How do you feel about money? Are you happy to look at your bank balance, or do you avoid it as much as you can?
Everyone has their own relationship with money. Some embrace, enjoy and are grateful for whatever money they have, some are entirely consumed by needing more and more, some completely ignore it, others view it with guilt, fear or frustration.
How we feel about money directly affects how we manage and deal with it. It is one of the most important relationships in our life because it plays a critical role in not just our financial wellbeing, but also our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Even in these share all days, money is a subject that we find difficult to discuss openly with others. We'll talk to friends about problems in love, work, the latest diet we are trying, and even intimate details of our sex lives, but few of us are comfortable discussing how much money we have, or haven't got, and how that makes us feel. We have been conditioned from a young age not to talk about money, so whatever our situation, it is something that we have to deal with ourselves.
As I work with more and more women in my coaching business, I am finding that many suffer from unhealthy relationships with money and the stress and anxiety that comes with that. I hear a lot of comments like "I'm just no good with money", "I'll never be able to afford...", or find piles and piles of financial paperwork that they just can't bring themselves to look at, or even open.
For all the work we do on other areas of our lives and wellbeing, money is a crucial life area that seems to get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. It is one of the biggest causes of anxiety and stress in many lives, but it doesn't have to be that way.
SIGNS YOU MIGHT HAVE AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY
☐ You keep ending up in the same financial situation
☐ You view money as an obstacle
☐ You have no consistent money strategies, plan or budget
☐ You feel overwhelmed or powerless when it comes to money
☐ You spend more than you earn or live a lifestyle that you can't afford
☐ You hoard and don't use the money you have to enjoy your life.
☐ No balance between saving and spending.
☐ Procrastination around money-related life admin, such as paying your bills or setting up savings.
☐ You have a very one-sided love/hate view of money.
☐ You avoid bank statements and financial paperwork
☐ You blame money for all your problems
Having a good relationship with money isn't all about having a good head for figures, or how much we have in the bank. It's also about understanding our emotional reactions to money. Your relationship with money provides the foundation of your money habits - how you earn, spend, save, share and borrow. Your money habits determine your financial circumstances.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MONEY STORY
Without knowing, we can sometimes attach to money stories and beliefs that are not our own. Most of our fundamental beliefs about money will often be strongly influenced by parents, family, significant others and our environment growing up. Society, culture and social circles can also have an affect on how you perceive money.
Your beliefs about yourself and the way the world works are stored in an instant access account somewhere outside of your usual awareness. Most of the time, you are not aware of the impact, power and influence of your beliefs. Usually the specific details of how each item came to be included in your mental account are unclear. This all adds up to a position where some analysis maybe needed to clear the mental clutter before positive change can happen and your personal account can be upgraded.
It is fascinating to consciously tap into your 'account' and pull up some thoughts about money, so you can think about where it may have come from, and whether each really has a current value in your life. You might well discover that some things are out of date, or interupting or interfering with your life or cash flow, or overdue for a change. You might even discover that you are running someone else's account rather than your own.
For example, if you grew up in a home where money was not a positive thing - there wasn't enough of it, or your parents had negative views on people with lots of money, then those views can affect you later in life.
As a child, you might have saved money for something special, only to find that all that was left when you went to empty your piggy bank was an IOU from your parents - imprinting the message that there's no point in saving because it will only be taken away from you. Or, when you were a child you wanted all of the expensive toys that your friends had but couldn't afford them, you decided that when you grew up, you would buy whatever you liked regardless of whether you could afford it or not, then that's going to get you into a destructive relationship cycle.
For others, the fear of repeating their parent's mistakes drives them to become money hoarders or control freaks, scared to spend anything. All sorts of these kinds of thoughts subconsciously run through our minds that we are not even aware of, it's only later that they manifest as behaviours or habits.
The other issue that often comes up is that we are rarely taught money or life admin skills growing up. Even now, it's not something that is covered in the school curriculum. Kids don't discuss money, so subsequently, all that they learn is from their family and their environment. These experiences may not have been positive, which is going to feed into their money mindset.
You've then added to that mix with your own experiences and fears as you've grown up. Most of us have had to deal with difficult experiences around money at some point in our lives. Credit card debt, redundancy or even relationships were money was an issue. Those adverse experiences can stay with us our whole lives and make us even more anxious about money.
MONEY AND OUR EMOTIONS
Our emotional connections to money are varied and complex. Money can evoke so many strong emotions - especially in women. Your financial life is subconsciously tangled up in everything else that is important to you - your dreams and goals, your self-worth, your health and wellbeing, your relationships and your security and freedom.
Society can also brainwash us into fear and scarcity by continuously telling us that we need 'things' to be happy. Emotional truth means knowing exactly how much is enough and being able to distinguish between what we need and what we desire. There will always be bigger houses and more expensive cars, but if we get caught up in a cycle of always wanting more, we'll never be satisfied. And while we all enjoy a bit of retail therapy, constant bingeing can be an indication of lack of self-worth or confidence and a sign that we are trying to fill emotional needs with money. This is why many people with high incomes have serious financial worries, and why, within five years, 50% of lottery winners are back where they started or broke.
Issues around your self-worth can affect your relationship with money, but problems with money can also affect your self-worth. If you are struggling financially, it can make you feel completely hopeless.
