My name is Jenni, and I’m going to be your guide on your journey towards a happier relationship with your money.
If you want to find out how a girl with no financial background decided to become a Money Coach, this is my story – but let me warn you, it’s not pretty…
“$3000 for a desk?!”
“$3000 for a desk?! But Jenni,” my boyfriend said, “do you really need a sit-stand desk? And where’s the money going to come from? You’re just back from that fancy conference in Sweden, and you had those two extra days shopping in Stockholm after it. Your spending is out of control!”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” I shrugged it off. “It’s only a few thousand. I’ve got the money! I’m investing in myself and my business. It’s important if I’m going to be taken seriously.”
“A few thousand? For a desk? Are you even listening to yourself??”
It was true, in a way – I did have the money, because it was sitting in my account. But I certainly couldn’t afford that desk. For the past few months, the lines between having the money and being able to afford it had become very blurred, and it was all starting to catch up with me…
We never talked about money
I grew up in Finland during the 90s, during a particularly bad recession. It was a frugal time; no one travelled or bought expensive things. The general view was that you just had to make do, and the scarcity mindset was deeply set in everyone around me.
My family wasn’t exactly poor, but the worry about money was always there in the background. Strangely we never talked about money. The lesson I learned from home was that if you worked hard and didn’t spend on frivolous things, then maybe, if you were lucky, you’d have a bit left over at the end of the month. We never travelled abroad, and I’d listen with awe and jealousy to my grandparents’ stories of their travels around the world.
I rebelled. I was out of control
When I went to university my eyes were opened to a new way of living. Suddenly I was in charge of my own money – there wasn’t a huge amount of it, but no one else could tell me what to do with the little I did have. I felt like the world was full of wonders, and that I deserved more than I had been given so far in my life. It didn’t take long before I started rebelling against the frugality of my childhood.
I refused to live in a tiny, grimy, shared student flat far away from the city centre and live off pot noodles – instead I rented a nice studio flat in the centre of town, and I ate the kind of food I was used to from home. I also did a bit of travelling, visiting some of the places I had dreamed of for so long.
I definitely didn’t match the stereotype of a poor student who had to scrape by financially and live on a shoestring budget. But despite my taste for the high life, I really didn’t like the idea of getting into debt, and I managed to keep my head above water without it.
But then one day a friend of mine took out a student loan to pay for a two-week holiday to Corsica. At first I thought that was a terrible idea, but soon I could hear a seductive little voice in my head whispering, “Why shouldn’t you do that, too? You deserve it!” And so it was that I ended up splashing out on a massive holiday to Australia and New Zealand for 5 weeks – a holiday that definitely didn’t include hours spent on Greyhound buses or meals cooked in youth hostels.
I was like a kid in a sweetshop
After I got back, it was as if the floodgates had burst open. I started seeing shiny lights and sparkly things everywhere – I was like a kid in a sweetshop.
Suddenly my debts grew and grew. The days of sensible spending and frugality were long gone, and my debt-free life was but a distant memory.
I had become a regular traveller, never staying still for more than three months at a time, and always having at least two trips coming up. I took every opportunity I could to go on student exchanges and work placements abroad, and I spent a fortune living in London for six months.
By the time I graduated I was thousands of dollars in debt.
I started working as a freelance translator, and I did okay, but instead of paying off my debts, I continued to enjoy the high life that I was used to. I continued to travel, enjoy long lunches, and take days off here and there when I felt like it.
As time went on, I got a bit better at handling my time and money, managing my business finances and paying myself a set salary every month. And then, as I entered the second year of being self-employed, things started to go seriously wrong.
I’m investing in myself… What’s wrong with that?!
For the past few years I hadn’t been managing my money in a sensible way, but at this point I took it to a completely different level. I managed to calm down my personal spending a little, but instead, I transferred my bad money habits from my personal life to my business.
“I need to invest in myself and my business”, I kept telling myself. I decided I wouldn’t be trapped by the poverty mindset that so many translators suffer from and limit my earning potential – I thought I’d have to act and look the part to be taken seriously.
Bright Shiny Object Syndrome crept up, and now I was dealing with much larger sums – hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on seminars, conferences and travel.
I was determined to be successful, and I thought that required me to take all these courses and join all the programs that other seemingly successful businesswomen were taking or offering. “If only I buy this program I will make it!”
One of the topics I was learning about was personal finance. I got really passionate about the subject and started learning everything I could about how to manage your money – too bad I wasn’t implementing much of what I learned.
