The 7 Things You’ve Already Tried That Simply Are NOT Working

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Jill Emanuel: Hello. Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of the Fiscal Fitness Podcast. This is your host coach, Jill Emmanuel. 

I’m one of the lead financial coaches with fiscal fitness Phoenix and I am super excited to dive into today’s episode where we are talking about the seven things you’ve already been trying and they’re not working. Yup, that’s right. Let’s face it. We’ve all tried to do things when it comes with our money to improve our financial position, to try to get ourselves out of debt, to try to get on a better plan. 

I talk to people all day long every day and let me tell you that the people when they first call in, they’ll tell me that they’ve tried all of these different things and yet they’re still feeling that they’re not getting ahead, they’re not making the progress that they want and they’re still feeling this level of stress and frustration with their finances that they are just ready to be done with.

And so thinking through these conversations that I have over and over with clients when they call in to initially have that first Q & A call with me just to see if it sounds like a good fit to move into coaching. I’ve kind of gathered together a list of the themes and trends that I’m seeing and hearing from clients over the years that likely will resonate with you too.

So let’s get this thing started. We’re going to go over the seven things that you’ve likely already tried to improve your finances and it’s just not working.

So number one, you have tried living extreme. That’s right. You’ve probably all seen the money gurus out there that tell you to just give it all up, live on rice and beans, eat ramen noodles, sell your bed, sleep on the floor, you know, sell your vehicle, downsize. There’s plenty of that out there when you go diving into how to get on a budget or how to save money, how to get out of debt.

And you’ll see gurus that are telling you that, Hey, you know what? You got to suck it up and you have to just give up everything. Go extreme and make some progress. And I’m not going to say that some of that mentality isn’t correct because yes, you cannot probably be dining at, all the fanciest restaurants while you’re in credit card debt and expect to be making progress. Or you can’t be going on luxury vacations and you can’t pay your mortgage. Right? So there’s gotta be some balance.

And at Fiscal Fitness, we very much believe that extreme is not going to work, at least not for the long run. And that is what I find with clients. I’ve lived that myself back in the day, Matt and I would try to get on a budget and we would cut way, way back and we’d say no more eating out and we’re only gonna spendX amount on groceries and no shopping this month.

And you can only go so long before you give it up before you would feel so much deprivation that it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore and you go off the deep end to make up for it. And so if this is you, if you are someone that has tried the, you know, we’re going to call it a fad diet, but with your money, right, where you’re going into this extreme deprivation, you’ve done it for maybe a month, two months, three months.

I’ve even seen some people that have held out and live this way for six months or more and eventually they hit a wall where they say, enough is enough. We can’t keep doing this. We have to be able to enjoy our life a little bit too in the process. And I believe that that is truly the answer.

That’s really where the magic happens is where we can find this very beautiful balance between putting some healthy constraints around what you’re doing with your finances, but not to the point of total extreme living, total deprivation, something that you’re going to be so frustrated with that you’re not going to maintain for the long run because we want your money habits to be something that grow with you and adapt with you and that you can stick with for life and no one is going to stick with that extreme extreme financial diet forever. So that is thing number one that you’re already doing that I know is not working.

Thing number two is you have tried out all the apps. That’s right. You’ve been online, you’ve been on your phone, you’re searching out the newest and latest technology, all of those apps that tell you you’re going to be so much more organized and be on top of it with your finances.

You’ve downloaded them, linked your bank accounts, set up your budgets and numbers inside of them and again, you might make it a day or three. Maybe you link your initial accounts the first day and then forget to ever go back to it until a month or two later when you remember you have this app on your phone. Maybe it’s something that you commit to using, but it feels really cumbersome and tough to learn the technology side and like it’s very tedious to go in and update everything. Maybe it’s something that you look at and every time you wind up logging in to look at it, all you’re realizing is that you’re not on track and what does that really help you with? It just makes you feel bad. So I know that the clients that we work with have tried these different programs. They have been out there testing the different apps, testing the different methods.

