Have you ever put off going to the dentist because you felt guilty about how often you flossed?
Or delayed joining the gym because you wanted to get 'a little bit fit' or 'lose a few pounds' first?
You know…avoided the thing that's actually going to help you because you felt embarrassed about your past behaviour or not proud of where you're currently at?
Yeah? Me too.
And I reckon it's the same for financial advice.
There's a lot of Aussies who know they need to do something about their money situation. Things aren't where they want them to be. They feel stressed. They know they don't have things sorted.
But they often also feel embarrassed about where they're at. There's shame, guilt, regret. A sense of failure.
That makes it very hard to ask for advice (and easy to put off).
So what can you do to help?
Tell people, 'it's okay'.
It's okay that things aren't perfect.
It's okay to be right where they're at.
It's okay if they made decisions in the past that didn't turn out so well.
Tell them on your website, your social media accounts, and wherever you share your message with the world. Don't wait until they're sitting in front of you in your office. They need to hear it before then.
And you don't have to use those exact two words — just get the message across.
How to say 'it's okay'
When you say things like,
‘I’m amazed at how many people don't insure their biggest asset / spend everything they earn / live in a house they can't afford / buy insurance online / don't have their wills sorted…’,
you make the people you're trying to help, feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed and stupid.
What if you said,
‘It's okay. We've all made mistakes with money. That spontaneous six week jaunt through Europe in the summer of 2014 that left you with a debt hangover worse than that three day bender in Ibiza? That's called being human. But now you're in your 30s, you know your next adventure needs to come from your pocket, not plastic.’
‘It's okay if you're not quite where you hoped you'd be by the time you hit the big 4-0.’
‘It's okay if you didn't know what was going on with the money stuff before your divorce.’
‘So let's help you get things sorted...’
How do you think that might make someone feel?
Seen and understood?
Like you 'get' them?
Like you're someone they can trust? Someone who can help solve their problems?
Saying, 'it's okay' can create a powerful moment that helps people make a choice to change. Actually make a decision to take a next step. To say goodbye to the before and hello to the after.
A sliding door moment. Real empowerment.
Saying, 'it's okay' shows you're human. It acknowledges we're all human. We make mistakes. We're not perfect.
It creates connection. It's empathetic. It's kind.
So forgive people.
And more importantly, help them forgive themselves.
Show them you understand they're trying their best, even if that's different to your best.