We talk about physical and emotional health, but what about financial health? Financial health can be seen as how safe we feel about our level of money. We do not want to be stressed about money; nor do we want to be in denial of our money situation (in order not to be stressed!). In fact, physical, emotional and psychological health are directly related to financial well-being. Are you putting all aspects of your self – your well-being – first?
As we discuss this further, keep in mind … It is not how much money one has; it is how one manages money and this depends upon the relationship one has with money and with self.
Some good questions to ponder about your relationship with moneyinclude:
- From where did you learn your financial knowledge? (Remember, financial institutions are not necessarily educational ones!)
- How did your family manage money? How did you interpret this management?
- How is your management of money influenced by what you learned?
- What value does money have for you?
- What is your biggest fear around money?
- What negative messages do you have around money?
- What vision or goals do you have regarding money?
- What are your thoughts and feelings about money?
Similar to how we establish relationships with others, we learned how to relate to money (at least initially) in our formative years – from family, culture, etc. From these influences and our personal experiences, we developed values, beliefs and attitudes around money.
Three main myths or false beliefs that interfere with financial well-being are:
- There’s not enough (scarcity and ‘all or nothing’ thinking).
- The more I have the better.
- There’s nothing I can do about it (#1 – not enough).
There is also negative self-talk around money – which is mostly untrue. For example:
- ‘I don’t make enough money to concern myself with any need to manage it.’ (Everyone can save.)
- ‘I’ll never be able to save/manage my money/get out of debt!’ (Then, you won’t!)
- ‘I can’t understand the math, interest rates, how it works, etc.’ (Again, so why bother!)
- ‘It’s not my fault that I have money problems; it’s out of my control.’ (Not taking responsibility.)
Understanding our wants and needs when spending …
Needs are items and conditions required for survival. Wants are all the remaining items, experiences and conditions.
The wanting brain, like the addictive brain, often leads to impulsive actions (in this case buying) which results in acting contrary to what we really want to do (e.g., buying more of certain items, not saving, etc.) and thus, creates self-deprecating messages and may, no doubt, lead to other self-defeating acts. The wanting brain is driven by desire – the core of suffering.
There is a false belief that if we get what we want (materialistically) we will be happy. Real happiness (contentment) comes when we get to the point where we do not want anything.
Think of the last 10 items you purchased. Be specific (e.g. list specific food items vs ‘groceries’). Next, decide if each was a need or a want. Remember, it is okay to have wants. Thus, be careful not to make moral or value assumptions when deciding. On the same note, be careful not to rationalize any want as a need (this can be easy to do). Conversely, a true need is difficult to categorize as a want.
Bring awareness to your spending
Before each item goes into the shopping cart, ask … Is this a need or a want? If it is a want, ask, “Why do I want this?” Be ruthlessly honest with the reason. What are you feeling when you are holding, buying or even contemplating buying the item? Watch for messages of rationalizing (I deserve!) and minimizing (Oh, what’s another $10.) If the item is ‘on sale,’ ask, “Can I really afford (on many levels!) to save this much?”
Do you see any patterns in your spending?
In more detail, look at the past month or months of spending. Take the time with an honest glance or even better, group and add up the amount of money spent on each category of purchases. E.g., food, each utility, entertainment, meals out, children, spouse/partner, friends, pets, vacations, liquor store, dollar store, car, donations, drug store, etc.
Where and what you spend money on reflects what you value, where you are spending your time, and how you value yourself. This concept is similar to doing (‘spending’ time) what is of value (important and urgent) to you.
We want to align our spending with our values, and yet, be careful of black-and-white thinking and thus, black-and-white purchasing. For example, we may only want to eat organic or only buy certain brands. However, these rigid preferences can make it more difficult to reach our financial goals. We want to be able to discerningly choose, be flexible, and make the best choice each time.
Avoid or minimize external sources which contradict our values and goals (in all aspects of our life, including financial).
Mute or fast forward through advertisements, do not read paper flyers unless looking for specific items, catch yourself comparing and being in self-pity, set boundaries around listening to/viewing others’ spending (decrease shopping visits), and discuss finances with people (perhaps even find a financial mentor!) who share your same financial outlook.
Financial differences (because they are based upon our values) really do matter in relationships! Because …
How we value money and what our ‘bottom line is’ are equal to how we value our selves and how we maintain boundaries. Managing money, just as we manage (or not?) our house, our emotions, our nutrition and sleep, etc., directly relates to our sense of self-worth (how we value our selves) and our sense of empowerment.
To find out more and to understand your style (archetype) of managing money (and life!) read this interesting article … http://experiencelife.com/wp-
Much of the above material was adapted from the workshop, ‘Emotional & Cognitive Elements that Determine Money Management,’ by Jose Jaime Guerrero, MA, RCC.