It’s not that they haven’t given the effort that they haven’t researched it or tried various options. And I’m not saying that all of the programs out there aren’t effective. There are certainly some people that love them that use them and are very technically savvy. They love the technology side. They really get into that and it helps them to really stay on track. I know there are a couple out there that are actually very useful. I think a lot of them out there are not so useful because all they’re really doing is showing your past behavior, your past spending, and there’s nothing you can do about it once it’s done. So we believe in having a plan that looks forward and creating a system that you can use for life that’s going to teach you how to plan and forecast and avoid the pitfalls before you’re in the middle of them.

And I know that most of the apps out there simply are very retroactive. They’re looking backwards and they’re telling you, “Oh, you overspent again. Now what are you going to do?” And you don’t know.

Number three, this is another thing that you likely have been trying and it’s not working so well and that is, you’ve probably tried to budget. Yes. People tell me when they don’t really understand the industry of financial coaching or what it is that I do. And you know, these are people who maybe they’ve just always been naturally good with their money, right? Like we all have something that we’re very naturally gifted in that we don’t need a lot of help. My two boys are very naturally gifted in like art and music and they just pick it up very easily. It’s not hard for them, but to go and do writing is maybe harder or math is maybe harder.

Same for us as adults. There are things that we’re naturally skilled at and those things that we aren’t, and some people are very naturally gifted with their money and with budgeting it’s very simple to them. And those that find it simple will say things to me like, “well, don’t people just understand that they’re supposed to spend less than they make.” They’ll simplify it and you know, belittle people so much. It breaks my heart and infuriates me a little bit because I know that the clients I work with are not, they’re not stupid people. They know all of these concepts. In fact, they’ve probably researched them and studied them more than the people who don’t need me. They’ve put forth a significant amount of effort to try to manage their finances because they want it to be better. They want it to be good and they’re just not finding that method that’s working well for them.

So they’ve probably tried to budget and they’ve hopped online, Googled for a budget template or budget tutorials, budget videos on YouTube and they’ve tried to set up their budget and at the end of the month if they make it that long, they look at it again and say, “shoot, it didn’t go exactly as I planned and now I’ve got to revamp and start over and recreate a new budget for the next month.”

I know what this, like. I did this for years. I was one of those budgeters like crazy. Oh my gosh. The amount of hours that I spent creating budgets for our family, trying to figure out where all of our money was going, putting pen to paper every single Saturday morning. I am an early riser. I would always wake up way before Matt first thing in the morning and on Saturday mornings that was my day to go and budget out for the week, the month and then I would get carried away and I’d go months and months into advance cause it was always really fun to see where we would really get ahead.

It was very exciting to think that there was going to be that day, but it might be three months down the road where we would see a really significant gain and that would feel so good. And me seeing that written out on paper helped me to feel engaged and excited with what we were doing that day. But every single weekend I was starting over and doing it different. And it’s because the traditional style of budgeting simply does not work. It just is not effective for the great majority of people. It doesn’t take into effect the actual timing of how money comes in and out of our lives and all the intricacies that are involved in that. It does not fully encapsulate all of our behaviors and our patterns in our lifestyle. And the values and things that we want to be spending our money on and when we can’t put that all down on a list and just follow it from Monday through Friday, then the budget doesn’t work.

And so I know that you have probably tried using a budget in the past and are frustrated by the fact that it seems like you’re constantly recreating it or that you start it and then kind of abandon it or go back and look at the end of the month and you feel like you’re just entering numbers and retracing your steps and trying to get caught back up to see how far off you were, how close you stayed to the budget and it feels really tedious and it’s not providing all that much value for the amount of effort that’s going into it. I see it all the time. I promise you that you’re not alone. This is something that we do different at Fiscal Fitness, so if you want to learn a different way to budget, that is exactly what we’re here for.

All right. Thing number four that you likely have tried already and it’s just not working, is when you are in a partnership, you are in a marriage, you’re living with your long term somebody and you’re splitting your finances.

