By: Dr. Lisa Belisle
Photography: Cyndi Smith
Kate Northrup is a self-described professional freedom seeker and creative entrepreneur. She is the author of Money: A Love Story, Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want.
Why is your book called “Money: A Love Story?” Money is a stand-in for what we value. To use money properly, what we need to do is align it with our values and get into valuing tremendously what it brings us.
You came to this understanding after having taken on the role of “money expert” In the meantime, you had a deep, dark secret. I fell by accident into the role of teaching people about money. I had built a successful business in the network marketing industry. Then I started giving workshops. My business was doing well, but I was only focused on making money. I got myself into over $20,000 worth of credit card debt. Behind the scenes, my financial life was fairly chaotic. It started to feel really inauthentic.
This is a big part of what you’re asking people to do: to dig deep. What I found in my own journey was that I had to rewire myself emotionally and mentally, and change some of the perspectives I had about money and myself. When we change how we feel about something, then that really rewires our beliefs and rewires our activity.
Walk me through some of the steps that you suggest to people who are working on their own “money love stories.” There’s a lot of vagueness around money. If you cut the vagueness and get honest, then you can set about creating the financial reality that you really want. You can’t do that unless you know where you’re starting from. When you tell the truth, it also diminishes a lot of the shame surrounding money. One of the best ways to alleviate shame is to talk about it. That immediately lightens the load.
You refer to bills as “invoices for blessings already received?” Renaming bills ‘invoices for blessings already received’ enables you to relive the value of the things that you have gotten, instead of saying, “Ugh, I have to pay bills again.” You’re going to have to pay bills for the rest of your life. Why not make it a fun, joyful, grateful experience?
How do you approach cutting expenses? When you are spending money, ask yourself, “Would it feel better to spend it and have this thing I’m about to buy, or would it feel better to pay myself and put this money in the Money for Me account?” Every time you have unexpected income—every time you were about to spend money but you decided not to—take it and put it in the Money for Me account. At the end of the month, you can look at that account and see how good it feels to pay yourself instead of buying stuff. It’s actually creating a different emotional experience.
You suggest that while you’re restructuring your financial situation, you don’t want to spend all of your money on past debts. A lot of people will go from getting into debt to getting into deprivation. Then they spend years suffering as a way of “atoning for their sins.” The reality is, you made the decisions you made in the past. You were a different person then. We all have things that we wish we had not done in our past. Beating ourselves up for it in the present doesn’t actually help us.
What are your favorite things to do when you’re not talking about Money: A Love Story? I love to be on the water in Maine. I just can’t imagine living somewhere not on the water. Paddleboarding, sailing, just sitting on the beach, I love that.