What stops you from having your dream life? What is stopping you from having your life exactly as you want it?

We’ve thought about this a LOT when it comes to business. Over the past decade at the Rebel Business School we have been asking people what stops them from starting a business. We can say with certainty that there are 3 main barriers to building a business. They are fear (or lack of confidence), finances and knowing what to do first!

Alan Donegan - Rebel Finance School. Thinking

What’s stopping you from having your financial life exactly as you want it?

These 3 clear barriers are what we tackle first and this helps people make progress quickly.  The objective is to build a business making money doing what they love, but first we need to get past the barriers!

​My wife, Katie, and I have become fascinated by finances and since running our first finance course we have been trying to understand what stops people from getting their finances in order.

At the beginning of that course we asked everyone that signed up “What stops you having your finances the way you want them?” What do you think they said? What do you think stops people from fixing their financial situation?

The biggest barriers to financial success


Please stop reading right now and think about what is stopping you having your finances exactly as you want them.  Make a list! Ask yourself the question “what is stopping me from having my finances exactly as I want them?”

This question uncovers real and perceived barriers that you can then work to overcome! If you never take the time to uncover what is stopping you, how can you overcome it?

At the beginning of the first Rebel Finance School course, over 200 people told us what their biggest barriers were. We spent the rest of the eight week course helping people to overcome these barriers and get to the next level.

The 3 biggest barriers stopping the people on our first course where:

  1. Knowledge – finance, investing, the rules of the game of money
  2. Emotions around money – money is a tough subject at times
  3. Not earning enough – how can you save if you don’t earn enough to live?

Here are some ideas to help you overcome the three biggest barriers that stop people from getting their finances in order.


Investing, money and tax are complex and challenging subjects.  This is also exacerbated by the financial industry because they need to make things sound complex to justify their high fees!  I was contacted by a friend who wanted some help with his pension this week.  He had received the paperwork from the pension company but couldn’t understand it.

He sent it to me for help and as I looked at it my heart sank!  It was a tough read.  This is one of the sentences that baked my noodle and took about an hour to figure out.

“On the first valuation date in each calendar month “Company X” will be entitled to deduct a management charge of 1/16th% of that portion of a Fund represented by Accumulation units (1/24% if index fund, 1/12% if aggressive Growth Fund) and 13/48 of that portion of a fund represented by initial units (1/4% if index fund, 7/24% if aggressive Growth Fund).”

How the heck is your average person meant to make head or tails of this stuff?  I can understand why people say they lack knowledge.  In some ways it is not a lack of knowledge but a lack of clarity and plain English from the financial companies.

There is an entirely new language to learn when investing.  In fact I would liken it to learning Spanish or another language.  You need to know what these terms mean: dividends, stocks, equities, capital gains and more.  Finance has it’s own language.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to change the language used by the investment companies to something that your average person can understand but that is a difficult thing to do and would require me campaigning and getting legislation passed.

It is far easier for me to help you understand the language of finance than to get them to change.  That is the place to start.  Learning little by little each week.

The problem is many people just repeat a blanket phrase such as “I am not good at maths” or “it’s all double, dutch to me” and they give up.  They don’t even bother trying to learn.

It isn’t going to make sense until you sit down, study and then apply what you have learnt.  It can be learnt and just like any language it is just going to take time and effort.

Are you willing to put in that time and effort to sort out your finances and live the life of your dreams?  Or do you want to avoid doing the hard work required and bury your head in the sand?

The cure…………

Study.  It doesn’t sound sexy but it can be exciting.  The only real way to get to grips with this stuff is to learn it and then experiment with it.  The most exciting thing is that there are so many free resources for you to be able to do this.  There is probably more content that you could ever consume so it comes down to where are you going to start?

The sheer volume of content can be overwhelming.  Just like dieting or weight loss there are endless books that give contradictory advice.  This is HIGHLY frustrating.  I have read books that seemed interesting but after reading them I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do about it. You need to find the right books and content to help you.

Here are some blogs that you could start with:

  1. Mr Money Mustache – this is THE blog of the FI world.  Pete writes about investing, being frugal, changing the way you think and happiness.  My wife and I have avidly consumed his content.
  2. AlanDonegan.com – is it bad to recommend your own blog articles?  I have written a lot over the last three years so if you want to get started with finances this will make it easy to get going
    1. What are you spending your money on?  Have you ever caught yourself saying “I don’t know where all the money goes!”  The first step to taking control of your finances is to work out where the money goes and what you are spending it on
    2. How much does it take to retire?  Behind Financial Independence is some simple maths to work out how much you need to retire.  Don’t worry about knowing how to get there we can help you with that!
    3. How much are you worth?  If I asked you right now to tell me your net-worth could you?  If you don’t know how much you have, how do you know if it is going in the right direction or not?

