February is often a month full of relationship talk. We talk about what a healthy relationship looks like, what a healthy self-view while you’re single looks like, and the best heart-shaped-recipes to cook on February 14th with your significant other. But I want to talk about the significant other in your life that nobody wants to talk about: money.
If you think about it, money may be the thing in your life that you’ve had the longest running relationship with. From the time you got your first piggy bank and heard your parents talking about a budget and savings, you’ve started forming strong feelings about money – for better or worse.
Now, the question needs to be asked: what feelings are you – well – feeling? And are they healthy?
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship With Money
There are many signs that you might be in a toxic relationship with money. A few key factors I tend to look at are:
- You compulsively overspend. This doesn’t mean you love to head to the mall, or scroll through your favorite online retail site. It does mean you feel the compulsive urge to spend money as soon as it hits your wallet. If every time you come into some cash it starts to burn a hole in your pocket – it may be time to reevaluate your spending motivations.
- You compulsively underspend. Being frugal is a positive thing. If you have a budget and your spending aligns with your values, you’re likely in a good place with your relationship with your money. However, if you’re regularly depriving yourself of things you need or that are within your budget, you might be penny-pinching for no reason. If you deprive yourself for too long, you’ll become resentful and be less likely to stick to a budget and grow your wealth in the long term.
- You resent money. If you resent everything about money – having it, not having it, spending it, not spending it – that’s a problem. Money is just a tool. It has no real power over you or your life. In fact, you’re the one in the driver’s seat when it comes to your relationship with money. There’s no reason to be resentful.
- You idolize money. Again, money is just a tool. It doesn’t have a magical ability to make you happy, or to solve any problems you’re facing in life. Many people have this misconception, but again: you’re the one in control. Money doesn’t have a positive or negative impact on your life, the actions you take with it do.
When You’re in an Abusive Relationship With Money
Are you in an abusive relationship with money? You may be shaking your head no, or asking yourself, “How does that even happen?” But the answer might surprise you. According to an article in Psychology Today, the author describes an abusive money relationship as being isolating, negatively impacting your self-esteem, causing fear, dominating the majority of your life, and enslaving you (both in emotionally and in the way you act or make decisions).
That description sounds much more relatable, right? Many people allow money to take an abusive role in their lives, whether they realize it or not. Luckily, in your relationship with money, you’re in full control. You can take back the reins and build a healthy relationship with your finances.
Growing a Healthy Relationship With Money
Are you ready to start fresh and build a healthy relationship with money? Depending on where you are on the money relationship spectrum, it may require some work on your part. But the results will be well worth it.
Just as in the relationships you build with the people in your life, your relationship with money is largely based on choice. You can choose to love money, and you can choose to focus on it in a positive way that opens you to the possibility of growing wealth and having a healthy relationship with finance. A few things I’d suggest are:
- Focus on your money, but don’t obsess. You wouldn’t love a new beau who stalked your every move, would you? It’s important to know what money is coming into your life as income, and what money is leaving your life as expenses. But if you worry over it every second of the day, you’re likely to suffer burn out and make unhealthy financial decisions.
- Set boundaries. This is where a budget comes in. Set spending boundaries for yourself, and respect them. Remember: you are in control of this budget. You’ve set these boundaries to maintain a healthy relationship with your money, and there’s no reason to resent them.
- Prioritize. When you prioritize your money, you begin to focus on growing wealth. You look at money in a positive light. You push to earn more and spend less. The money you choose to spend is often spent more intentionally on people, things, and hobbies that fill you up rather than cause you more stress.
Building a healthy relationship with money is within your reach. As a fee-only financial planner, I’d love to help. If you have any questions about setting a budget, or rethinking your approach to money, reach out. I’m here to help you build a relationship with your money that allows you to thrive.