3. Self-worth builds net worth
I realized that until I started acting honestly, I would be broke and unhappy. It was my own aha moment: I realized we spend more than when we feel less than. I felt less than because I could not afford what all those rich people could. But look where that got me—in debt and miserable. It was right then that I started to use money as my guide. I began watching how I was using money and how I was feeling when I made money choices. When I learned to give myself—and my money—the love and respect we both deserved, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. I was no longer racing to keep up; I was so happy being right where I was. Being me. I stopped spending money I didn't have and started living within my means. I had found my power. I was clear on who I was, what I wanted, and what I thought. No more letting the external world define me—I defined me. And it was only when that happened that I was able to dig out of debt and build the lasting net worth I now have.
If you have credit card debt and no savings, and you feel miserable, don't attribute your woes to not having enough money; instead see the lessons your money is trying to teach you. Is it possible you have yet to find your self-worth? [See: How to take control of your finances]
4. Do what's right, not what's easy
Believe me, I know how easy it is to run up credit card debt. I have 60,000 memories of what happens when you act without conscience, doing whatever you want rather than pulling yourself back and considering whether it is right. If I had stopped to have that talk with myself, I would have seen my powerlessness earlier. That would have saved me money and gotten me to happy a lot faster.
To know whether something is right or just easy, I turn to my three gatekeeper questions: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true? And I make sure I can answer yes to all three. Is it kind—to me? Is it necessary—for me? Is it true—for me?
I see so many women fail the gatekeeper test when it comes to dealing with loved ones. When a sister asks for a loan to pay off her credit card or a child asks you to cosign a loan for a new car, you jump in and say yes without a moment's hesitation. It is imprinted in your DNA to always give, no questions asked. But if you were to ask yourself the gatekeeper questions, you would often see that what is easy to do is not necessarily right. If you lend money to someone, are you really solving their problem or just getting them off the hook? My experience is that people who are bailed out of trouble often end up back in trouble. How is that help really kind to them? And if you are lending money that depletes your emergency savings, or prevents you from working toward your own financial goals, is that kind or true to yourself? Repeat after me: Say no out of love rather than yes out of fear.