What Does Money Mean To You?
Coming to the realization of what money means to you will free you to achieve your financial goals in a way that works for you.
I believe that everyone has an inherent relationship with money, a way that you relate to money as you move about the world. Sometimes participants in my classes will lament that their relationship with money is “wrong” or “bad” but I contend that this is not a thing. Through a combination of internal attributes and external life experiences (in other words, nature AND nurture) there is a unique way that you relate to money. You are what you are, and with self-knowledge and a few practical tips you can begin to transform your financial life.
So what does money mean to you?
Money means security
You may acknowledge that having money means security. You are motivated by your bank balances and like to watch your savings grow over time, maybe even logging into your accounts daily to monitor your progress. You hate to make large purchases and may experience a panicky feeling if see your bank balance suddenly plummet.
While you might experience the thrill of success as you watching your savings grow, the challenge for security-minded folks is enjoying the present day. Give yourself a “fun” category in your monthly budget (in an amount this is comfortable to you, of course!) as well as adding other “fun” goals like attending a high-price concert or taking a week-long trip to your long-range financial plan. This way you can have the best of both worlds, security and fun!
Money means enjoyment
If this money personality fits you, you relate to the idea that money’s purpose is to make your life easier and more enjoyable. Having money makes you feel powerful and in control, and if you have worked hard to earn it then why not spend it? You can always make more money tomorrow.
If you relate to this sentiment keep yourself in check by automating your saving and investing for long-term financial goals. Your “live in the moment” relationship with money can be fun for you and those around you, has it a tendency of depleting your bank account and may eventually force you to acquire high-cost debt or delay long-term financial goals like buying a home.
Money means stress
If you identify with this, you do not like to spend your time thinking about money and therefore avoid it. You get by with the bare minimum “mental accounting” to know the approximate cost of a tank of gas or a cart of groceries and you avoid doing a deeper dive into your finances. Maybe this is because you fear finding bad news and believe that you do not have the skills to fix any problem that you uncover. But avoiding money can lead to late payments that cost you in fines and interest.
If you are an avoider you need to take baby steps into the financial waters, no diving into the deep end for you! Try simple acts like opening your bills as soon as you receive them and putting them in the same folder, and tracking your spending with basic tools like a notebook or a calendar.
Money means “the root of all evil”
If you relate to this phrase you may have had life experiences that taught you that money is bad, and that people who amass large fortunes most likely did something unethical to achieve that goal. You may have internalized this feeling and therefore try not to have a relationship with money at all. If you are on the receiving end of a large sum of money (maybe through a gift or a tax refund) you let it seep out of your hands as soon as possible.
If you identify with this feeling try to think about the big picture goals of your life that affect those around you – do you want to own a space that your family can call home? Do you want to avoid being a financial burden on your adult children when you are old? Creating financial goals beyond yourself that relate to your family or community and then automating your finances can help keep you on track.
Did you relate with one of the four money meanings? More than one? You might discover that you have more than one relationship with money and that’s okay. Accept your relationship with money (and for transparency’s sake, mine is "money means security"), apply the tips and begin to enjoy a more peaceful relationship with money.