I am a shopper. I am a chartered accountant, I run a team of financial coaches, I "get" money, yet I am still a shopper.
People tell me budgeting is simple and to some it might be. "Spend less than you earn they say". I get it. I could make my clients do it. I just struggle to do it naturally.
The science makes sense; the follow-through is where I come unstuck. That's me. Some might judge, but that is me.
Interestingly, my husband is a saver. Those married to a different money personality will agree that the way different financial personalities blend, can make for interesting viewing.
It is my own psychology of spending and the role different money values played in my relationship that motivated me to start a team of financial coaches to help people of varying income levels and money personalities (including me), to get ahead faster.
For some people, getting ahead is an easy concept to execute. But for others (including me), it isn't. Sure, I'm smart, earning good money and own a couple of properties.
However, on a day to day basis, I wasn't really getting ahead. The increase in property values seemed to cover a multitude of over-spending sins. The reasons can be genetic, behavioural as well as environmental and understanding these obstacles is why I and my team commission and complete hours of research each year, to better understand ways to combat such natural tendencies.
In the 1950s, Stanford University completed the Marshmallow study - where Walter Mischel famously studied children's behaviour when given a marshmallow, giving them the option of eating the marshmallow now or wait a little bit longer for two.
The study measured the children's health, academic and general wellbeing over the next 50 years, concluding those who could exercise self-control early on were likely to score better in their school results and be healthier and wealthier.
Those children who ate the little marshmallow were still able to develop self-control later - but they needed extra tools. Neuro-scientists have analysed the brain of shoppers and savers and have seen different brain activity between the two personalities when given the option of buying something now or later.
I often say getting ahead financially can be similar to getting fit or losing weight. Some of us are born with a fast metabolism, making it easier to lose weight. Others of us aren't. Money is the same.
Some of us are born savers, many of us aren't. We might have financial smarts or learn what we need to do but this in isolation seldom translates to us achieving our financial capability. Life makes it hard.
The busier you are the easier it is for the small things to slip. Being accountable to someone can be the key to success for many.
To assess your own financial fitness, jump on your own financial scales. Determine if you are in need of a financial workout, and hit the gym. Questions you could ask yourself:
• How much of my pay packet do I have left over each week?
• Am I a shopper or a saver?
• What are my financial goals?
• When will I be mortgage free?
• How much do I need for retirement?
• Do I have a plan?
• Will my plan work? Am I sticking to it?
The irony is not lost on me that I have my own financial coach; I am not embarrassed to surround myself with people who can help me reach my goals. I have a personal trainer to make sure I actually exercise. Sometimes she has me do things I know I should do but would never get around to if left to my own devices.
I have a Board to make sure I achieve my business goals and I have a financial coach to keep me on track. I will always be a shopper, but I am now a conscious shopper. Because my spending is (now) under control and I have repaid a mortgage or two, the role of my financial coach has changed to making sure I am tracking to my longer term goals.
I am a busy working mum and, unless I am held accountable to a result, the little things slip. I do not want my financial future, and that of my kids, to take a back seat while I struggle with the constant juggle of life.
Perhaps it is this honest reflection that underpins enableMe. No judgement, just results (with some hard yards in between).
Hannah McQueen is the founding director of enableMe - financial personal trainers, and author of best-selling self-help books Kill your mortgage and sort retirement, and perfect balance: How to get ahead financially and still have a life.