If you don’t like reading then you are in luck as there is a Financial Independence podcast.  In fact there are quite a few!

ChooseFI was started by Brad and Jonathan.  Brad had already achieved financial independence at the time they started and Jonathan was on the journey and they interviewed all of the members of the community. They give great advice and inspiration.  A lot of the content is US focused so if you are British or from another country skip the episodes on US taxes!  Start with the 10 Pillars of Financial Independence

Rebel Finance School

Or you could come along to the next Rebel Finance School.  Katie and I have created this to help people get control of their finances.  We hit our Financial Independence number about 3 years ago and it has been incredible for us.  The freedom to live our lives, work on the projects we want to and travel.  We want to help as many other people as possible get in control of their finances and live an incredible life.

Introduction session

​Katie and I are running an introductory Rebel Finance School session on YouTube live on Tuesday 19th October at 8pm UK time.  You are welcome to join us, meet us and we will give you the starting tools to get going.   It is completely free (just like everything we do!) and online so you can join us wherever you are in the world.

There is SO much free content and everything you need to know to get in control of your finances and make progress towards your financial goals is available to you.  Just start reading, making notes and learning.

When you don’t know a word look it up.  Get a new notebook and some coloured pens (I love new stationery!) and start to make notes.   Treat it as a fun learning project that could change your financial future.

Emotions around money

I was about 19 years old and sat in a Chinese restaurant in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire.  I was with my Mum and my Dad and after dinner we had an argument.  I can’t even remember what the argument was about but I remember the pain vividly.  I wanted to escape, to run out of that restaurant there and then.

I felt guilty that my Dad paid for my dinner but I wanted to get out of there and away from him as quickly as possible.  I took £20 out of my pocket and put it on the table to pay for my share of the meal and started to leave.

This sent my father into a rage.  He grabbed the £20 note and throw it back at me screaming “when you are with me I pay for dinner, this is insulting”.  He was so angry.  I took my money and ran out of the restaurant crying.

That incident and several others left me with a feeling, a belief, that I wanted nothing to do with money.  I believed that money caused problems and arguments.  I had a tumultuous relationship with money and with my father growing up and these incidents created negative false beliefs and associations inside me.

It took me years of workshops, study and journaling to deal with my emotions and negative beliefs around money.  It can be such a septic subject and if left undealt with can rip families apart as it has done to mine in many many ways.

The number one reason for divorce is money.  I am absolutely positive that money is at the root of a lot of arguments for families and couples.  It is a difficult and emotional subject to talk about.

This is something I am on a mission to change.  I want to help people feel comfortable talking about money, connecting over it and working together to sort it out.

Starting to change this

​Changing emotions and beliefs around money is a long journey.  A lot of the negative emotions around money come from earlier in life, things our parents say, being scolded for asking how much a parent earns or other formative experiences.

This can take work to shift, but it is possible, it can be done.

As a child you are not responsible for the negative programming your parents and society gives you.  But, as an adult you are 100% responsible for changing it.

Working on your beliefs, emotions and mindset in relation to money is not easy but it has the power to transform your relationship with money and therefore your life.

Let me give you three different ways to start working on your emotions around money.

The first is to start talking about money with the people around you.  Katie and I have started some fascinating conversations about money using questions like “What did your parents teach you about money?”  If you can find a comfortable setting, maybe out for a meal, create a relaxed atmosphere and then ask questions it is amazing how the people around you will open up.

Try taking your friend out for coffee, or making dinner for your family and asking questions such as “did anyone ever teach you about money?”  or “what do you think about when someone mentions money?” or even “how do you think it is going financially?”

Be patient and careful as this is a hot topic and can push buttons.  Ask your questions and wait and listen.  Start talking about money and opening up about it.  You will be amazed at what comes up, what you start talking about and where the conversations lead.

Secondly Katie and I believe massively in journaling to uncover your thoughts and feelings.  Journaling is just getting a pen and paper and writing out your thoughts, or grabbing your phone and typing out your ideas.  We like to use a series of questions to get us thinking and then we write and write.  Get all those thoughts about money out!

We recently wrote an article about Your relationship with money.  And then for more on journaling and the prompt questions read this article we wrote about creating your money philosophy.

Or thirdly, do the Rebel Finance School with someone you want to connect with over this subject.  This is absolutely the time to use Katie and me as an excuse to connect with someone over money.  Invite them on the course; if they won’t do that ask them to chat it through with you afterwards; if they won’t do that ask them to be accountable and ask you questions about the course each week to keep you on track.

We had one couple come along to the last course and he was on the zoom call and she listened from the sofa next to him!  They ended up having great conversations about their finances.