You have tried flip-flopping and responsibilities on who’s going to handle the bills because neither one of you really loves to do it. Now, let’s be honest, most people do not love to manage their bills, right? Most people don’t love to be the one that gets to sit down and pay all of the bills every week. But I think that once you begin to develop some confidence around it and start to see that you’re reaching goals along the way, it doesn’t become so burdensome. It actually starts to feel really fulfilling to know that it’s done and you took care of it and you can see the progress that you’re making.

But generally speaking, it’s not the thing that’s going to make you want to have a party. It’s not the most fun part of your entire week. And I will see so often with couples where they feel frustrated with their finances. And so they think, you know what, it’s not going so well. It’s not working the way that we want it to work. And one party has been the one responsible for the majority of managing the budget and paying the bills and they say let’s just try flipping responsibility and see if that helps because I don’t know clearly what I’m doing isn’t working. Now you give it a try and so they passed the buck over to the other partner in the relationship who also probably doesn’t feel super excited about doing it and probably doesn’t feel all that much more prepared but in that moment thinks let’s just try it. Let’s see what happens. I’ll give it a go and they take on the responsibility.

This may happen frequently, this may happen every few years. I see this very often with couples who say that they’ve had a long time stressor around their finances and there has been this disconnect about how they’re handling it and it’s like “you just try it then cause I’m done. What I’m doing isn’t working. I got to remove myself from the situation right now and let someone else try” and then that person will get sick of it and then it’ll go back to the other. And it’s tough. It’s really tough. And it’s so hard when you’re in a relationship because of course you don’t want to be telling your spouse or your partner, no, no one wants to be the boss. No one wants to have to be the one that’s being the poopoo party and always saying we can’t do things. And so when we have this abdication of responsibility by passing it over to the other person, it puts so much pressure on them then and there’s no joint effort that goes into it. And that’s really what we want to see with a successful way of managing money is that both parties are involved.

There’s a system that you both understand, you both know the numbers that are the correct amounts for you and know where to look to find that information. And so it takes the pressure off of one or the other where you don’t have to be the one saying, no, I’m sorry, but you can’t go shopping today because we don’t have money in that account or we don’t have money available for that. They can look and find it themselves and they’re both on the same page and so they can understand the answer and don’t even have to ask the question. There’s no making someone feel bad about it anymore because everyone’s on the same page. So a big thing that I will see with couples is this sort of flip flop on who’s responsible or not, both necessarily being engaged. And I don’t really believe that both couples should necessarily have to be paying the bills.

Two people don’t need to sit down together and pay the bills. It’s very normal in a relationship where one person would rather do it than the other. It’s just a little bit better at it or doesn’t mind it as much. And so they’re the one that will do that. But they both have conversations. They both come together, they both understand what their goals are. And they’re working in tandem towards reaching them and that really is the piece that’s oftentimes missing when I sit down with couples for the first time.

Number five. One of the other things that you’ve been trying that probably isn’t solving all of the problems is that you’ve tried just switching all of your bills over to auto pay because you don’t want any more late fees. You’ve had some, it was a problem. You got busy forgot to send the bill in, forgot to pay it, and so now it’s just turn it all on auto pay and let it go.

And the nice thing is that yes, you’re not going to have any more late fees because everything’s on auto pay unless it’s auto drafting and you forgot the date that it’s auto drafting and you don’t have enough money in your bank account that day. I truly believe that when we have everything on auto pay, it almost makes bill paying more complicated because there could be things drafting from our account at almost every day of the paying. I mean we could have something on the third, the fifth, the seventh, the 10th the 13th all the way through the month and we have to almost be hyper-vigilant every single day. Trying to remember what’s still coming, what might come out today? What’s coming this coming week? How much is going to be left?

Once that comes out before the next payday, we’re constantly doing these mental calculations in the back of our head and it’s a little bit abstract because we’re trying to figure that out amongst all of the other expenses that we have in life.

