Accounting for my life

I love my accountant.

How many people can say that? Or would say that?

Those are four words I can’t even imagine myself saying a few months ago. But then I found my accountant. I found her through serendipity. Much like my last blog post, only different circumstances.

Anyway, how I met her isn’t as important as the fact that I have met her. And that I love her. She gets me.

Like many women, I have always hated finances. Actually, that’s not true. When I was in high school, I loved economics lessons. And when we had the civics lesson where we learned about the stock market and had to put together a fake portfolio, mine made heaps of money. I was one of the best in the class.

But then I went to university and the only class I ever came close to failing was Economics. I know the only way I actually passed was because the professor took pity on me. When I entered the ‘real world’ and made a living for the first time, I got so I hated finances. I hated having to balance my chequebook and keep track of a budget and expenses. I kind of gave up and did what many 20 year olds do…I lived on credit cards until that caught up with me. It was a rude awakening and I’m pleased to say I learned the ‘living on credit cards is bad’ lesson early and now pay off my credit card every month.

As half of a married couple, I paid all the bills, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking about finances. I never would have made suggestions about investments.  As a woman, I had a weird idea that men are automatically better at this stuff than women. I gave my power away to my husband. I think that’s what lots of women do. As the years went by, we bought two houses but didn’t really manage our finances well. We both ended up with what an amazing woman recently told me is STD: Sexually Transmitted Debt. (Isn’t that a brilliant name for it?)

Why is it that we automatically assume that because a man is, well, a man, it means that he’s better at certain things than we are? I guess this is because this is what most of my generation had modelled to us by our mothers. They were always deferring to their husbands. Even if their husbands didn’t actually know anything more than they did about a certain subject.  How ridiculous.

So now that I’m on my own and also running my own business I figured it was time for me to put my big girl pants on and find my own accountant. I met with her for the first time a few weeks ago and we hit it off right away. It might have something to do with both being named Lisa, both being tall and both from the US but I think it’s more because she speaks my language.

I’m not talking about English, I’m talking about Words of Affirmation.

If you’ve ever read The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman then you’ll understand immediately what this means. If you haven’t read it, stop reading this blog and go read this book. It explains a lot about communicating with anyone in your life who is important to you.

According to Mr Chapman, the five love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

I think that these five languages translate beyond romantic love. I think if you can figure out that the colleague in the next cubicle who is annoying the crap out of you responds to you listening to her stories about her terrible home life for five minutes each morning, you will probably find that she responds to other requests you make for her to do her work as well. And I know my kids respond when I use their primary love language with them. As you probably can figure out, my primary love language is words of affirmation. I respond in almost all situations better if I’m told something positive or recognised for something good that I did.

After our first meeting, Lisa the accountant sent me off with homework. I had a number of items to get together and bring to our next meeting which was scheduled for this past Tuesday. I’ve been away in the US for the past few weeks and then was only home for a couple of days before heading to Hobart so I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare. You should have seen me on Monday night. There were receipts everywhere. The kids had to eat in the living room in front of the TV (not something usually encouraged in my house so it was a treat for them), I was printing accounts out and trying to update Excel spreadsheets (Excel is the bane of my existence, I swear). Actually, I was swearing all over the place, much to the kids’ chagrin. I felt sick. I kept thinking ‘why didn’t I cancel this appointment or postpone it???’ But I knew why. If I had cancelled or postponed, I would have never gone. I would have continually made up excuses. I would have never faced my fear.

So late Monday night I was finally ready. USB stick ready with spreadsheets. Every receipt printed. Copies of invoices and remittance advice slips ready. I still felt sick as I went to bed.

Tuesday morning, Lisa welcomed me into her office and said ‘I’m glad to see you are here. I wondered if you would cancel.’ I laughed and explained the scene from the night before. She laughed and said, ‘I just had a feeling…’

And with that, I knew she spoke my language.

She looked at all of the documentation I brought and told me how great I was. She told me I was incredibly organised and how impressed she was with everything I had done. She used words of affirmation to tell me that I was good at this stuff. I basked in the glow. I’ve never had anyone tell me that before. And I also knew she wasn’t just saying it because it was what I wanted to hear. I knew I had rocked it.

I realised that too often in my life, I’ve let other people take my power away when it comes to finances. And often those people have been men who have talked down to me or treated me like I have no idea what I’m doing. Any man I’ve ever talked to about finances has done that to me until I got to the point where I didn’t believe in myself or my financial choices. They didn’t speak my language and I got caught in the translation.

I walked out of Lisa’s office, head held high. I had nailed what I had to do. Yes, I have some more information to gather for her for our next meeting but I know the questions to ask now and where to get the answers. I’m taking responsibility for me and the financial path to abundance that I want to have.

I’m prepared to deal with difficult questions now and move forward. I’m realising that I’m not lumbered with a STD at all. In fact, I’m ok and am taking steps to build my financial future on my own. I still have a long way to go, but with the right people around me, who happen to speak my language, I have confidence in myself again.

Now if I could just master an Excel spreadsheet…

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