Financial Therapy

Do You Experience Financial Stress?

Are you living paycheck to paycheck—frustrated by your inability to increase your income? Do you get to the end of the month and have no idea where your money went? Do you struggle to keep up with your bills or have nothing left for savings or retirement?

Conversely, are you financially successful and meeting your money goals, but find yourself anxious and scared that you could lose it all? Does that fear cause you to experience a loss of balance in your life, where you're working far too much and obsessively thinking about money out of fear of financial failure?

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If you are having financial troubles, you are likely feeling chronic anxiety or stress about money. You may feel indifferent toward money, value it or tend to be avoidant of it. You could have issues with spending too much—or even too little. It may be that you are spending compulsively or to fulfill a purpose you don’t understand.

At this point, you may be feeling out of control—even to the point that it's affecting practically every area of your life, especially your relationships. Would you like to learn how to develop a natural and intuitive relationship with money and spending through financial therapy?

Financial Stress Affects Many People

No two people have the same relationship with money and spending. What so many have in common is that behaviors and beliefs around finances tend to be influenced by parents, what economic class one grew up in, what was witnessed in the context of money, and financial fluency based on upbringing. Most of us grew up, even if in a largely high-functioning family system, with some sense of incongruence regarding spending between our parents. Everyone is influenced differently by such observations, and few are unaffected.

Furthermore, if you grew up with neglect, deprivation, and trauma, it's not uncommon to develop a strange logic around spending. Deprivation in childhood can cause a reactive response in adulthood, manifesting generally as either over-spending or under-spending as way to self-soothe or avoid feeling an ingrained sense of deprivation carried over from childhood.

These difficulties can lead to anxiety and even hopelessness if it becomes a recurrent problem. If you are in a relationship, finances can be one of the biggest sources of stress and conflict your partnership can encounter. Just know that you are not alone––whether in your negative feelings, self-sabotaging behaviors, compulsive spending or under-spending.

Another common occurrence is that people who spend money excessively or under-spend compulsively often self-soothe in other ways. This self-soothing can look like other addictions, such as over-eating/under-eating, sex, internet, etc. It's worth looking at whether you spend in an addictive manner, along with other addictive behaviors. If so, this is not unusual, and there is help for these behaviors.

Finding the "right" attitude about how to handle money is subjective, but so many of us are on a spectrum where we are considered by ourselves, or others, to be too frugal or too much of a spender, among other issues. If the way you handle money is causing challenges that diminish your quality of life, it's important to address it.

Financial planning is a wonderful thing, but often getting to the emotional, developmental root with the guidance of a therapist is equally important and necessary.

With Financial Counseling, You Can Find Your Way

I trained and worked with a gifted financial therapy mentor and therapist, Patricia Craven LMFT, for many years. This allowed me to develop my strengths as a financial therapist. With her, I led financial therapy workshops about understanding one’s relationship to money- both internal patterns of beliefs, thoughts and feelings related to money and external patterns of compulsive spending, accruing debt and under-spending. Through this mentorship, I was able to hone my skills. With my guidance, regardless of where you are on the spending continuum, I can help you tease out your psychological and emotional triggers, and the negative outcomes of that triggering.

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In a space of respect, compassion and non-judgement for your financial situation, I will help you determine your beliefs about money, the origins of those beliefs, and what meaning your spending and earning has for you. In addition, I will help you identify how you want to spend your money, prioritize what you value you in your life and create a positive, healthy relationship to money.

With that, if you are trying to have a more compatible relationship around money with your partner, I will help you both figure out how to approach each other with compassion, not judgment. I will guide you as you navigate the differences you have in your approaches to saving, spending, et cetera; and how to harmonize competing needs.

While my approach to therapy has a very emotional component, I also offer practical solutions for better time management or even the pursuit of a new career. As your financial therapist, I will also act as financial counselor and planner. We can get clear on a spending plan, look at your earning potential, whether single or coupled, devise a reasonable budget, and even explore why you might be an underearner when your earning potential is much greater. While that is a practical exploration, there can be many emotional reasons you are denying yourself the opportunity to earn more.

In order to explore some of those factors, in addition to talk therapy, I may apply somatic therapy, to help you work through the emotional and practical needs you have. Your needs and reasons why around your financial concerns are likely complex and layered and deserve to be handled with compassion, non-judgment, and respect. That is always my approach as a financial therapist: to ensure that you can shed any feelings of shame or embarrassment around your perceived mistakes as an earner and spender.

It's not my role to hold a view of what's most universally appropriate for spending. It's different for everyone. I am here to hold space while you get to the bottom of your issues and concerns, and find ways to spend that are right for you. And as the case may be, your partner as well so you're on the same team, with compatible goals.

You May Have Concerns About Seeking Help For Spending Issues…

I'm so embarrassed that I had to file for bankruptcy [or some other source of financial shame] and I can't bear to be judged.

Some of the most successful people had to lose everything and learn from that loss to figure out how to develop a better sense of how to handle finances. And yes, many success stories have included a bankruptcy or other loss along the way. My job is to help you course-correct, with zero shame.

Isn't bad spending a matter of opinion? My partner wants me to fix my spending behavior but I think s/he has spending issues too. We have money problems but it seems like there's finger pointing in both directions.

Again, in my practice there is no judgment, only focus on solutions in a compassionate light. I will encourage honest disclosure of spending to get to the root of your conflict, and discourage vagueness in your description of your spending, which only leads to more conflict. However, I will teach you to not be judgmental towards yourself or each other as you make discoveries and find solutions.

I have no idea what I make or spend; I only know that I am broke and worried all the time.

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It will be my role in therapy to help you set goals that you stick to. It's best that we devise ways you can track your earning and spending over at least three months. Until we are able to do that, we cannot get completely clear on a spending plan or gain a solid understanding of our reasons for difficulty. Luckily, I have effective strategies to help you gain insight, solid data, and lose the vagueness you've had around your spending behaviors.

Financial Therapy Can Give You A New Lease On Life

Even if this has felt like a hopeless, multigenerational cycle—even if you think you and your partner will never see eye to eye on saving for your future—there is hope and help. To schedule a free phone consultation, contact me at 510-575-0780 or at kellykennardmft@gmail.com. I look forward to working with you as you begin to make sense of your money issues.