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After years of working with high-earning female executives, I’ve found that their cash flow management problems are not a matter of not having enough income or wealth. The problem is not knowing where it’s going.

Some of my high-earning clients are not terribly happy with their lives, so they get temporary gratification by spending money at will. They get a fleeting satisfaction from the things they buy; afterward, however, the money and the satisfaction are gone, and they are no closer to living life the way they want than they were before.

As it happens, these are usually the same clients who estimate their monthly expenses and come out with what looks like a surplus at the end, even when they came to me knowing that they are in the red. What this shows me is that they don’t know where they are spending. Once these clients get a real grasp of where they are spending their money, they can choose to do it differently.

Awareness and management of cash flow is a huge piece to financial planning, yet I’ve encountered few financial planners doing it for their clients. Admittedly, it is a time-consuming process, but I have found it to be tremendously successful for every one of my female executive clients.

By getting your cash flow under control and having a strategy around it, you can be assured of having the money you need to live the life you want.

The dangers of entitlement

I have a client in San Francisco, one of the country’s most expensive places to live. Together, she and her husband make a healthy income every year. Nevertheless, they are still renting an apartment because they can’t afford to buy a home. A closer look at their finances revealed that their expenses are way out of line. They feel like there will always be more money, so why should they worry about spending a little extra here and there? But it doesn’t help them save money, either for a house or (as this client recently informed me) for the $38,000 tuition bill for each of their two kids to attend preschool.

When you work hard, it’s easy to feel justified in spending it in any way that feels good at the time. This doesn’t only happen when you feel miserable with your job, your schedule, or life in general. It’s true even in the good times, when you are making good money and expect there will always be more money on its way next month. But in either case, this kind of spending doesn’t allow you to get any closer to funding the life you want.