“If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance.” —Napoleon Hill
Why do most intelligent, capable people never get rich? We all (yes, you too) have the potential to create vaults of wealth that can let us become our best selves and experience a life that we can hardly imagine now.
But the vast multitude falls far short of their prosperity potential.
If you want to change your financial outcomes, then you must start with your relationship with money.
When we think of relationships, we often think of our interactions with other people. Our life experiences teach us that relationships with people can be healthy or toxic based on a number of factors. However, how many of us consider whether our relationship with money can be the same?
Why is having a good relationship with money important?
Financial wellness is an important part of our overall well-being. Financial wellness includes having a healthy relationship with money that makes us feel satisfied and not overly stressed out
So how is our relationship with money formed? It’s formed by our observations and the messaging we see and hear related to money.
Children can understand basic concepts about money as early as age 3, and by 7, their values around money are already set. Our early experiences with money, such as witnessing arguments about it or being defined by it, can trigger a range of emotions such as anxiety, resentment or feelings of elitism that we carry through life. Those experiences and emotions shape our values and relationship with money.
Based on our values, money can make us feel secure as we provide for ourselves and others we care for. Money can also make us feel insecure if we do not have the things we want.
Taking the first steps
Imagine a life where you control your money instead of your money controlling you. Don’t believe your money is in control? Do you find yourself wrestling with credit card debt you can’t pay off, or a car you can’t afford, or a house worth less than you owe on it? Do you find the “happiness” of buying something online becoming more and more of a habit?
Here are some steps you can take to start considering how to have a healthier relationship with money.
Notice your habits
To start, take some time to notice how and when you spend money. What are your patterns? What motivates you to buy things? Do you shop impulsively? What are your triggers? You might want to start a spending diary to track your habits for a month to get a better idea. Having a better understanding of how and why you spend money is a good first step to making changes.
Comparing ourselves to others and focusing on income is a never-ending treadmill of dissatisfaction. And it makes sense to make a deliberate effort to get off. Set aside time to reflect upon what you like and respect about yourself. Without comparing to other people. Focus on how you have improved or grown without worrying about how you rank. Take satisfaction in how hard work and experience develop your skills or speed.
Adjust your goals
Take a good look at your budget. Most of what we need in life is not about money. You can have a good life and spend less. While humans have a tendency to adjust our expectations upward as our income goes up, you can consciously change that. Instead of wanting more expensive things and more of them, you can choose to save new income. Instead of buying things, you can give yourself the security of having enough money.
Learn to save
Credit cards can lead us into temptation because they separate the pain of payment from the pleasure of purchasing something new.
Saving works the other way. We have the pain of less money to spend right up front. We don’t necessarily see the pleasure of having money to live on in the future. So you need to find ways to increase the incentive to save.
One way to do this is to set up savings that automatically come out of our paycheck or bank. You could arrange with your employer to put any raises that you get in your retirement account (or savings if you prefer). That way, your take-home income never goes down. So you aren’t losing spending money, but you increase your retirement savings.
Our relationship with money is embedded in our larger sense of self. You can learn more about yourself by paying closer attention to your behaviors around money. Then use this knowledge to improve your financial functioning.
Schedule a weekly money date
Having a little face time with your money will help foster a stronger relationship.
Sit down every week for about 20 minutes to review your checking and savings accounts, credit card balances. Check in on your budget, and make any changes to help improve your finances.
Just like with any relationship, you are going to make mistakes along the way. No one is perfect. Your self-worth is not dependent on these mistakes. Take these opportunities and learn from them and then move on. You might miss a credit card payment, spend too much money at the mall, or skip your savings for the month and that’s OK.
Find ways you can shift your money mindset from negative to positive and move on.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you about your relationship with money it’s this – it’s never too late.
You know you deserve more, right?Sometimes, you just need help to reach it.
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