By: Hanna Kaufman
February is often associated with love and relationships- and more than likely when we consider relationships, our mind instantly goes to the loved ones in our life. I urge you to consider a relationship that is often overlooked, your relationship with money. Whether we like it or not, money is embedded in our daily routine. Money is often categorized as an objective and technical topic, and often overlooked is the emotional aspect behind it. Your emotions around money drive your thinking and ultimately your decision-making.
Take a moment to think about you and your relationship with money:
- Does money make you feel confident or insecure?
- Are you an ultra-saver or a carefree spender?
- Do you take an excessive amount of financial risk, or do you generally play it safe?
- Are you hesitant to act on issues regarding money?
The answers to all these questions have little to do with risk and return and almost everything to do with your psychology and personal history with money. Unfortunately, the vast majority are made uneasy by these questions. If that is you, consider these tips to taking back control of your finances:
1. Identify your story
We all have a past with money. Take some time to reflect on how your experiences may have shaped your relationship with money. Think back to your childhood, did you grow up in a household with conflict around finances? Did you have parents who aggressively saved or spent? These experiences often elicit strong emotion that shape our perception around the topic of money.
2. Consider your goals
Once you have identified what is driving your emotion around finances, attempt to take a step back. Consider what is important to you and what you would like to accomplish with your finances. Whether it’s to save for a house, get your investment portfolio in order or develop a comprehensive financial plan, write these goals down.
3. Consider your fears
Consider what the worst-case scenario would look like. Is it the fear of running out of money? When faced with fear, we ignite our fight or flight response and when it comes to finances, it almost always results in flight. In the example above, if your fear is running out of money, by neglecting to take action, you are increasing the chances of making your fear become reality.
4. Adjust your mindset
Once you understand where your story with money began and the fears that may be holding you back, you can begin to combat those negative mindsets. Continuing the example above, if you grew up in a household that aggressively spent, it’s likely that you’ve either adopted that mindset and lived outside of your means or used it as a learning experience and spent less. Regardless of the scenario, evaluate your current actions and ask yourself “is this action aligned with my goals or is it harming my long-term success?”.
5. Create a plan
Create a plan that you can stick to, with acknowledgment of your personal history with money. Remember that everyone’s story looks a little different, and your plan should represent the best course of action for you. Take time to sit down and lay the groundwork for achieving your goals. How will you achieve them? This plan should be made up of small, achievable steps to achieve your overall goals. It helps to put your plan in writing and set a deadline to achieving them, these tactics help you hold yourself accountable. Remember that a well-defined financial plan will prepare you for the good and bad.
Don’t neglect your relationship with money. Just like any other relationship, it will take time and effort to foster your relationship but will be rewarding in the long-term.