Most people don't even realize they have a relationship with their money. It's easy to see money as something we just have to deal with. In reality, the relationship you have with your money is really like having a relationship with a person in your life. Just like any relationship, you're in it by choice. We honor our relationships through behavior and intention and it's no different when it comes to our relationship with money.
Five years ago, my relationship with money was poisonous. It was simply an obstacle that only caused me heartache and stress. Over the years, I have learned to not only honor my relationship with money but to nurture it as well.
Today, I wanted to share some things I did to improve my relationship with money. With any relationship, it takes time and work. I have found that if you honor it the same way you honor other important relationships in your life and give it the same respect, your financial life will improve as well.
KNOW YOUR MONEY ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
No relationship can survive if there is uncertainty. You have to take the time to know everything about it and understand it on the most personal level. What does this mean? If you don't know where your money is going, there is no way you can nurture it.
It's hard to tell if there is a problem in any relationship unless someone tells you. Most of the time that's your significant other, your friend or a family member. Your money can also tell you if there's a problem, you just have to look for it.
One way to get to know your money is by creating a budget. A budget not only allows you to choose where your money is going but it allows you to avoid unnecessary spending. If you have a budget, you are clear on what money is coming in, how fast it's going out, and where it is going to.
When I created my first budget, it showed me multiple problems that I was having with my money. The biggest problem I faced was unnecessary spending. I was spending money on things to make me feel good, not because it was important or helped with my financial goals. To be honest, I knew I had a problem with spending. I was in denial and was able to make excuses for my behavior until I saw the magnitude of the problem on paper.
YOU HAVE TO MAKE TIME FOR IT
If you are like me and are juggling kids and marriage, you know how important it is to set time aside for date nights. The older I get, the more valuable my time is to me. One way we prioritize the important things in our lives is by investing our time. If your money is important to you, you have to make time for it.
Creating a budget is only the first step to improving your relationship with money. You also have to set time aside to inspect it.
I spend 15 minutes every night looking at my budget and tracking my spending for the day. I also have planned financial meetings with my husband every month that allows us to talk about where we are at and what we would like to accomplish for the following month.
I am not going to lie. Getting in the habit to devote time to my money was hard at first. The one thing that helped me was realizing that if I didn't, things would go back to how they were. I had to make the conscious decision on how I spent my time.
If you want to add more value to your money and your life, you need to make the decision to make it a priority.
STOP LOOKING AT YOUR MONEY AS AN OBSTACLE
The biggest change with my relationship with money was achieved by looking at my money as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. It's easy to feel like your money is restricting you. One way we do this is by taking our money for granted.
There were so many times where I said to myself, “I wish I had enough money to do that.” I saw my money as something that was holding me back from doing the things that were important to me. Now, I say to myself, “How can I make my money work for me?”
If you have a budget in place and make time to respect and inspect it, the illusion of your money being an obstacle will slowly disappear. You have to let go of the fear and consider the possibility that you do have the resources to make your priorities a reality.
PRIORITIZE & MAKE GOALS
In order to make your relationship with money a priority, you must have something that you are working towards. Whether it's paying off debt, saving more for a family vacation, or putting money away for emergencies, you must have a plan for your money.
Having a plan is more than just an unclear thought of where you want to be. It's an action plan that allows you to take out the guess-work and gives you clear steps you need to take to be successful.
If you are married, your money goals should be decided together and should be something you talk about during your financial meetings.
Your goals should be specific and detailed. Instead of saying. “I want to save for a new car” make it even more specific by saying “I want to save $10,000 for a new car by August of next year.” This will give you the clear steps you need to take to reach that goal.
- Related: How to Create a Plan to Pay Off Debt
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward – Steve Maraboli
The one thing I learned on my financial journey is that you need to forgive yourself for past & current money mistakes. It's important to realize that you must accept the things that have already happened. You can not change your credit card debt situation, your income circumstances, or lack of savings. All you can do now is accept the decisions you made in the past and change them in the future.
Just like with any relationship, you are going to make mistakes along the way. No one is perfect. Your self-worth is not dependent on these mistakes. Take these opportunities and learn from them and then move on. You might miss a credit card payment, spend too much money at the mall, or skip your savings for the month and that's OK.
Lean on your spouse or significant other for guidance and support or find a family member or close friend that you can talk to about your relationship with money. Find ways you can shift your money mindset from negative to positive and move on.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you about your relationship with money it's this – it's never too late.
What are some ways you are improving your relationship with money?