Why do so many personal conversations take place in crowded public places?  When I commuted on the GO Train in the Greater Toronto Area I heard many one-sided telephone conversations.  The range of topics was very broad and included romantic arguments (these seemed to attract the largest listening audience on the train), job interviews (I’m not kidding) and personal banking questions (the client, not the banker).  More recently when I was in line at a local gathering spot a conversation about money arose.  Naturally I tried not to listen, but alas, here’s what I heard.

Two women who appeared to be work colleagues struck up a conversation about lottery winnings.  One said that she simply wanted to win enough so she didn’t need to stress about money any longer.  Her colleague also agreed that it would be an ideal solution to all the problems she experienced about money.  I wanted to ask them a few questions about their knowledge on various money matters.  However etiquette rules indicated that I should not have been eavesdropping and so I didn’t want to disclose that I was.  In reality, I was stuck in line, I didn’t want to lose my spot, and they were making the wait a bit more interesting.

We’ve all heard the stories about lottery winners losing everything.  Unfortunately if someone doesn’t have the knowledge or discipline to save and grow their own money they are less likely to do well managing a financial windfall.  Rather than leaving your future in the hands of luck, why not take control and learn more about money.  Research shows that gaining mastery over a subject or skill results in increased levels of self-esteem.  Pleasure is gained from achieving competence in a specific area.  Financial management is one of the areas of mastery that was researched.  Older women who had relied on their spouses to manage most financial matters, except the household budget were initially overwhelmed when left on their own to handle finances.  Due to their spouse’s incapacity or after the spouse passed away, the woman had little choice but to take control of the money.  Although it was stressful at the outset, once she gained financial skills her stress levels decreased and her overall sense of well-being increased.  This positive outcome occurred, regardless of the level of financial assets.  In other words, the stress came from not understanding and feeling in control of personal finances.  The stress did not come from having modest means.

Back to the women in the same line as me who are hoping for a financial windfall.   I don’t think that a lottery win would stop the money stress – at least not for the long term.  Any temporary reduction in stress would be lost as the challenges of managing large sums of money increased.  The issues may be new but the stress would be the same.  The only way these women will eliminate financial stress is by gaining financial knowledge and taking active steps in managing their money.  That is financial mastery.

As the saying goes – there’s no time like the present.   www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca