Most of us experience a financial challenge at some point in our lives. It may be in the form of crushing debt, inadequate income or a fear of losing hard-earned savings. Money is an integral part of our lives, and our relationship to it can be quite complex. Whatever issues you may be facing, you can likely overcome or at least lessen financial difficulties by changing the way you think about and experience money.
Having a good relationship with money can be referred to as “financial wellness.” This means that you appreciate what money has and can bring into your life, and that you approach financial decisions using principles that align with your values and goals. It also includes the ability to make financial choices with confidence that you will make the right decision, or at least that you will be able to cope with whatever may happen. And financial wellness means you can still be at peace with your current financial situation even as you take action make changes for the better.
To understand your relationship with money, you may want to determine what influences affect it. One way you can do this is by writing down some of your ‘money behaviours’. These may include things like spending impulsively, giving too much (or not enough) to others, or procrastinating on activities like account reviews or asking for a raise. Ask yourself what emotions are driving you when you behave this way and how you feel afterwards.
The next step is thoughtfully exploring a different way to be in relationship with money. Clearly imagine a new set of behaviours and make a list of all the ways it would impact your life. Then ask yourself what stops you from making changes. Be honest with yourself.
Identify one or two small changes that you can make to begin practicing a new behaviour. For example, don’t promise yourself (again) that you will track all your expenses, decide to track a few items that you think might really be offside or that are easy to control. And find a way to make it fun – whether it means doing it with a friend or putting on your favourite music while you work. There are numerous (free!) articles on how to develop new habits and money practices. Try googling Dr. Martha Beck, Suze Orman or Dr. Jeremy Dean for more ideas on making healthy changes.
And remember, the keys to enjoying money are to appreciate it, regardless of how much or how little you have, and to be persistent about developing behaviours that will help you reach your goals.