At one point I decided I had to have one of those fancy sit-stand desks. One night I was moaning to my boyfriend about my financial situation, and five minutes later I was telling him about this amazing desk I’d ordered and how it was going to change my life! At this point my boyfriend decided to step in, and in the end I cancelled the desk order.
But it wasn’t over – it seemed I was a sucker for bright shiny objects
Not long after The Desk Incident, I saw an ad about a program helping people to set up their own coaching business. I really loved learning about personal finance, and I wanted to share my knowledge with others, so coaching seemed like a good way to do it. The trainer had a very sleek website showing off her amazing, glitzy lifestyle, and I decided I would join her program so that I, too, could have this amazing, luxurious life where everything was fun and fabulous.
So I got out my credit card and happily parted with $2000 – the biggest purchase I’d ever made, apart from my flights to Australia. Soon after, I found another program that I thought would complement the coaching program really well, and another one that talked about standing out from the crowd in business, and I just had to have them all!
I had become a textbook example of a person with Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.
So where did all these conferences, seminars, trips and online programs get me in the end? Well, because I spent all the money I had in my business account – which included the money I had been putting aside for tax for the past 8 months – I had to start putting money on my credit cards, so that at the end of that summer I found myself with:
- $4500 in credit card debt
- a tax bill worth $11 000, and
- $11 000 left to pay on my student loan
I was in massive trouble.
Things had to change.
The time had finally arrived when I had to take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror, and decide that my life was going to change now. I had to stop and get out of this hole I’d been digging for myself before I got all the way to China.
Things were looking really bleak, but I knew that I now had the skills and the knowledge to get out of the debt hell I’d created for myself if I just started implementing them. It would take a long time, and a lot of hard work, but I would get there.
I’d learned everything there was to know about managing your money, saving, and blitzing debt, and I was finally ready to put it all into practice. I knew what I needed to do.
I also knew I wasn’t alone – in the online world of female entrepreneurs, I found myself surrounded by people suffering from this Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. Those of us who want to build a successful business are constantly being offered new software, stationery, laptops, tech, fancy websites, branding, photoshoots, etc. etc., and impostor syndrome and fear of missing out pushes us to keep buying all these things, convinced that this time all our problems will be solved.
People all around me were being sucked in too – and I knew it was more than just investing in your business. It was a form of procrastination or self-sabotage – as long as we keep taking courses and learning to use new tools, we can’t be expected to be successful quite yet. And this just leads us into a vicious circle, as many people weren’t actually making the kind of money they needed to be making to afford all this stuff.
I decided to take a stand against this culture of excessive spending caused by lack of confidence or a tendency to procrastinate. I was determined to help myself get out of this mess – and stop other people getting into it, too.
Time to turn it all around
This is the point in the story where you’d expect the happy ending; where I put my head down, worked super hard, turned it all around and paid off my debts. Sadly I’m not quite there yet: I am working really hard at turning my life around, but it’s going to take some time.
You will get to hear that happy ending one day, but not quite yet. But my life is already much better than it was, because:
- I am no longer burying my head in the sand and pretending everything will sort itself out
- I have taken a proper look at the figures, even though it hurt, and I now know exactly where I stand
- I have a budgeting system that works
- Every single month I am getting one step closer to my goal of being debt free
- I no longer make spending decisions based on the money I have, but on what I can afford, as I have finally learned to make that distinction
and, most importantly,
- I’m no longer stressed out about money, because I have that all-important plan
I know what it’s like to have sleepless nights because of debt, and not being able to see a way out. I know what it’s like to blame yourself for the money mistakes of your past, and being impatient to see it all go away.
Like so many others, I’ve messed up spectacularly, but I’m getting myself out of trouble, and I want to help you do the same.
I have the first-hand experience of what it’s like when things go terribly wrong. And I want to share that with you, so that you can recognise the symptoms of BSO Syndrome or other money management issues and do something about them before it’s too late. I want to help you avoid the traps I fell into.
I’m not going to sell you some super fancy coaching program that costs $20 000 and tell you I have a quick fix solution or a Get Rich Quick scheme that will solve all your problems overnight.
Instead I’m here to give you honest sensible advice, support and accountability that will help you learn the skills you need to get your finances in order, and to keep them that way. No one knows what’s going to happen in life, and anyone could have their financial situation changed completely and suddenly, but if you learn to manage your finances now, you will have those skills forever.
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And if you feel like you need more support in your own relationship with money, book a free Discovery Session here and we’ll have a chat about it.