Find a way to use the course to open up conversations.  Ideally you would do the course together.  Some of the biggest tension Katie and I had in the early days was when I would do courses on my own. I would sign up to some amazing course. I would get inspired for a week and come home full of energy and excitement and Katie would ask me; with genuine interest “tell me about the course?”  I would try and tell her but how can I capture a week of energy, excitement and discussion in a ten minute de-brief. I would invariably do a bad job of explaining what the presenters explained so eloquently and then be disappointed Katie wasn’t as excited as I was.  It would all fall to pieces after this.

After this happened a few times we made a pact to never go on another course without the other person. We would do them together.  We flew to Ecuador together to do Chautauqua and that was one of the most incredible life changing events I have ever experienced. We flew to Florida together to do some NLP courses, we went to Birmingham together to see Gary Vaynerchuk speak.  We did it all together.

If you can, get your friends, family, partner, kids to do the course with you.  This will help you to bond and learn together.

You could even make it pleasurable!  Set up a projector in the back garden with some comfy furniture and make some food.  You could turn it into a party!  You could put Alan and Katie on the big screen in the lounge, open a bottle of wine, make some popcorn and settle in together.

Get creative and make learning and finances fun.  This stuff doesn’t have to be boring.  It could be the fun highlight of your week and a time to bond with the people you care about.

​You are only limited by your imagination.

I don’t earn enough

There are so many beliefs wrapped up into this one.  The rich get richer.  The poor get poorer.  It takes money to make money.  It takes millions to be able to retire early.  It all leads back to “I need a metric ton of money to be able to set myself up and I am NEVER going to earn that much.”

There are a few steps to take with this one:

  1. Get to grips with your spending and work out where your money is going.  For every pound you stop spending you will feel wealthier at the end of the month
  2. Plug the leaks in your financial boat.  If you have any high interest debt (over 15% interest) then this needs tackling quick. Debt can sink your financial boat so quickly and you end up working just to pay the ever increasing interest
  3. Work on increasing your income.  There are so many different ways to increase your income.  I recently created a blog and article with 10 ways to increase your income.  Listen to the podcast below or read the article.

Rebel Finance School

Katie and I created the Rebel Finance School to help you over come these and the myriad of other barriers that stop people from having their finances how they want them.  It is a completely free ten week course held on zoom.  You can attend from where ever you are in the world, time zone permitting!

We have just finished one course and won’t be running the next one for a while but, you can find out more about the Rebel Finance School here and sign up and come along.  Our aim is to help you get in control of your finances and start to build the life of your dreams.

If you can’t wait until the next full course, we have an Introduction session on Tuesday 19th October, 8pm UK time .

If you click on the link you can schedule a reminder on YouTube so you make sure you catch it live!

Change your thinking

My business partner Simon is fond of saying “if you want to change your results in life you need to change the way you think”

It all starts with changing your thinking about finances and money.  If you can transform your relationship with money you will transform your results and your bank balance.

Let’s start the project together and work towards creating financial abundance in your life.

Donegan life update

A mini-Donegan update.  We are in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the moment and eating far too much.  We went to a friends wedding and had a spiffing time dancing and laughing.  Next up for us is working on a TV show project and then off to Colombia to help set up the Rebel Business School Colombia!

​​Alan is working on the Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast. He is recording Season 3 and 4 of the Rebel Coaching series right now and developing episodes.   Click here to find out more about the Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast which is designed to help you build a business without debt!


Katie seemed to be featured in just about every paper in the UK this week and received a real mix of abusive messages and ultimate positivity!  She has also been having fun analysing ESG funds and working out in the park!

​Thank you for reading the blog, coming on this journey with us and please remember nothing changes until you do.  This whole journey starts with you.  Take action and make it happen.  Good luck and let me know what you think in the comments!

Join the Donegan mailing list

Leave A Comment

Related Articles

  • what do you want

    By Published On: May 2, 2019

    One sunny morning in 2009, I was walking from Waterloo Station, London over the bridge towards Trafalgar square. It was a stunning morning and I was listening to a CD set by Brian Tracy about goal setting. As I listened, soaking up the words, walking through the busy streets, I started to feel a [...]

  • what do you want

    By Published On: November 4, 2019

    What happens when you put yourself out into the world? How will the world react? Why don't more people do it? Two weeks ago whilst in Portugal in the Douro Valley at an Airbnb with a piano, Katie (my wife) sat down and started playing a new tune. She composed a brand new song, which [...]

  • what do you want

    By Published On: December 24, 2018

    There is different for different's sake and then there is doing things differently to get different results. ​One of the sayings that we repeat over and over again at the Rebel Business School is: if you want different results, do something different.  But what does that actually mean? Alan burning a business plan If you [...]