Like getting groceries and gas and meeting a friend for lunch and you know, buying things for the kids fall festival and my goodness, it’s that time of year around here. And let me tell you, it seems like every time I turn around there’s another $10 or $25 request from the school or from activities and we’re trying to make all of those decisions. And then we’ve got auto pays drafting all month long and we’re trying to keep track of it mentally in our head, but yet we don’t have to be super engaged in it because we know it’s on auto pay and so there’s this feeling of I don’t have to pay attention because it’s on auto pay and also I have to constantly be thinking about it because there’s more bills that are drafting and when are they coming and it’s really causing you so much more mental energy than if you were just in charge of it and you paid your bills all in lumps like every payday.

That’s what I really like to do is just lump all the bills together and when the paycheck comes in, you pay everything that’s coming up and then you don’t have to think about anything for another two weeks until the next paycheck comes in and you do the same thing all over again.

Let’s try to streamline the process. You giving up responsibility for it and putting it on auto pay is actually hurting you more. It’s actually giving you more mental angst because you’re having to constantly be on the lookout for the next time something’s going to draft. So that is another thing I’m pretty sure many of you have tried to do in an effort to make it better and you probably aren’t feeling like things are all that much better.

The next thing, number six on my list is that you’ve tried what your friends are doing.

You’ve tried what they’re recommending. Your friend manages their money in X way and they’re saying, “Oh gosh, it works so great for us. You should really do it. Or Oh, I read this book and it was perfect and you should do it.” And you’ve tried picking up what your friends are saying, but yet it’s not really sticking as much as you want to try to force that round peg through a square hole or a square peg through a round hole. How does that saying go? You know what I mean? But it’s just not fitting together. And it could be for any number of reasons, right?

Because everyone’s personality is a little different. Everyone’s lifestyle is a little different. Your values are different and so what works for your friend or your family member may not be the thing that works for you. And what’s really sad is that you may have tried doing the same thing that your family or friend has recommended and then you might feel this sense of shame or embarrassment because it didn’t work for you like it did for them and you’re thinking something is wrong with me or why can’t I get this?

Why is it so hard? They make it sound like it’s so easy and I just believe that everyone looks at things a little bit differently. And so that’s part of the benefit of what we provide it to our clients when we work with them one on one and coaching is that I really want to understand what motivates them and what excites them, what their personality style is, what their pattern of living is, and how their day to day life looks. So that we can really put together some systems and habits that are inline with what’s easy for them, with what makes sense for them and what gets them to their goals as quickly as possible. So if you’ve been listening to your friends or listening to your family and they’ve been telling you, you should really do it this way, but it’s just not working for you, it’s okay.

It’s not you. I promise there’s something that will work for you. We just have to figure out what that is. And I believe it’s through experimentation and having some insights likely from a professional who’s dealt with other individuals and seen what works for some people and what doesn’t work for others. So that’s really a part of the benefit of having a coach that can help you.

Number seven on the list, so things that you’ve tried to help with your money that aren’t really helping. I love this one you guys, it’s so silly, but you’ve tried to make more money, right? You’ve tried to increase your education to get the promotion at work, to apply for the job that has the higher salary to pick up a side hustle. You have done everything to make yourself very marketable and go out and earn more money, make that income, bring more home and you are still feeling like you’re not getting ahead as fast as you want.

This one is tough. This one is really tough, especially if you’re someone who is a professional that you’ve gone to school for quite a long period of time. You’ve invested a lot of money in your education, in gaining your expertise. You’ve worked in an industry and gained so much knowledge over a period of time that you are making good money. And I see this so often because we work with a lot of business owners and professionals who are doing very well and they still are feeling like they are not making the progress that they want to, that they will tell m, “I feel really ashamed of where I’m at right now because I should be doing so much better. I thought that I would have so much more for myself. I thought I’d have more to show for the money that I’ve earned. I’m exhausted, I’m frustrated, I’ve invested so much money in my education, but I feel like I’m not making the best use of the income that I’m making now.”

