Most people don’t have a great relationship with money, which is unfortunate.
Money is a tool and you can use it to empower yourself and live the life you truly want.
But instead, most people let their money control them – for example, letting their lack of money stop them from achieving their dreams.
Thinking that you’re broke and staying in that mentality is an unhealthy way to think about money, and there are many other ways to have a sour relationship with your finances.
We’ve all been there, though. It doesn’t make you a bad person or bad with your finances. You just have to work toward having a healthier relationship with your money.
To help, here are three instances we’ve had bad relationships with our money, and how we’ve overcome it.
If you need more guidance on this topic, we had a chance to discuss it much more in-depth on our podcast with financial therapist, Kiné Corder.
1. Having a Scarcity Mentality Toward Money
I grew up watching my parents constantly stress about not having enough money. They were in credit card debt and could barely spare a penny to save. Whenever an emergency hit, it hit hard, because they would have to resort to using credit, and thus the cycle began again.
I knew I didn’t want to live like that, so as soon as I got my first part-time job, I started saving. And saving. And never stopped.
There was nothing more satisfying than seeing my bank account balance grow, because the more distance I put between being broke, the better.
Unfortunately, this led to me hoarding all of my money. I was so concerned with my savings balance that I convinced myself I couldn’t afford “fun” things or wants, and when it came to needs (like food), I would only buy what was on sale.
While saving and shopping sales aren’t inherently bad, the mentality I had developed toward my money was. I had a total scarcity mindset – I thought that I needed to keep saving, or else, I could run out of money, just as my parents did.
The fear I had was irrational considering I’ve never been in credit card debt, and I’m fairly frugal by nature (another result of my upbringing). So while I seemed to be making financial progress on the outside, on the inside, I had a horrible relationship with my money.
To overcome this, I started spending on my values. I didn’t frame purchases around the context of being needs or wants; instead, I focused on whether the purchases I made were related to my values. Would they bring me happiness? Would they create memories? Were they practical?
I also stopped budgeting.
This still takes a lot of discipline, so I don’t recommend it for everyone, but it helped me begin to focus on the bigger picture instead of getting lost in the woods that is comprised of numbers. I no longer feel guilty about making purchases and enjoying my money!
2. Overcoming Emotional Shopping
I’ve talked before about how I’ve struggled with emotional shopping in the past. I’ve tried many different things over the past 3 years to overcome this shopping habit by taking time to truly understand why I have the urge to splurge, so to speak.
Although I think I’ll always have at least a little bit of trouble with emotional shopping and overspending my budget, I have come a long way through self-reflection.
I know I’m a natural spender, not a natural saver, so allowing myself to shop within set limits is the best way I’ve found to feed my shopping monster without harming my finances.
Sure, I still go overboard sometimes, but now I know how to recover if and when it happens. I also don’t go overboard to the extremes that I used to because my financial goals and budget are always in the back of my mind when I’m shopping.
3. Thinking Money Will Solve All Your Problems
Sorry to break it to you, but if you think having more money will solve all your problems, you’re wrong. Sure, having more money can make you feel better and solve some issues you might have, but it won’t make you truly happy long-term.
Plus, money can’t always buy everything like love, kindness, compassion, good health and so on.
Once you solve one of your problems with money, another one will pop up. This is what I realized after I started earning more money. I felt great at first, but then that feeling subsided and I starting wanting more.
Then it became a vicious cycle. There are statistics that say money can improve your happiness up to a certain point. Once you earn a certain amount of money, it will no longer affect you and I feel that’s so true.
It’s important to view money as a tool to live your best life which shouldn’t always include buying more stuff. Use money to create memorable experiences and don’t get upset when you don’t have the money to meet a want or make an impulse purchase.
Stop viewing money as a requirement in order to have fun or feel loved. Those feelings are absolutely free and will always be free. Most important, don’t let money define you by basing your long-term happiness on how much you earn or what you have in your bank account.
Focus on meeting your basic needs, and realize that money comes and goes. Don’t allow it to control your life and your happiness. It doesn’t deserve that much credit.
Have you ever thought about money in any of these ways?