American Women Find Money Problems Are Like Romantic Troubles

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In 2007, Lora Sasiela, a Gramercy Park psychotherapist had what she calls a money meltdown. Though her practice was thriving, Sasiela neglected to adjust her withholdings accordingly – leaving her with a huge, unexpected, tax bill at the end of the year.

“It was this crisis that had me ‘wake up and smell the financial coffee,’” said Sasiela. After scraping together enough money to pay off her whopping $12,000 tax bill, she vowed to never let her financial house get messy again. Among other things, Sasiela began carrying a notebook with her account balances, consulting books and attending money workshops to get her finances back on track. “I was determined to conquer this,” she recalled.

…and a change was made

The experience inspired her. “As I did my own healing and grow(ing) in this area of my life, I saw how liberating and empowering it was,” said Sasiela, adding that she also felt the urge to spread the word about her new found financial mandate. “I needed to share it with other women,” she said.

So she did. The Manhattan psychotherapist turned her attention to financial therapy to realize her zeal for helping people live financially satisfying lives. To do so, however, they needed to flip how they viewed money. In fact, Sasiela thought: “They need to consider money just as they would a romantic relationship. After all, money, like love, needs to be nurtured. It shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe they should even think about checking in with money on a daily basis. See how your money is doing…”

Sharing the inspiration

That simple concept led Sasiela to startup money relationship classes at at her office in NYC as well at requested locations in the tri-state area. Since 2008, Sasiela has been helping women – who she said struggle with finances the most – decipher what they’re doing wrong with their money and why.

There’s a lot women don’t know about love, and, as it turns out, money.

“I will ask a client to think about how much time and attention each week they are spending on their relationship with money. If that where your romantic partner, how would that relationship be going? The response I most often get is a sheepish ‘They’d probably leave me.’”

The people who attend her conferences

Samantha Mehlman attended a Sasiela money group seminar and loved it.

Mehlman landed her first job after graduating from NYU as a private school secretary. In the past, she never understood what money meant. “It didn’t matter to me. I waved it off. If I spent nothing, if I spent everything? That didn’t make a difference. I put those around me in uncomfortable positions.”

At group therapy, which she said has finally “opened my eyes,” Mehlman learned “there’s a balance. A woman next to me was so controlling and couldn’t manage to let herself spend anything. It shouldn’t be the focus of anything but at the same time, it needs its place. It is a piece to the puzzle but not the most or least important.”

“There is this idiosyncratic way that we all have of being “in relationship,’ whether it be with a person, our body, food, money, etc. What began to dawn on me, not only for myself, but for the women I was working with, is that when it comes to money, there is so much fear and oftentimes shame, that we want to ignore, or ‘dis our money.”

“I help my clients see that they actually are in a relationship with money, and most likely it will be the longest relationship of their life. I will sometimes use the metaphor of your money life being a garden. What does that garden look like? It is overgrown with weeds from years of neglect, or is it bountiful and beautiful?” Sasiela said.

All therapy needs to cover love and money drama

Stephanie Schroder has found financial trouble and discusses it with her therapist.

“It’s a different world today. A whole different economy. I read a college grad will have 20 different jobs by the time they retire. In my father’s day, he had one job he worked at for 40 years. He had a pension. They’re not loaded or anything, but they live nicely.”

Prior to moving in with her playwright girlfriend of two years, Schroder said she rented a couch in her Flatbush studio to new New Yorkers for $150 per week. She also received help from friends and the Writers Guild and works getting any paid writing assignments she can.

The resolution is in your own journaling, notes and writing

“People complain over and over again, ‘Money’s tight,’ and repeat the same issue, but yet you find they don’t change it so they’ll complain for years, whereas if somebody had a knee injury, they fix it. With Stephanie, she lost her job. She was really making every effort so it wasn’t like we had to look at her like she was entitled. She really needed support. She was doing everything she could,” said her Midtown East therapist Susan Winter.

People should “make a goal oriented list each day, making three things you do towards a goal. Not becoming reclusive, making a resume, calling creditors and making arrangements, for example, so you don’t become paralyzed.”

Winter recommended, “Say, ‘What is my relationship with money and has it always been bad? How do I categorize it in terms of being goal directed? Say things that are more realistic in terms of being specific. They can make a calendar of money owed and start to pay off the easiest debt because even if you pay off a small debt, it’s an accomplishment. It gives you a feeling of confidence.”

Every step leads you to helping your personal finances!

Every time spent at therapy, whether group or individual sessions, makes an impact.  “I want to be writing. That was my main focus was writing at school. But I also know having stuff understood a little more about what money is how you need it to live,” Mehlman said about planning her future.

“Just to say that I can relate to how scary it can feel to start to open up and take a look at this part of our lives. I want women to know that they don’t have to be alone on the journey…that there are financial therapists, financial advisers, and organizations that are here to help and support them,” Sasiela said.

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