Money can also be immersed in shame and guilt, as we can view money as a direct measure of success, or lack of it. We don't want others to judge us based on our financial situation.
Fear is one of the most common emotions relating to money. Fear that there will never be enough. Fears like our financial situation becoming so dire that we end up losing everything and living on the streets, may not be logical or rational, and according to surveys, even affects women earning over £150k a year. It seems that imagining the worst holds a deep place in the female psyche. Many women with children also feel under a lot of pressure and struggle with anxieties about how to earn money and look after their family - either now or in the future.
When operating from a place of fear with your finances, you avoid stepping into your power and taking control of your money situation. As with any kind of anxiety, you are unable to enjoy the life that might be right in front of you, because you are focused on the fear of what might be instead of the real and present moment in front of you.
When you fear money, you let it control you. Feeling powerless can show up in patterns of avoidance - sticking your head in the sand with no desire to face your money situation. When someone feels powerless, they are usually operating from the 'victim' or the 'innocent' archetype. Believing that there's nothing that they can do to change their lives until something changes for them - they get that new job or lottery win.
If you feel powerless when it comes to money, note that it is just your perception and not your reality. You can start to make small changes and create a plan to improve your finances moving forward. Once you realise that change is within your power, you'll be able to move forward and build a more positive relationship with money.
CHANGE YOUR relationship with money
DECLUTTER YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS
Developing a healthy relationship with money is crucial if you want to attract more of it into your life. To change your financial world, you have to change your money mindset. Conquering any limiting beliefs isn't quick or easy, it requires commitment, but once you are open to bringing awareness to the different ways in which you view, handle and feel about money, your own story and habits - shifts will begin to happen.
Let go of self-defeating messages that mess up your money mindset. Things like "I'm no good with money", "I'll never get out of debt", "Money stresses me out too much", or "If I could just earn more money or get that promotion, then everything will sort itself out". I hear this all the time, and it's such a limiting belief because it blinds people to what's really going on in their money world and their habits and behaviours. All the fixation goes on the income.
Whether you believe that money is the answer to all of your problems or the root of all evil, making judgements about money is also a sign that you might need to repair your love/hate relationship. Some people can feel conflicted about money, either on the giving end or the receiving end, causing them to repel the very thing that they are trying to attract. It's hard to attract more money when deep down you view it as an obstacle. Instead of seeing money as good or bad - see it for what it is - it's just energy. Allow it to flow. Work with it rather than against it.
Let go of any financial mistakes or bad decisions from the past. If we don't forgive ourselves, we create a block that holds us in the past. Don't forget these experiences, but learn from them and move on.
You deserve to have money. Wanting money is OK! Don't feel guilty. Even if you provide a service that helps other people. This is one example that myself, and many of my self-employed clients, struggle with guilt around and it comes back round to self-worth. If you give the best service that you possibly can, you deserve to make as much money as you can. You are just as deserving as financial reward as anyone else. Value yourself!
Observe (and better still - write down) your thoughts and then change the way that you talk to yourself. It might sound silly, but saying positive affirmations about money our loud really helps! Sometimes just thinking about how we feel about money is the first step to change.
BECOME THE MASTER OF THE MONEY THAT YOU HAVE
What are the facts about your current situation? Do you have ready access to information about your income and expenditure, your assets and your debts? You may know how much you earn, but do you know where it all goes? If you want your money situation to change, you must pay it some attention.
It takes a little bit of hard work, not just sitting down and reviewing your bank statements, actually reviewing all of your figures and where you spend your money each month. It can feel frightening and overwhelming to begin with if this isn't something that you are not used to doing. Having the confidence to actually sit down and work it all out for the first time can be challenging, but staying on top of your finances, having an overview and a plan, can be very liberating and make life much calmer and happier. Confronting your economic, and emotional, reality is the truth that sets you free to make any changes needed.
Create a budget and get your money organised. Make it visual and regularly schedule time to get to know your money inside out. Understand your bills, your debts (if you have them) and everywhere your money goes.
It's hard to make good money decisions when you feel scared and out of control. Putting aside a little bit of time each week and each month to take back control can make a lifetime of difference.
FOCUS ON GOALS NOT PROBLEMS
Start looking at your finances in terms of your dreams and goals. What's important to you? What would create a purposeful life for you? What financial changes do you need to make?
Say, you'd love to start your own business, in order to make the time to pursue that dream you'd have to reduce your employed work week. Start planning how you could afford to do that. Would you make cutbacks or start saving? It doesn't have to be a big fixed goal, just the kind of lifestyle that you would like to have and something that you can work towards.
With purpose, you can create a plan. Remember that money is just a form of energy, and it needs to flow, to have a purpose, so giving it one is really important. It's not just money for monies sake.
If you are really struggling on the goaLs and purpose bit, don't worry too much and let it put you off. Once you start to take control of your finances, you'll find that goals naturally begin to emerge.
It's only when we see how much more money means to us when it has a purpose, and how we can use it to plan our future - much like we do in any other life area - that things start to transform. You can begin to develop focus, discipline and behaviours based on your values, rather than short term instant gratification. These skills generate success in other areas of your life creating lifestyle choices, which can give a feeling of security and a sense of freedom.