial stage.

Stage #2: Contemplation

Something has grabbed their attention now. And it wasn't a little something either because it has forced them to admit that there may be a problem. They may even begin to see that they can't continue to lay the blame entirely on others. It is here that they can really think seriously about the new information, the new change proposed to them. They are open to gathering more information and learning about possible solutions. They can weigh the pros and cons of their current behavior and contemplate the potential benefits of making a shift. Notice though that I said contemplate the benefits of making the shift. They can acknowledge the overwhelming feeling of credit card debt, but not quite ready to stop swiping. They can acknowledge the nagging fear of not having any savings at all, but not quite ready to stop running up their Afterpay and Klarna accounts. They become ambivalent as they grapple with the fear of the unknown versus the desire for positive transformation. There were those who read both articles of this new year but were not totally sold on whether any of it was worth their time and effort.

Stage #3: Preparation

A decision has been reached. We have now graduated from gathering information about their financial problem to gathering information about appropriate actions to solve the problem. We are ready to focus on the future now, rather than dwelling and wallowing in the past or past failures. The preparation stage involves creating a plan of action. Individuals set realistic goals, gather necessary resources, and establish a supportive environment. Determined. That's the word that comes to mind here. The importance of this stage cannot be understated. It is here in this crucial stage where people find their self-confidence thus making it more likely that they will successfully make those changes happen. But change is not yet.

Stage #4: Action

This is where rubber meets the road. This is where the real change occurs. The one who makes it to the action stage is able to implement and carry through with their plan for change. The person who makes it here is actually actively modifying and changing their behavior. You don't have to remind this person to not spend; they've already cut up their credit cards or removed their credit cards from storage in their Apple, Samsung, or Google wallets. They have removed their debit and credit cards from their Amazon, Shein, and other shopping accounts. They have increased their income flow in order to ratchet up their savings. Whether that be through a second job, getting gig jobs, freelancing, using talents for side hustle, or affiliate marketing. Speaking of affiliate marketing...

Shameless affiliate link plugs: They have signed up for Upside, Swagbucks, PayPal, SoFi Checking and Savings, and SoFi Invest.

The action stage tends to take the most time, commitment, and energy. Lots of willpower here. It's important to celebrate small victories during this phase to maintain motivation. Which brings up our last stage.

Stage #5: Maintenance

Consolidation. Simply put, in the maintenance stage, you're holding onto the progress you made and making sure you don't slip back. Now that isn't to say that relapse can't happen. Falling back into old behaviors is a normal occurrence during the maintenance phase. This is where an accountability partner can be useful in helping you to establish strategies for dealing with potential challenges and reinforcing positive behaviors. Over time, the new behavior becomes more ingrained, and you'll become more confident in your ability to maintain the desired change.

According to the Fed’s 2022 Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households survey released Monday, some 37% of Americans lack enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense, up from 32% in 2021. That means nearly one in four consumers would have to use credit, turn to family, sell assets, or get a loan in order to cover any major unexpected cost. And when asked about non-emergency expenses, 18% of Americans said the largest expense they could cover using only their savings was under $100. (Fortune, 2023)

Change is a process, not an outcome and unfortunately, optimism alone won't result in the change we want. This is why our New Year's Resolutions often fail so miserably. This is why any goal or change we envision sputters out. In order to change a behavior, we have to be uncomfortable and nobody wants to be uncomfortable. I know I don't. However, I see the financial landscape before us. You do as well. I know you do. We cannot afford to continue to be in the group of 90% that is stressing about money; it's too expensive to stay there. We cannot continue to be in the group of 37% of Americans who lack money to cover a $400 emergency expense; it's too expensive to stay there. This is why I implore you to join in the #SoFi52WeekMoneyChallenge. Is this challenge going to be easy? Probably not. Especially if you haven't made saving a habit previously or are in financial strain now. This challenge requires that you step outside your zone of comfort in everything from signing up for my affiliate links to showing bravery and putting your own affiliate links out there on your own social medias. It requires you to take on an extra shift or dive into a gig economy or freelance job.

Change is inevitable. We can sit back and do nothing and just let change happen to us, or we can be strategic and have some change that we can be proud of because we made it happen for ourselves. The 5 Stages of Change model offers a valuable framework for understanding the process of personal transformation. Which stage do you think you stand currently? What do you think it will take to get you to the next level. Feel free to share your thoughts on these two questions in the comments below if you feel comfortable doing so. When we embrace change as a gradual step-by-step process we are more able to approach it with a spirit of resilience and self-compassion which then increases our likelihood of long-term success. But as I have told you week after week, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~Charles Darwin


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2 commenti

Stage 5 is definitely the hardest part for me. Luckily I have an accountability partner that helps reel me back into reality.

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Risposta a

Thank goodness for a great accountability partner!

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