Angela* (not her real name to protect her privacy) was overwhelmed after winning a large settlement when her divorce was finalized. She hadn't just lost her husband. She also lost her financial adviser. Her financial well-being was in jeopardy.
First, what is "Financial Well-Being"? Michael Cole, president of Ascent, explains financial well-being this way: "The most important consideration to living a 'rich life' is the alignment of your financial resources with your sense of self-worth and your focus on fulfillment." While monetarily Angela was very well off, she felt bankrupt in terms of her total lack of the two C's -- Competence and Confidence -- required for financial fulfillment.
Angela began investing in her financial well-being by attending Money, Meaning and Mindfulness. Her goal was to expand her awareness of the interplay of wealth and well-being, and to build her confidence with her financial decisions. She learned that one of the best ways to start was to increase her competence.
Competence: According to James E. Hughes, the author Family Wealth – Keeping it in the Family, true well-being is accessed by being balanced in our investments in our human, intellectual, social, and spiritual capital, along with our financial capital.Financial literacy, the cornerstone of building our confidence and increasing our "intellectual capital", was something Angela did not possess.
Her anxiety was relieved when she was introduced to vetted resources such as:
University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack's index card
I often recommend these resources because, along with being engaging and easy to understand, they also do not have any agenda or "conflict of interest" – meaning that they do not stand to make any money from any financial decisions you make.
According to Dorie Fain, CEO & Founder of, &Wealth, a financial advisory firm dedicated to women, you want to be informed: "Access is so important, particularly for the women that we represent where so often they simply don't have access to the financial information that impacts them. Trust yourself and do not move forward when information isn't clear or seems too good to be true."
Confidence: Along with beginning to trust herself, Angela chose an adviser to work with whom she trusted. Yet she still felt overwhelmed whenever anticipating their meetings. She had a hard time following through and would sometimes cancel appointments at the last minute.
Investing in her "human capital" Angela learned that her lack of confidence with her finances stemmed in part from unconscious patterns and self-defeating emotions that come up whenever faced with financial decisions. Psychologist Arne Boudewyn, head of Family Governance and Education for Abbot Downing, explains that "finances can be a powerful source of emotions for many people. One can reflexively find it easier to look the other way rather than lean in to their financial lives. The irony is that leaning in gives you more power and control over your life."
Investing in Yourself:
What does it take to be able to "lean in"? Taking actions that will have you feel both confident and competent, so that you can trust yourself to make good decisions. Angela worked with a coach to learn how to manage her reactivity related to money and became empowered with new approaches.
She completed a simple Money Types assessment to understand the eight most common patterns that arise when making financial decisions. Some of these, such as the "magician" and the "warrior" are beneficial, while others, such as the "victim" or "fool" can derail the learning process. Since we all have all eight of these "money types", we can learn how to manage them in simple ways, so that we get to build our confidence and competence with ease and flow.
Angela learned that her "innocent" money type was jeopardizing her future financial well-being by emotionally spending without consideration of a budget. According to Deb Wetherby, of Wetherby Asset Management, "When you can live the life you want to live within your budget, you will have a lifetime of happiness and financial well-being." Angela learned how to nurture her "innocent" while bringing forward her "warrior" to stay true to a budget that allowed her to feel at ease and excited about her financial future.
No matter how much money is in your bank account, financial well-being, according to Peter W. Johnson, Jr., of PWJohnson Wealth Management, is "virtually in everyone's reach. Essential ingredients include awareness, honesty, action, and a bit of courage." Using the practical recommendations provided here by trusted, vetted, fiduciaries, I invite you to "lean in" and have courage to do your due diligence and
(1) find an adviser you trust,
(2) build your financial literacy, and
(3) stop your emotional reactivity from sabotaging your efforts by understanding your core Money Types.
For more information, feel free to contact the author at