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avatar You are viewing an archive of articles by Ginger. Ginger is the curator and owner of the blog, Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, empowering and educating women women about personal finance issues. She is a psychotherapist working with clients for whom money is a frequent topic. You can find Ginger on Business Insider as a contributor with other features on MSNBC, Essence, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America and MSN. Follow Ginger on Facebook or Twitter.

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This is a guest article by Ginger, owner and curator of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds. She works as a psychotherapist with clients with whom money is a frequent topic.

When people think about financial freedom, most tend to think of it as this abstract state of being since it’s something that has yet to be experienced. Often this tends to be the reason why people rarely understand what prevents them from getting to this place in their financial life.

This brings us to the question and discussion of your Achilles’ heel. What prevents you from achieving your financial goals?

Achilles' HeelI often ask friends when talking about money goals, “Do you know what stops you from getting there? Do you want it badly enough?” Sometimes we’re so mired in what makes us comfortable that we can’t see past what it would mean to be successful in this area.

Success doesn’t have to mean paying off all of your debt in one year. It can simply mean taking baby steps to reduce the amount of money you send eating out. Avoiding trips to Target. Reducing mindless shopping habits which only further the raging spending addiction preventing you from seeing into the financial promised land. Those are all my Achilles’ heels, by the way.

How to identify your Achilles’ heel

Where do you most regret the money you spend? My pastor often says a man’s heart is where he spends his money (Luke 12:34). This rings true for me. When reviewing monthly transactions, I often saw where my money was going, as painful as it was to look at plainly in front of me. I kept saying to my self, “I spent what?!” There was a time when visiting Amazon.com and Target meant spending loads of money that I had no business spending.

Other financial transgressions meant spending more than I care to share eating out for no other reason than not wanting to cook that evening or choosing to eat instead of addressing how I was really feeling about a situation that upset me. The question I’d often asking myself is, “How did this help me towards my goals?” It didn’t help, as I had nothing to show for it but an empty plate or an item that I’d soon forget about once it arrived on my doorstep.

One day it all clicked.

This has taken some time. I’ve been writing my blog about money for a few years now. I finally connected how destructive my spending habits were in relation to my stated financial goals. I was sabotaging myself without really understanding why.

This changed with a decision

The same pastor I mentioned above also speaks about how many of the changes we need to make in life start with a decision, one decision to change the behavior and continuing to make that decision to stick with it. This might not — and often doesn’t — feel good, but if we’re to get to where we need to be then yes, it’s necessary.

Divorce yourself from your emotions

The pastor then goes on to tell us about the need to divorce ourselves from our emotions. And again, this rang true for me because shopping was almost like an addiction. I wasn’t shopping for clothes but more so for little things I needed, but if you know Amazon.com, you know it racks up! If I felt the desire to go out and buy something, I did so with no real thought about the connection between the purchase and my goal. I just knew that by buying this this item, it filled some unmet need within me.

In psychology, we talk about food and substance abuse addictions in the same way. The same rings true here, when sabotaging success for a momentary feeling of pleasure or fulfillment that never lasts.

It’s taken me some time to just decide not to visit Amazon.com. That was a huge victory for me since it’s just so convenient. I work a considerable distance from my home so I don’t really have the time go into stores, plus I don’t like shopping on the ground. Amazon Prime makes this really easy for me. If I order by noon, I will usually get my purchase by the next day. The cost? $3.99, or free if I choose the two-day option. As you can see this can get out of hand if you’re not careful. Now I add things to my cart and they stay there for weeks before making the purchase. My rule is to wait at least two weeks after adding something to the cart, and if I forget about it, I don’t need it.

Target is another beast. I won’t speculate about product placement marketing tactics in the store, because whatever they do in there works! I go in, and it never fails that I come out with way more than I need. As a result, I just don’t go there unless I absolutely have to, and these days my trips there are few and far between.

Has it been hard? Yep! But am I getting closer to my goal? Yes, and that feels even better.

Taming your Achilles’ heel will take introspection and honesty while making some hard decisions about how to change your spending habits. Deciding to take this on will be difficult but the results are worth it in the end.

To recap:

  • Identify your “heart,” where you spend most of your money.
  • Decide to change your heart from reckless spending to whatever financial goal you have in mind.
  • Engage in serious introspection about why you spend the way you do. Are there other psychological needs that spending temporarily meets?
  • Divorce yourself from the emotions which enable you to rationalize and accept destructive spending habits.

What is your Achilles’ heel, and how do you plan to tame it? Or have you tamed it?

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Ginger is a fashionista in her late 20s — a wife and graduate student striving to have it all. She wrote this article for Consumerism Commentary, but Ginger also publishes the blog Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, and you can subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed here.

Let me preface this by stating that I am not suggesting that women marry solely for money, I am after all a believer in love and commitment as a solid foundation for marriage. However, I am suggesting that women who marry partners that are financially savvy, motivated by money and have aligned views about their attitudes to money, are indeed smarter than their counterparts who don’t when choosing a life partner. I will detail the benefits of choosing a partner that has a solid financial plan in place and uses money as a tool and not a crutch.

Financially savvy

Women who choose financially savvy partners fare better than their counterparts who don’t. Why? These women know that in order to have a marriage built to last that finances play a huge role in the viability of the marriage. I know it sounds like we’re discussing a corporate merger but bear with me; after all, marriage in some respects is like a business.

1969 Inc., said it best when asked for her insights to marriage,

It’s like running a corporation. A business venture. You have to go into it knowing that it could fail or it could succeed beyond your wildest dreams and make you rich… If the employees don’t share the vision, believe in the vision and work together, the endeavor will fail. Some businesses will get rich. Some will barely make ends meet. Some will never make a dime. The money does not measure success. The sense of accomplishment will come from the daily struggle… the love of what you do, working together day in and day out.

Gold DiggerThe reality is that personal finance issues are the leading cause of divorce and in order to live happily ever after, you must be on the same page as far as your finances are concerned. No, if, ands or buts about it. Capisce?

So what makes these women smarter?

Aligned financial values

When smart women meet a partner, they aren’t wooed by good looks and the smooth talk, after all those come a dime a dozen. These women are looking at how their potential partners spend money. Does he have an emergency fund? Is he current on their monthly bills such as the car payment and rent/mortgage? Does he spend more than he earns? Does he put money aside in his savings account? They’re listening keenly to understand how their potential mates relate to money. Is it a tool? Is it a crutch? They know the difference and conduct business accordingly. Should the potential mate fall into the category of the above mentioned then it’s time to say good-bye. After all, who wants a man who isn’t interested in learning how to manage his money effectively? They are in it for the long haul, not a few cheap dates.

Motivated by money to create the life they want

Smart women are up to date on the latest issues in personal finance. They understand rate chasing, investing for the long haul and understand that while they may have substantial savings, practice and embrace frugality. They look for similar if not the same qualities in their potential mates. Smart women want to be able to relate not only on a romantic level, but also on issues regarding personal finance.

A man with a plan

Who wants a man with no financial plan in place? I certainly don’t. Where does he see himself in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Is he thinking long or short term? That answer will determine the course of the relationship. Ideally he should be able to think past next month’s car payment and project how much he will have in his savings account by year’s end. This an expectation for smart women, not a hope or a dream, but something they demand and require in a potential mate.

Take a few minutes to let it all sink in. Gone are the days when gold diggers were secretly envied because they were able to go for the gusto and stifle high pitched screams during musty sex with a shriveled up oil tycoon. Move over and make way for women who are in control of their financial destinies and not afraid to say it. They are armed with a positive net worth and not afraid to flaunt it.

Are you a smart woman?

Photo: shawnzrossi
If you liked this article, read more from Ginger at Girls Just Wanna Have Funds.

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