Think about the relationships in your life that are truly important to you. Most likely you nurture these valued relationships and treat them with the care and attention they deserve.
Now, think about your relationship with money. And instead of thinking about this relationship as purely numbers and account balances, step back for a second and assess the state of your relationship with money as if describing a relationship with a friend.
If you had to choose one word to describe your relationship with money, what would that word be?
For those of you that have never conceived of describing your relationship with money or weren’t even aware you had a relationship with money, this exercise may at first feel odd. “How can a person have a relationship with money?” Putting on my holistic financial planning hat, I would respond to your question by suggesting; if you've had problems, hated or loved, feared, struggled with, enjoyed, cursed or worried about money, whether consciously or unconsciously, you are indeed in a relationship with money. The trick, as in all relationships, is for it to be a healthy, supportive, trusting and honest relationship.
Below are three essential tips for optimizing your relationship with money. The more you observe and are able to understand the dynamics of this complex relationship, the sooner financial freedom will become your personal reality.
1) Assumptions & Belief Systems Around Money
If you’ve read the seminal book on money, Your Money or Your Life, you know that one of the first steps towards transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence is to become conscious of all the assumptions and beliefs around money you’ve been dragging around since you were a kid.
Part of this crucial transformational work is letting go of outdated assumptions and beliefs that no longer are relevant in your world or worse, create dysfunction and chaos in your life.
- Take an inventory of all the assumptions you have regarding money, especially in these four areas: earning, saving, spending and investing.
Now, observe this list of assumptions with mindfulness and non-judgment. What patterns, if any, stand out to you? Do any of them remind you of your mother or father’s assumptions that you’ve unconsciously adopted as your own? What limiting beliefs, if any, are embedded in your assumptions?
Bring your full awareness onto the assumptions that are outdated and or hinder your personal and spiritual growth. In this garden of your mind, mindfully replace these outdated assumptions, these ‘weeds’ that have overrun your garden, and replace them with seeds of abundance. Be patient with yourself as these old beliefs and assumptions will not disappear easily.
Optimize your relationship with money by playing the observer next time you have or make a financial transaction. The more self-aware, the more you stay conscious when dealing with money, the more you recognize your patterns and demons that are never far away - the sooner you’ll feel in control of your money and your life.
2) Trust & Faith with Money
Think about a relationship you have with someone close to you that you do not trust. Think about how challenging that makes your relationship with this person. How difficult it is to let your guard down around this person and not feel suspicious of their motives.
Trust in any relationship is essential if the relationship is to grow and prosper and your relationship with money is no different. Consider the following tips which can help you gain back or strengthen the trust you need for a successful relationship with money.
- Flex your frugal muscle - Next month, promise yourself and then commit to it, that you will spend 20% less than you did the previous month. Then, take that 20% savings and apply 100% of it to your emergency cash fund.
There is no better way to strengthen or rebuild trust in your relationship with money than to make a promise to yourself and honor that promise. Think about it as making a deposit in your spiritual bank account. Nothing, and I mean nothing builds trust faster than knowing promises made around money are promises you can trust yourself to keep.
- Increase Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - The next time you feel the need or desire to make an impulse purchase - stop yourself. Become conscious of your behavior, play the observer, understand your emotional triggers (stress, sadness, exhilaration, etc.) and take control.
When your emotions dictate your financial behavior, it’s often referred to as being ‘emotionally hijacked’. Take control of your emotions around money and you’ll feel what it’s like to experience authentic power.
3) Core Values, Your Money AND Your Life
The choices you make around how you spend, earn, save, and invest your money are all essential aspects of your relationship with money.
To feel empowered around money, to feel and see abundance all around you, to know that you’re able to manifest your deepest desires and turn those dreams into reality requires your core values be in alignment with how you spend, earn, save and invest. When those choices are in alignment with your core values, your relationship with money feels effortless.
- Dig deeper and discover what’s in alignment and what’s out of alignment in your spending, earning, saving and investing habits. If the gap is wide between these and your core values, that’s ok, but know you’ve got work to do.
Take baby steps toward reaching eventual full-on alignment. Start with one aspect at a time, set monthly and quarterly goals that are doable yet push you out of your comfort zone. Monitor progress, course correct when needed, do your personal best, accept setbacks and start again.
Bottom line- Just keep moving forward, as every positive step you take will get you that much closer to your ultimate goal: an effortless relationship with money that provides all the abundance and security you need and desire and the ultimate goal: financial freedom.
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