By Molly McDonald
This issue we meet Jane Honeck, CPA, PFS, PCC who understands that the problem with money is not about the money at all, but something deeper.
As a Money Coach, Jane helps people move toward long-term financial change by recognizing the areas of deep beliefs that underlie their relationship with money. and coaching to positive outcomes making financial decision influence that align with their values. Jane’s goal is to teach her clients that money plays a supporting role to their values.
Here is my brief chat with Jane:
Molly: We know many of us are at a place of being completely overwhelmed even before a breast cancer diagnosis further disrupts our lives. It is not enough that we are working full time to support our families, juggling kid’s commitments, homework, household chores, and keeping the bills paid on time, not to mention the mounds of laundry. There is little time to care for ourselves until that call comes and taking care of ourselves becomes one more thing we MUST do.
We feel like everything has been thrown at us, including the proverbial kitchen sink, where we see ourselves spinning out of control and going down the drain, never to emerge financially. As treatment begins, the medical bills begin to pile up, often remaining unopened as it is just too painful to look at the cost of care to save our lives.
For me, I began to believe I was a financial burden to my family, that they might be better off without me. What a lie! Now, add in the cost of prescription medicines to manage side effects and the foods our physician’s recommend to boost our immune system. It is all just too much. The last thing we want to have to think about is how to manage it all, including our money or lack thereof. We are not going to pick up the phone and seek the advice of a trusted financial professional like yourself. Jane, as a CPA, how are you different in your approach to understanding and managing money, and how do you begin helping Survivors do more than survive but learn to thrive financially?
Jane: I think the biggest reason I’m different is because I don’t focus only on what to do with your money. We all know what to do with our money: Save more and spend less. But somehow it just doesn’t always work that simply. We often get stuck on the merry-go-round of frustration. I help people understand why. It’s the why that solves the problems by raising our awareness about how we operate in this complex world of ours.
Money problems are amplified because of the diagnosis. Expenses rise because of medical costs, and taking care of yourself through better nutrition and better self-care. Anytime we add expenses to an already tight budget, we feel the impact mentally, emotionally and oftentimes physically.
The diagnosis shoves you into a world where you easily feel out of control—and I don’t know many people who like feeling out of control. So we look for things we think we can control. And money is one thing the world constantly tells you that you need to get it together.
And as you know from trying to control anything, this is where life gets interesting. Anything we have ever done wrong, anything we’re trying to hide or ignore is right there to get in our way. So, it’s another “in your face” time to reassess how you want to live your life—this time with money.
Molly: When you say things we have done wrong, or trying to hide or ignore what exactly do you mean? Can you give me an example?
Jane: It starts with being aware of your general attitude about how money shows up in your life. One thing I like to talk about is the concept of “enough”. Have you ever thought about how you use that term? Do you always have “just enough?” Just barely able to live paycheck to paycheck? And so even if you get a huge raise or gift, it’s already gone because you believe you will always have “just enough”. Or maybe your belief is “barely enough” and you can’t even make it to the next paycheck. So, you want to work on that underlying general belief and turn it around to “more than enough” so you can live the abundant life you deserve.
That general attitude about abundance is just the starting point, there are money beliefs that get in the way of most parts of our life.
Molly: Can you expand on “money beliefs?”
Jane: Most of us aren’t aware of them because we’ve been taught that money is a concrete thing—dollars and cents—you either have it or you don’t. But money is much, much more because we humans are the ones that created the concept of money. And we infused the concept of money judgment and beliefs about ourselves and money. Unfortunately, we don’t usually stop to think about those.
We pick up money beliefs from our parents and families, schools and work, religion and spirituality, overall society and the media. The media is an easy place to start looking for these beliefs. Next time you read or watch an ad on the internet or TV try to find the hidden belief. On the surface they’re all about having more. They’re telling you what’s important to you and what to believe!
Molly: Are you saying money problems aren’t just about how much money we have or don’t have?
Jane: Definitely! I’ve worked with multi-millionaires who are miserable. They are unable to enjoy their money because they are operating under someone else’s concepts of what’s important in life and spending all the money in the world won’t help because they are disconnected from who they really are.
