10/20/2010 10:24 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Why All the Weirdness About Money?

We're weird about money. We want it. But nobody wants to talk about it.

Sometimes - like on a date or at a class reunion - we pretend like we have it, when
we don't.

Other times - like when we see a homeless person or our kids whine for designer
jeans - we pretend we don't have any, when in fact we do.

I come from a long line of money weirdness. My parents fought about money. But
they told us that it was rude to talk about money.

My grandfather was so weird about money that he changed out all the light bulbs
in his house to 15-watt bulbs. He had money when he died. But I don't think he
enjoyed it much after he passed away.

A Marist Institute poll published in USA Today reveals that over 55% of Americans
"always" or "sometimes" worry about money. So all those times when we could be
enjoying our family, improving our performance at work, watching a funny movie or
walking in the park, there's a running commentary in our head fretting and worrying
about next month's VISA bill.

One reason so many people are so stressed out about money is that they owe more
than they make. As a person who once grossly overpaid for a business and went deeply
into debt to finance it, I can't really take the moral high ground on this one.
I know all too well what it feels like to lie awake at night with your heart pounding,
worrying about how you're going to cover your expenses.

We act like money is only one part of our lives. But when your financial life is
a mess, it overshadows everything else. It's hard to be a fully present parent,
spouse or employee when you're constantly preoccupied by how much you owe VISA.

Like it or not, money affects every area of your life - your job, your relationships,
your health, even your spirituality. Because when you're worried about money, it
chips away at your soul.

If you're in a bad money situation, there are basically only two solutions: earn
more, or spend less. If you can do both at the same time, you'll fix your situation
even faster.

It's a pretty obvious solution, one that financial gurus like Dave Ramsey and Suze
have been preaching for years.

Yet time and time again, we're drawn into believing that we can improve our life
with stuff; we confuse needs with wants, and there we are again, staring down a
big stack of bills, finding ourselves with more month than money.

If I've learned one thing through the ups and downs of a business disaster, it's
this: You can't fix a problem you won't talk about.

The only effective way to start solving a money problem is with a pencil, paper,
a calculator and an unflinchingly honest conversation with all the parties involved.

Because if we're honest, we already know that spending less than you make is the
only way to get ahead. We also know that creating a family budget will keep you
on track, and that you have to plan for your financial future rather than let it
just happen.

We know it; I just wonder why we don't do it? Like I said, we're weird about money.

Lisa Earle McLeod is keynote speaker, author, columnist and business consultant who specializes in sales and leadership training. Her newest book, The Triangle of Truth, has been cited as the blueprint for "how smart people can get better at everything." Visit for a short video intro.