And it is really tough when you’re feeling this way that you, you know, look around at your peers or at your, you know, neighbors or coworkers and you think, why do I feel like I’m so far behind? I’m so frustrated that this isn’t clicking for me. I know I’m a smart person. I know that I’ve put in the time and the effort and yet this one thing is really holding me back and I’m really starting to see how that’s happening for me. And sometimes the answer seems, well I just need to go and make more money. And if that is the answer, if it’s always more money, you are going to work yourself into a grave. It is impossible for you to continue to earn and earn and earn more without learning how to manage what you have.

And I say this with the most love and the most understanding for where you’re at and you know empathy for what it’s like to be in that position because I know exactly what that feels like. But to believe that the answer is to always earn more. If you don’t solve the underlying problem, which is the habits that you have around your money and the systems that you have in place to support you in being successful, then you’re never going to see that long lasting reward. What we will see is that people will go back to school or they’ll apply for the job or they’ll get the promotion at work and very quickly their lifestyle adjusts to that new level.

And at the worst stage of this, I will see people who are working; I mean insane hours and they’re at a job that they hate. I mean they hate it. They are exhausted and stressed and having panic attacks or are in a depression or you know, feel so trapped and they have no flexibility anymore because their lifestyle has adapted to that level of income and they don’t know how to solve that.

And it is such an awful trap to find yourself there. But they call it the golden handcuffs. Because you are getting paid really well, but you have found yourself trapped in this job that you don’t have any ability to leave. You know, if you were to walk away, the chances of finding a job that pays you as well as this one is right now is to be really hard to do. And so you feel as though there’s no options.

And I can speak from firsthand experience because my husband just went through this. He had been working in, it was in project management, was on this career path to make six figures and you know, that was always what he thought was important and what he thought that he needed to do. But he was miserable doing it, hated it. It was the most unsuited career for him.

It was not in line with the things that he truly loved and valued. And once he finally left that it took a number of years to figure out what was next. The good thing was the company went under, so he had to leave. So at that point, you know, sometimes getting laid off is the biggest blessing in the whole world. And so him losing that job, that career going down the toilet really made us have to scramble to figure it out. Initially it put us in a really bad place, but over time now he was able to make an extreme career change into something that he loves, which he’s teaching now. He’s actually teaching financial literacy, which is really crazy that we’re both now in this industry of teaching people about money and he is so happy and so fulfilled, but it is a big pay cut from what he was doing before.

And if we didn’t have our finances in order, if we hadn’t found a way to adjust what we were doing to manage our money in a better way, he would have never had the possibility to actually do that. He would have had to go back to a career in it where his education was, where his background was getting the job that he hated doing every single day just to make the paycheck. And so I’ve lived through a scene what that is.

I lived through it myself, my prior career. I was not happy with it, but it was a really good income producing career. And so I stayed there for more years than I wanted to. And I know firsthand that earning more money would not have made life better for us, for either of us if we were doing something that we hated. And so the answer is in learning how to manage the money that you have now, how to be effective with the money that you have now and be able to create that flexibility and freedom for yourself, which is a major game changer.

Okay guys, so I went through the seven things that you’ve likely tried and they aren’t helping you and so it was.


  1. Living extreme. You’re living on rice and beans.
  2. You’ve tried all those different budgeting apps out there.
  3. You’ve been on a budget, you know what it is, you’ve tried it, but it’s still not working.
  4. You’ve tried swapping the bill, paying responsibilities, your couple relationship to see if someone else can do it better.
  5. You’ve tried switching all of those bills over to auto pay so that it simplifies life and that you’re finding that you’re feeling even more overwhelmed.
  6. You’ve tried doing what your friends or family recommend and it’s just not sticking.
  7. You’ve been trying your best to increase education, get those promotions, build your career, earn more money, and still you’re feeling like this isn’t working.



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