Top 10 Tips from Lisa Barber


Feeling stressed about money affects all aspects of your life: your relationships, your mental health, and your overall well-being.

Lisa Barber is a Sydney-based money coach with nearly three decades experience and says for nearly everyone she sees, personal behaviour with money actually affects their long term happiness.

“Money is about emotion. People seek instant gratification in the hope it will bring them joy.”

“And yes, you might get joy out of those shoes initially, but in the long run if you can’t afford them, they’re actually going to cause you a lot of pain and stress.”

She says many people sit in fear for a long time before they’re willing to act and take control of their own future, but as soon as they do act, their stress lifts immediately - even if there’s a lot of hard work ahead before they reach their final goal.

Here are her top tips to help you reduce your money stress:

1. Think about your long term lifestyle goals. How do you want to live? By working backwards and really acknowledging what you want out of life, you can start to take practical steps to achieving this life. Have an inspiration image you look at daily (e.g. your phone lock screen). Are you aiming for a holiday? A country house? Early retirement? By constantly reminding yourself where you want to be, you’re more likely to be motivated to achieve it.

2. Acknowledge your spending might be causing stress. If you ever feel nervous about opening a bank statement or a credit card bill it’s likely you’re letting your money control you. Spending can become a dangerous cycle if you use it as a way to ‘feel better’, whether that’s buying a new dress, or having an expensive night out.

3. Acknowledge what you’re spending. The way you do this will be different for everyone. If you’re a tap and go person, you’ll easily be able to do this by just searching through your recent statements. If not, you might be better off recording everything you spend in a typical week or month (there are plenty of apps that will help you do this - or just use an old fashioned notepad). Look closely at your weak points. Are you tempted by fast fashion? Or are you someone who gets food delivered way too often?

4. Consider using an emotion tracker (or just record an emoji of your feelings in your phone’s calendar). Comparing that with your bank and credit card statements at the end of the month will give you a good indication if you’re an emotional spender.

5. Take practical steps to clean up your excess spending. Again, the way you do this will differ from person to person. Are you subscribing to services you don’t use? Cancel them. Are you spending unconsciously on goods you don’t need? Maybe develop a mantra that works for you. One that works for many of Lisa’s clients is having a phrase you repeat over and over when you walk into a store (or are tempted by online shopping). “I have everything I need. I don’t need anything else.”

6. Set yourself a no-impulse purchase rule for 100 days. This has to be a broad rule. It’s no good telling yourself not to buy new shoes for a few months if that’s not your personal weak spot. Include everything from unbudgeted after work drinks to the late night kebab (and taxi home). Lisa says her clients can save thousands in this process - which has motivated them to shift their long term money habits.

7. Change your mindset from “I can’t have this” to “I can have this when I can afford it.” A good way of doing this is to set aside cash from your no-impulse purchase time, and use that as your ‘impulse budget’. By planning for impulse spending long term, you’re much more likely to keep enjoying life, and sticking to your long-term money goals.

8. Implement a 50 / 30 / 20 rule. That means 50 per cent of your income has to go to things you actually need. A roof over your head. Bills paid. 30 per cent needs to go to other spending. Surprisingly, food needs to be allocated to this portion of your budget, as there’s a big difference between shopping at a discount supermarket, and getting your meals delivered each night. 20 per cent of your income needs to be saved towards your long term goal.

9. Don’t let a personal setback change core money habits you’ve worked hard to improve. Yes, you might lose your job. Or get sick. Or a relationship can break down. Accept where you are at, and adjust your lifestyle around this. If you are consciously spending within your means, you’re much less likely to be stressed about money.

10. Appreciate the money you have, rather than what you don’t have. You’ll never feel positive about your money if you are always wanting more. If your aim is overall lifestyle wellbeing (which it should be), understand that your money and happiness is in your control - and only you can change your financial future.

If you’re ready to take control of your spending, register your interest now for the Cense App and Programs designed to help you shift your money habits and work towards your long term goal.


Lisa Barber is an award winning financial services master, wealth coach, trusted advisor, speaker, author, business woman and entrepreneur with over 20 years of service in the profession.


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