Is there a financial bully in your life that makes you miserable? Does he or she have a way of making you feel about 2 inches tall every time the subject of money comes up? I must tell you that I see people like that in my office from time to time. They speak down to their partner and I can’t stand it. Intimidators steam my broccoli. Separating their accounts might be a good start. But it often isn’t enough.
Let’s you and me put a stop to that right now….TODAY. Are you with me? Good. If you follow the 5 steps I’m about to share with you, there is a very good chance that the financial bully in your life is going to stop his or her mistreatment immediately. Let’s get to work.
1. Off the Hook
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that nobody can make you feel bad about yourself unless you allow them to do so. While I still don’t apply this perfectly in my own life, I do understand that it is true.
If you allow somebody to bully you financially it might be because you feel “less than” to some extent. Maybe the other person earns more or has more than you do. Maybe he or she understands how money or investments work better than you do. So what?
That’s no excuse to treat another person poorly. That doesn’t give the other person a Jerk License. Don’t stand for it. If you were in the other person’s shoes, would you treat him like he treats you? Of course not. That’s why it’s no good to stand for his behavior.
And the first most important step in that direction is to let yourself off the hook for not being a financial expert or high roller. And it’s time to reaffirm your greatness. Don’t tolerate anyone who tries to cloud up your unique “terrific – ness”. Rather than feel bad about something you lack (for the moment) get mad as hell that this cave dweller doesn’t cherish the absolute wonderful person you are.
How is the tyrant pushing your buttons? Does he belittle you because you don’t know that much about finances? After you stop accepting his abuse (see step 1) you can remedy that in 20 minutes a day. There is plenty of great information about how money works on the web. Read one good blog a day (can you guess which one?). If you do, you’re understanding and confidence will soar in no time.
And by the way, just because your personal Pharaoh acts like he’s a financial Einstein, he may not know all that much. The good news is, once you become more familiar with the jargon, budgeting and investments, you’ll probably discover that he or she knows a lot less than you thought.
If you want to learn about investing and get your feet wet at the same time, consider a service like Betterment. They are a wonderful resource for beginners They allow you to start your investing career with a very small amount and they help you invest and learn at the same time.
If the issue is earnings and/or assets, don’t despair. In my experience, the persecutor pulls this bad conduct when the other person (you) have little or no income or assets. Remedy this by getting a part-time job and/or start a side business. Believe me, once you start earning your own money, his music will change big time and you’ll take the wind right out of Mr. Bully Boy’s sails.
Up until now, you’ve done work on yourself. You’ve taken steps to educate yourself and earn some of your own money. Now it’s time to draw a line in the sand. When the oppressor says something you don’t like, ask for clarification about what he or she is saying.
For example, let’s say you are talking about an investment and Tommy Tact suggests that your input isn’t required. If that is what you heard, ask him if that is what he meant to say. Get him to clarify exactly what he means and then ask him why he feels that way. Then tell him how wrong he is and how it makes you feel. If the topic is something you don’t know much about, you can still stand up. Just explain to His Highness that even though you may not have the information or experience he has, it doesn’t give him a right to speak to you like that.
4. Stay Strong
Mr. Sensitive has gotten away with treating other people like dirt for a long time. He’s not going to change his behavior overnight but you can change your behavior today. Whenever he pulls this intimidation act, go back to step 3. Ask for clarification and get him to commit to what he’s really saying. Ask him to prove his point and then destroy him by explaining how he’s wrong and/or has no right to behave so disrespectfully.
If you follow the preceding 4 steps and Bozo still doesn’t get it, you’re going to have to step it up a notch. If you have used step 3 a few times and the behavior persists, it’s time for you to enforce boundaries. Explain that you’ve made your feelings known a number of times and that you are no longer willing to accept this behavior. At that point, walk away. Go do something nice for yourself. Do something empowering. Do anything. But don’t reward this disrespect by staying in the conversation.
It doesn’t matter if your bully is your spouse, parent, friend or advisor. There is absolutely no reason to waste time with people who are unkind. You can certainly educate yourself and/or earn more. This will build your self-esteem and put a few shekels in your pocket too. But regardless of where you are in relation to finance, nobody was a right to bully you around. You really don’t have to accept it any longer and I really hope you don’t.
Is there (or has there been) a financial bully* in your life? What did you do to change things?