Your Relationship with Money
How is your current relationship with your money? Calm and sunny? Stormy and full of drama? Sad and stressful? You may not have thought about it this way before, but we all have a relationship with our money. Whether it is a positive or negative one doesn’t depend on how much cash we have, but rather how we treat our money.
Think of your relationships in your life right now with your spouse, children, friends, siblings, and parents. What are the keys to successful and happy relationships? Although I’m sure we could enumerate many more, I’m asserting that there are three main keys to a positive relationship with anyone, including your money:
- Positive Attention
Respect. If you don’t respect your husband or wife, it’s going to be nearly impossible to have a good marriage. Disrespect breeds a toxic environment in your home. Your spouse feels devalued and will likely distance himself or herself from you. Do you respect your money? If you don’t, it will always flee from you! How can you tell if you’re disrespecting your money? Here are some signs:
- If you have cash in your wallet, it is disorganized and wadded up.
- You have loose change accumulating in random parts of your house and car and you rarely, if ever, take it to the bank to cash it in.
- You have torn and crumpled receipts all over the place.
- Your bills are disorganized.
- Your wallet is threadbare and falling apart.
How do you begin respecting your money? Ensure your cash is neatly folded in your wallet. When you make a purchase, take the extra few seconds to smooth out your bills and put them back where they belong. Have a designated spot for spare change, preferably in a nice container or piggy bank, and cash it in at the bank regularly. I have a coin purse in my car, which I empty when it starts to get full and a small green piggy bank at home that says “vacation” on the side. Keep both your receipts and bills organized and in a designated spot in your home. I know it seems strange that your money wants to be respected, but it does and it responds positively when you do.
Honesty. It’s impossible to have a great marriage when you’re lying to your spouse. When you’re not honest about your money, you’re lying to yourself, which is a dangerous thing. We tell ourselves lies about our money all the time.
- “If I made as much money as my brother, I’d have it made.”
- “I’ll start saving for retirement when I get my next raise.”
- “We NEED a new car because this old one is getting close to 100,000 miles.”
- “I’ll never be able to afford a vacation.”
Here’s the truth: every day we are choosing, consciously or unconsciously, how to use our money. Statements like the ones above make us temporarily feel better because we’re putting the blame on someone else. We’re kicking the proverbial can down the road. We need to be honest with ourselves. No one else can change our relationship with money for the better except for us.
Positive Attention. You can’t have a great relationship with your wife if you ignore her and never spend any time with her. This is a no-brainer when it comes to personal relationships. We know if you want a great relationship with someone, you have to spend time with them and give them positive attention. The same is true when it comes to your money. Here are some signs you are neglecting your money.
- You frequently pay bills late.
- You’ve had multiple overdraft fees within the last six months.
- You don’t know how much money is in your various checking, savings, and investment accounts.
- You are perpetually surprised when quarterly or annual bills come around, such as insurance, homeowner’s association dues, or car tags.
- Your credit score isn’t good and you have multiple blemishes on your credit report.
I was certainly guilty of neglecting to give my money positive attention before I hit financial rock bottom. I wanted to stick my head in the sand because I didn’t want to know how bad things were. Guess what? They were bad! And they didn’t start to improve until I started spending some concentrated time weekly and monthly with my money. How much positive attention do you give your personal finances on a weekly and monthly basis?
Every week, I take 15 to 30 minutes to balance my three checking accounts (personal checking, bill pay account, and my business account). Once a month, I take some extra time to lay out our budget and briefly discuss anything out of the ordinary with my husband. Once or twice a year, we meet with our financial advisor to discuss our investments. We also have annual conversations with our insurance broker and our tax advisor. A relatively small amount of quality time spent on your personal finances pays big dividends. I promise you, if you ignore your money and don’t give it any positive attention, it will always flee from you.
Commit to respecting your money and being honest with yourself about your finances. Invest some positive attention into your financial future. Money wants to be managed properly, and once you start doing it, it will grow seemingly like magic. Money problems are rarely about how much you have; rather the problem is your relationship with money.
The following was an excerpt from Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart From Hijacking Your Wallet by Christine Luken. Available for sale at Amazon.com on March 21, 2017.