Understanding your relationship with money is essential, because it will govern how money shows up in your life.
It is a deeply emotional connection, which you won't even be aware of until you start to peel back the layers and find the underlying beliefs, which give birth to the feelings that govern your relationship with money.
Let’s define the meaning of ‘relationship’ in this context. According to the online dictionary, the definition of ‘relationship’ is ‘the way in which two or more people or things are connected’.
How do you connect with money?
When you think about your relationships with people, you know whether it's a good relationship, a difficult one or even a bad one. Whether it's a close connection or a distant one.
Then there are the emotions attached to them. The good relationships, for example, probably make you feel happy, loved and secure. You love to be around these people. Whereas the difficult ones will engender different emotions like anger, jealousy or even fear.
But when it comes to money many of us don’t even give it a second thought. We’re not used to thinking of money in terms of a relationship, and because of that, often there is no contemplation on what state your relationship with money is in…
Money is an integral part of our lives, we often interact with it multiple times a day. Therefore, it’s important your relationship is healthy; because like it or not, if you have a dysfunctional relationship with money, it will impact not just your financial wellbeing, but your whole life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself so you can begin to uncover whether your relationship with money is supporting or undermining your financial wellbeing.
Think about how you feel when you do the following things:
What emotions are you feeling when you pay your monthly bills such as groceries, car payments or utilities, do you feel any kind of resentment or worry, a sense of there not being enough to go around? Or do you feel a deep thankfulness about what your money is allowing you to have or do?
When unexpected situations arise, such as car repairs or vet bills, is there a sense of irritation that this expense has cropped up or even panic. Or maybe you feel grateful that you have the money to pay for it.
When people are talking about money do you feel comfortable or do you try to change the subject or avoid the conversation?
And how do you feel about people who have a lot of money vs those who have very little? Are there any negative feelings associated with either end of the spectrum? Do you feel jealous or guilty?
If you receive money as a gift, do you feel happy receiving it… or does it make you feel a little uncomfortable? If so, ask yourself why that is? Maybe it’s a feeling of being unworthy or feeling indebted to the giver.
What do you feel about your income (whether it’s a salary/wage, or payment from your own clients)? Do you feel satisfied that you’ve done a good job for a fair reward? Or maybe you’re at the other end of the scale and feel angry that you work so hard and receive so little, but yet you still carry on doing it each month.
A great way to work with this is to have a close friend, or your coach ask you the questions and once you've answered them, journal about the feelings and emotions that come up. Then come up with one sentence that expresses what you’ve learnt about the emotions that come up around money.
How do you behave around money? Do you hang onto it, or do you let it flow? Again, explore your answers to the questions below, and then try to sum up the revelations in one sentence.
Do you put off paying bills, even though you have the money, or do you pay your bills immediately?
Would you rather spend more time searching for a ‘bargain’ than save time and just buy something that you need in the first store you go into.
Does money govern your social life? For example, do you turn down invitations because of the cost, like going to the movies with friends? Or put off inviting people over for dinner? Or are you one of those people who always offer to pay for everyone... even when you don't really want to, or can't afford to?
Do you put off doing things you want to do (or even need to do) because of not wanting the spend the money – such as going to the hairdresser, getting your car serviced, or even going to the dentist? Yeah, I know - we ALL put off going to the dentist! But do you also hold back because of the cost?
Can I trust you? ☺
Yeah... I knew I could!
So.... before you read below... grab a piece of paper and jot down the 5 most important things in your life.... It could be your children, your pets, or friends, and things like time or health... Or even your lifestyle.
Now ask yourself - would you trade these items/people/attributes for anything?
Now carry on reading...
Time is by far the most common thing we trade for money. And if we want more money, usually we spend more time to get it. The irony of this is that generally we want more money so we don’t have to work so hard and can have more time.
Freedom. We work harder and longer so we can eventually have the freedom to do what we want when we want. The obvious paradox here is that we are giving up the very thing we say we want in order to have it some time in the future. Often this never happens because we never feel we have enough money to actually slow down and enjoy the very thing we think we're working to have.
Health. We often put ourselves under such pressure in the pursuit of more money that our health suffers. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying "... [man] sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health...'
Family and Relationships. Working long hours means that we spend less and less time with those we love. Apparently Americans spend about 40 minutes each week playing with their kids. And I’m sure the rest of the ‘developed’ world isn’t much different. Whilst this can be attributed to many things, I'm sure getting home late and tired has a lot to do with it.
Money has been reported as being one of the top conflict areas for couples, many citing that disagreements about the finances were the reason they split. It's also often used as a weapon in many separations.
I’ve personally seen this from both sides, men withholding money as a form of revenge or punishment and women fighting for the lion’s share of the financial assets as a way of winning the final argument.
Happiness. Often we will spend months, even years, doing something we don’t enjoy all in the name of money. The idea is we suffer for a short time and then live it up once we get to the level of income we want. But usually it doesn’t work that way because there is never ‘enough’, there’s always one more level to get to before we can quit and ‘be happy’.
"Money will never make you happy if you’re an unhappy person."
- Robert Kiyosaki -
So what do you trade for money? What insights have you had about your relationship with money? Taking time to uncover how you feel about and behave around money, not to mention what you trade for it, is a big step towards changing how you see money and therefore, how it works in your life.
Making it a priority to develop a better understanding of your relationship with money will build strong a foundation to work from when looking to improve your financial situation.
Want to go more in depth? Find out what meanings you've attributed to money...
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