I’ve also worked with people living only on disability who are able to find peace without money because they have been forced to find real joy in their life—relationships, community and the natural world—none of these cost a penny.
Who we are at our core is the same with or without money. And just like other parts of our life, if we aren’t in sync with our best self—we’re always going to have problems. The diagnosis of breast cancer amplifies the belief about ourselves that we already held.
Molly: For years, my self-worth was tied to having money and when I lost it all, I really struggled. I remember hanging out with all my still very wealthy friends, feeling like a complete loser. What has been interesting to me over the last years is seeing what I thought mattered in life, money and the stuff I could buy with it; now has so little value to me. How do we help women to understand their own self-worth and money?
Jane: We start with two simple concepts: one is easy and the other takes a little work because we are human.
First, be curious. Be curious about everything money related. Next time you buy something ask yourself why am I buying this item, why this brand, why now? Why am I paying with cash—or a credit card? What was I feeling before I bought it, as I bought it—after I bought it? Being curious helps raise your money awareness. All change begins with awareness.
Second, be optimistic. This is the tough one because we’ve been trained to feel bad about how we deal with money. Or, at least we think we could do better. But either way—starting from negativity keeps us mired in problems and doubt.
The road to change begins with discovering what you do right with money so you can operate from optimism and possibility. Sometimes it’s hard to find what’s right but there’s always something—even if it’s being really, really good at spending! And once you’ve found one thing you do right, you’ll be surprised how many more there are.
Discovering what’s right allows you to look optimistically at both ends of the spectrum. If you’re doing something right then there’s something you’re not doing as well, some place you want a little more balance. But that comes later because change is much, much easier when you start from a place of optimism. With optimism your head is up and you see opportunities coming your way.
These two steps seem small but they are the foundation for making changes that stick. Make them part of your everyday routine. Slow down, pay attention and see how money is really playing out in your life. We have to understand what we want to change. Curiosity and optimism will open your mind to a whole new world with money.
On the 10th Annual Thriver’s Cruise April 24-30, 2016 I will host two special workshops that will demonstrate how to begin to have a lasting money breakthrough experience. Girls on the Go Just Want to Have More Dough is a fun and interactive workshop. I have a gift for all workshop attendees in celebration of the BCW’s 10th Annual Thriver’s Cruise.
If you cannot join us on the cruise, you are also invited to join me in the BCW Financial Webinars beginning in June when we launch my series, The New Money Dynamic Program, for those seeking financial wellness after diagnosis.
Molly: Well Jane, I look forward to meeting you and learning more. And for those of you who will be cruising with us, please be sure to seek me out and I will candidly share my money story with you, the fears I still struggle with and how a shift from getting to giving changed everything.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2005, she was unable to start her new job as planned. Her family’s already tight budget was immediately overburdened with the addition of a monthly COBRA health insurance payments coupled with the loss of her income. As a result, she was determined to help others suffering from lost income as a result of their diagnosis and treatment. In 2006 she founded The Pink Fund, where she now serves as CEO working daily to provide help and hope to Survivors and their families. “By providing 90 days of non-medical financial assistance, making payments to the patient’s creditors for insurance, housing, transportation and utilities, we give help and hope.” Since its founding, The Pink Fund has made $845,504.45 in bill payments on behalf of 843 Survivors. For her work MacDonald has been the recipient of many local and national awards, most notably she has been named a Pink Power Mom, by Kids II and Bright Starts. She is a Purpose Prize Fellow, presented by Encore.org for social impact, and Money Magazine’s 2014 Michigan Money Hero. The Pink Fund was recently recognized as a top global cancer innovator in patient centric care by The LiveStrong Foundation for its work in helping to rebuild financial health; and was named by Time and Money, together with Charity Navigator as a one of five national breast cancer charities worthy of your donation where you can feel confident your dollars will be put to good use. A graduate from The University of Michigan in journalism, MacDonald’s past work experience includes reporting, marketing, public relations and sales. She is a mother to five adult children.