In 2003, I had a plan to buy a house before I turned 30. My household income was about 130k, which was quite a lot back then. I confidently submitted my loan application to the bank and it was rejected. I was in complete shock! I didn't understand how they could reject all that money. After a sit down with a first time home buyer's financial counselor, I learned that my relationship with money was terrible. Between having high credit card balances, little savings and late payment history, I was a risk. My money mindset was "buy now, pay later" and "I'll have more money on Friday." The loan rejection was the exact revelation I needed to create a plan and improve my relationship with money.
I spent the next year paying down debt and saving every week. Six days before I turned 30, I closed on my first house...
Everyone has a relationship with money, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. Similar to your relationship with food, exercise, or other habits in your life, your relationship with money can be anywhere on the scale between good, needs improvement, and unhealthy.
What is a relationship with money? It's a combination of your mindset about money and wealth, the actions you take, your morals surrounding the concept of money, and any other patterns of thought about finances. It is really important to understand what your current relationship with money is before you can start building a better one.
Signs of Having an Unhealthy Relationship With Money
Not sure if you need to improve your relationship with money? There are quite a few signs of having an unhealthy relationship with money or making money that you might not be completely aware of.
Some common signs include:
Constantly obsessing over money and financial status
Looking down on people who either have a lot of money or very little of it
Connecting a certain amount of money with happiness
Neglecting personal relationships or sacrificing personal values for the sake of making more money
Feeling as if your money controls you
Overspending or having impulsive buying habits
Reflect on Where Your Money Mindset Comes From
To gain a better understanding of your money mindset, it is important to reflect on the various factors that have shaped your beliefs and attitudes towards money. Firstly, society plays a significant role in shaping our money mindset by setting certain standards and expectations. From an early age, we are bombarded with messages about wealth and success, which can influence our perceptions of what it means to be financially secure.
Additionally, family dynamics greatly impact our relationship with money. Growing up in a household where financial discussions are taboo or witnessing constant arguments over money can lead to different money mindsets. Our parents' beliefs and behaviors surrounding money often become ingrained within us, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Furthermore, the introduction of social media has magnified the influence on our money mindset. Scrolling through our feeds exposes us to reels of luxurious lifestyles and extravagant purchases, leading to comparisons and feelings of inadequacy if we don't measure up. It is crucial to recognize that these images may not always depict reality and can distort our perception of what financial success truly means.
To expand upon self-reflection, take some time to delve deeper into your upbringing. Write down the lessons you were taught regarding money from your parents or relatives. Were they frugal or quick spenders? Did they prioritize saving for the future or living for the present? Recognizing these influences allows you to question whether they align with your current goals and values.
Moreover, consider moments in your life when you felt stressed or anxious about finances. Understanding how these situations affected your thoughts and emotions can help unveil any limiting beliefs you may have developed along the way. Identifying these negative thought patterns empowers you to challenge them and shift towards a more positive money mindset.
Lastly, evaluate your current sources of information about finances. Are the sources informative? Is the content balanced or is it just get rich quick fluff? Surrounding yourself with educational resources that promote financial literacy can aid in cultivating a healthier money mindset.
Be Open to Changes In Your Financial Situation
If you want to improve your relationship with money, you need to be open to doing so. Some changes will probably have to take place, whether it's with your budget, how you view money, saving vs investing, and many other changes. If you are not open to doing things differently, nothing will ever change.
Improving your relationship with money is different for everyone, for you, it might mean sticking to a tighter budget, not lending money that you can't spare or saving for financial goals. It may mean a career change, going back to school, or finding a second stream of income.
Write down what would make your financially content, be specific, don't just write "a lot of money when I retire" or "traveling". How or where do you want to live after retirement? Where do you want to travel or how often? Knowing what you want to do later, will help improve your relationship with money now.
Set Small, Achievable Money Goals
A good way to improve your relationship with money is by setting small, achievable money goals. These are goals that won’t take too much time or effort but can start increasing your confidence in making and saving money.
What you need to see is that you have control over your own finances, from making money to how you spend or save it. If you can create a few goals and figure out a way to achieve them, you will start to really see how much control you have over your financial situation.
Improve Your Relationship with Money, with These Journal Prompts
The last recommendation I have is to start writing in your journal about your money mindset. In addition to writing down what it is and where you think it comes from, there are some writing prompts that can help you get started on shifting your mindset and improving your relationship with money.
Here are some to start with:
What do you spend your money on the most?
What are your current money habits and how do they align with your financial goals?
How would more money in your life improve your situation?
What are your beliefs about people with money?
Do you think it is hard to earn money?
How about saving your money?
Explore the concept of abundance and gratitude in relation to money – what are you grateful for financially and how can you cultivate a mindset of abundance?
How to Improve Your Relationship With Money-Conclusion
In conclusion, improving our relationship with money is an essential step toward financial well-being. By understanding our beliefs and attitudes toward money, we can begin to make positive changes in our financial habits and decision-making processes. It is important to set clear goals, create a budget, and track our expenses to gain control over our finances. Additionally, cultivating a mindset of gratitude and contentment can help us avoid the trap of constantly chasing after more money. Remember, improving your relationship with money takes time and effort, don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help from a professional. I can tell you from experience, the rewards are well worth it. Start implementing these strategies today and watch as your financial situation improves and your peace of mind grows.