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Pitfalls of Personal Finance: Confessions of a Mom Entrepreneur, Part One

Today all I can do is get up and get coffee. Today is one of those days to trust in the wisdom of the circumstances rather than trying to figure out how to solve them. How did I get here? Six years after working my butt off building a small scale, successful real estate investment portfolio, now I’m considering waitressing? I often hear similar stories from other entrepreneurs, at some point in the growth of their businesses: Set your dream in front of you, and be prepared to serve food if it doesn’t work out. This morning I’m putting on my apron.

GreenSherpa is going great. It’s exceeding expectations and reshaping the financial management practice of thousands. But my first solo business endeavor, barely older than my eldest child and dear in the way its success made me feel capable and effective and productive, is getting eaten alive by the economy. That and my misperceptions of what it takes to save the world and everybody in it while feeding the kids and making decisions about my own finances.

Saving Money, Saving the World
As an entrepreneur excited about my offering, I was head down, focused, driven, even manic, making cool stuff that falls outside of my own personal financial space. But, recently, my overstuffed inbox at home woke me up from a fog I’ve been in for two to three years. Who the heck has been running this show? I would have fired me a year ago.

I realized I completely took myself away from the home, from the driver’s seat, and didn’t put anyone else in charge of my finances. At work, I was talking about personal finance and creating software, blogging survival tips, and paying attention to monthly cash flow for thousands of Green Sherpa users. But I wasn’t keeping up myself. I brought my personal skills to the job, but didn’t bring my job skills home. I stopped paying attention.

Being a mom entrepreneur takes a complete merging of intuition, professional skill sets, and a perpetual seat in Life Skills 101. You have to mind your checkbook, manage your cash flow, look into your future, and let it balance your present. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking beyond three months. I was plodding away in a mode of starvation. And this was my fatal flaw. No matter how lean the present gets, you have to keep looking at the goal you’ve set in front of you and factor it into the budget, time-wise and attention-wise if nothing else.

Paying the Steepest Price
Teachers learn by doing first, right? I have been “doing” a long time, and teaching what I learn all along. Now I know what it means first hand to be unconsciously in action … and I now know a deeper level of experience that tells me the key component of anything is to be conscious; conscious spending, conscious eating, conscious exercise and conscious, purposeful personal finance … even when conscious means, “If you can’t do it yourself, get someone else to help you.”

I’m depressed today. Like many women, I’m realizing. But I’ve learned a lot about that feeling, and how it relates to my falling down on the job at home. There’s a way through, and out. There’s a way to transform the feeling and use it for good. I’m finding it, and taking it. Stay tuned for what I’ve found, in Part Two of my Confessions.

Originally published on GreenSherpa