Guest Post: How I Learned to Stop Feeling Hopeless About Money

Naomi Veak, coach for the Women’s Cohort of Financial Freedom 1. Sign up here

Have you ever thought how different your life could have been if you’d only been able to take someone’s advice? What if I told you it may not be too late?

I recently rediscovered a letter my mother wrote to me when  I was 19, attending a small liberal arts college in another state.


Towards the end of the letter, she told me to save it, so I did-- even though reading it left me angry and frustrated, and not a single word sunk in.

You see, she was giving me financial advice after another tear-filled plea for money.

“Don’t expect your thinking to change overnight,” she wrote. “Give yourself time to feel the inward peace of mind that will eventually come.”

This “inward peace of mind” took me 25 years! How did I finally get here?

I was a poor girl at a rich kid school.

It was a school I couldn’t afford, and I was surrounded by lifestyles I was ashamed that I couldn’t pay for.

This was only the beginning of a long struggle with finances, where the same money scripts (unconscious beliefs about money that can drive our behavior) played themselves out again and again.

I’m on the left-- Spending money I didn’t have on a weekend trip to Seattle, 1994

I’m on the left-- Spending money I didn’t have on a weekend trip to Seattle, 1994

I wanted money; I just couldn’t hold onto it.   

Shortly after college, I became homeless.

One friend after another was put to the test when I crashed on their couch too long.

A year later, I sat on the seat of the truck my boyfriend and I were living in on the cold and rainy Oregon coast, crying as I counted our last handful of change. He later wrote about stealing a sandwich to split with me in a short essay he titled “Desperation and a BLT”.  

Overwhelmed by credit card debt, I made an appointment at a debt settlement company to help me get things under control, only to continue charging to the same account a couple months later.

Later my student loan debt doubled when I returned to school for another degree.

I was unhappy and embarrassed, yet felt powerless. I didn’t connect my financial decisions to the situations I kept finding myself in.

You know what? Hard-working, smart people can do dumb things and it isn’t anyone’s fault.

I started waiting tables when I was 15. I strive to excel at just about everything I do. Being a failure at financial management was incongruous with my self-image, but also somehow felt inevitable.

I’ve had three adult careers so far:

-- Fine dining restaurant server. All my savings disappeared on vacations.

--Taught middle school math. I thought if I worked hard enough at my job, somehow I’d magically be taken care of.

--A position at an education technology company with a bigger salary.  I matched it with bigger spending.

All of this left me with the same net result, and the same underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority from my internalized money scripts-- the ones that kept me living ”money in/money out” no matter how much came in.

I didn’t know another way to do it.

Then the Financial Freedom course came into my life.

A friend recommended the online course to me. As I worked through the self-paced assignments along with a cohort of learners, I felt myself transforming as the fog lifted from my brain.

Many nights I could hardly wait to get dinner dishes cleared up so I could work on the class.

Since taking Financial Freedom,  I’ve completely changed my spending habits, but it feels like I have more, not less.

Within weeks we built up our emergency fund and paid off my husband’s student loan.

When I attended yet another financial advisor presentation at work, I finally understood what she was saying!

And after all those years of shame, I have enough self-compassion to share my financial history with you.

Why couldn’t I have just read a book, or learned some of this on my own?

Since taking Financial Freedom 1 and 2, I’ve started happily working on my financial literacy all the time!

I want to read and take in all this information now, because of the course.

I needed the structure, the accountability, the social aspect of learning, and I needed to start working from the inside-out.

What was my mother trying to tell me all those years ago?

Not long after taking Financial Freedom 1 was when I spotted my mother’s letter in a box of photos.
My eyes moved over her words in disbelief. This is what she was trying to tell me all those years ago? It all made so much sense to me now.

  • Naomi, don’t let yourself lose ground financially. Work with the system. It’s not going to change just because you want it to.

  • The sooner you learn that happiness is not derived from material possessions, but other values, the happier you will be.

  • How often do you think about all you have to be grateful for?

  • Learning a new value system may be one of the most valuable lessons you learn in your college years.

  • Don’t expect your thinking to change overnight. Give yourself time to feel the inward peace of mind that will eventually come…

  • Eventually you will adapt and you will be happier for it.

  • The happiest people make money work for them.

  • Remember money is for a protection.

  • Don’t let material possessions control your life.  

  • You are extremely intelligent and have a determined nature when you think something is important. Use these assets to gain control.

My money scripts aren’t an excuse to continue a destructive behavior pattern.

Now that I understand myself, and have learned an entirely new way of thinking about and behaving with money, I have been able to change.

With my mother on her 70th birthday, 2017

With my mother on her 70th birthday, 2017

My mother was right, of course.

We do have to learn to work with the system, because it won’t change just because we want it to.  

The happiest people make money work for them.  

Learning a new value system is one of the most valuable lessons I’m learning, it just didn’t happen for me 25 years ago.

Now it’s your turn...

Finance has been a “man’s world” for a long time, so I requested to facilitate the first women’s cohort of the course.

I hope you, or other women you care about are able to join me in this first women’s cohort of Financial Freedom 1 so you can start on your own journey .

Sign up here:  

A big component of the class is the discussion, which is where you will share and learn from other women in the class.

This is the course I wish I’d taken before I’d even left my parent’s house!