The relationship we each have with money is like a lifelong arranged marriage. We didn’t ask for this particular partner but there they are and we try to make the best of it. Some days are better than others of course but we do our best to appreciate and honor their presence in our life every day. At first there can be the heated lust and can’t get enough of them feelings but as we all know in marriage that eases away with hopes there is love and healthy respect that lasts a lifetime. The partnership of money in our life represents a life spent learning and growing wiser.
I believe most of us have an unhealthy relationship with money because we have been led to believe there is never enough of it or that the bulk of it goes to the elite only. We have been led to believe we must excel, achieve, reach the top and succeed to get any chunk of what is available. Often this can sadly mean trampling on others or competing in a way that leaves us (and them) feeling bad about it. We lose ourselves and people who matter importantly to us in the pursuit of it sometimes. So much of our world is established on the flow of money and how we can get a little piece of it as it floats by.
My own relationship with money has been largely based on a scarcity mindset too. I grew up very poor and often without things like electric in the house due to unpaid bills and empty cupboards lacking food. Those experiences instilled in me the deep necessity and desire to change that story in my own life so I never lived like that as an adult or raised my children that way. I have pushed myself extensively in my work life to move up the corporate ladder for bigger salaries, change jobs and more to make sure I was secure and those conditions could not exist in my life. The truth is there is no such thing as job security and eventually you figure out to just make sure you have something else lined up so there is not a gap in the flow of money coming in when job loss occurs.
It took me a very long time to realize thinking like this wasn’t healthy. It took me even longer to figure out what to do about it. I won’t say I have mastered it yet but my relationship with money seems more natural these days. The feeling I can breathe at least a little and not constantly wonder what will happen next to threaten our family budget is more manageable. Since I’m the one who still uses a calculator, check register and Excel worksheet to keep on top of things I will say old habits die hard but what has changed more than anything is my perspective of what those numbers mean to me.
For me the number one focus was money security. If something were to go wrong such as an unexpected job loss I wanted to be able to be alright for a while. I wanted to have choices about what was next. This doesn’t mean it would not be scary if or when it happened but rather it could possibly be less so because I had a back up net to help. Getting at the very core of your of what is causing your anxiety with money is essential to figuring out what to do about it. Be absolutely honest and deeply intune with why too.
From there I worked to safeguard things in order to build that security I needed. This is where my handy multi-tool use of managing the family budget came in and assessing how we spend. It also meant working intensely to eliminate debt and being very cautious about taking on any more. That was a drastic shift for our family who was used to just buying whatever we needed or wanted. Now it was a question on if we could pay cash for it as well as what did that purchase do for our savings and debt. The answer wasn’t always yes.
Learning to ask why and say no or not right now is key. We are engrained with the must have it now responses that it has overridden our sense of what is right for us. Breaking that cycle is challenging but like most things we detox from it feels incredible afterwards. Just doing this alone removed a great deal of stress for me when it comes to feeling money secure. Retraining ourselves to consider our actual needs and not those we are told we should do is liberating! All of a sudden you see choices, options, and selections that mean something personal to you. When you buy something it is much more likely to be aligned to your tastes, preferences, need for quality and be a perfect fit. It serves your life rather than sit in a closet or on a shelf. This feeling is what I call consumerism clarity and it is awesome!
I firmly believe living more naturally healthy includes our financi