- Jacent Wamala is a licensed therapist who decided to become a money mindset coach.
- Wamala’s pivot in her career began with certain choices she made to fix her relationship with money.
- She recommends identifying your hang-ups, changing your mindset, and writing your feelings down.
- Read more from Personal Finance Insider.
Wamala didn’t originally plan for this career shift, but while she was in grad school her father passed away and she got a divorce, which led to her accumulating a significant amount of debt.
After reading “The Smart Money Woman” by Arese Ugwu, her views about money started shifting. That’s when she wrote down on a piece of paper that she wanted to be debt-free in three years, and have a net worth of $70,000.
Wamala became intentional about paying off debt. But, as she paid off over $60,000 of debt in 3 years, she unpacked some of her financial traumas.
Since then, she’s helped many clients do the same. Wamala shared five strategies with Insider to help anyone improve their relationship with money.
1. Identify what your financial trauma is
Wamala said that improving our relationship with money starts with understanding experiences that have given us hang-ups about money.
“The way you think about money is going to shape your experience of it,” she said. “It affects what you think is possible for you, or what you think you deserve.”
She said that these hang-ups can come from all sorts of negative experiences.
“Financial trauma could be caused by a family member dying without a will or an estate plan in place, which created hardship for the family,” Wamala elaborated. “On the other hand, it could result from growing up with a lack of money.”
Wamala suggests writing a letter to describe your relationship with money to identify financial trauma. Then, you’ll want to think about what it might be connected to, by taking inventory of the history of your relationship with money.
“Growing up, how did people talk about money or interact with money around you?” asked Wamala. “If everyone in your family was talking about money being evil, this is probably why you feel like you shouldn’t make a lot of money.”
“So often, people are recreating experiences from the past in their present,” she added. “Taking inventory empowers you to be able to separate what happened in the past from where you are in the present moment.”
2. Change your thought processes around money
Wamala discussed the importance of changing your mindset around money once you have identified your financial trauma. This may involve revisiting the way you talk about money, educate yourself, and envision your financial life.
“I had a scarcity mindset around money,” said Wamala. “As a result, I lacked clarity and vision for my life and money. I see a lot of parallels my clients have when it comes to that.”
Wamala shared that she earned only $17,000 the year before starting her debt-free journey. But once she began to change her mindset and became intentional about her finances, she said that she tripled her income by the end of the following year.
3. Find helpful resources and supportive people in your life
“Financial trauma is like quicksand — it’s hard to get out by yourself,” Wamala said.
She emphasized the importance of using resources such as books and podcasts, and added that finding people on the same path as you when it comes to improving your finances is really important.
This support system can exist through a community, or even through specific people in your life who support your journey.
4. Re-define your rules of engagement with money
Wamala stressed the importance of creating a conscious plan for your finances. Relying on systems will help you learn to build resistance around your unhealthy financial habits.
Ask yourself what you want your money to do for you. then determine what you have to do to make that happen.
“When I get paid, a certain percentage always gets transferred to my savings. I have already set the system up so that my 401(k) will withdraw a certain amount from my paychecks. I have a monthly money meeting on the calendar to audit my accounts and ensure that everything looks right. And I make a plan for what I want my money to do in the following month,” Wamala said.
Once you have the systems in place, you can make room for other things. If you tend to overspend or have a really hard time spending, for instance, Wamala suggests setting aside a specific amount of money to spend on yourself.
“Look at your money every day. It’s so much easier to attain a habit by doing something every day. Look at your bank account and expenses, even just five minutes a day. At some point, there’s going to be a shift because you’re going to understand how you feel when you look at your bank account. You’re going to see some charges that aren’t supposed to be there, and you will want to do something about it,” Wamala said.
5. Write down your feelings before and after setting money goals
Wamala suggests writing two letters to yourself a year from now. In one letter, you will congratulate yourself for following through on improving your relationship with money and for everything you have been able to accomplish because of your determination and consistency. The other letter will mention that you are still in the same position because you didn’t do the work, and it’s affecting your finances, health, and even your relationships.
“I dare anyone to write those two letters and have them side by side where you can see them daily and let that inform how you move through the year,” Wamala said.