You and Your Relationship with Money
A Match Made in Heaven?
By Maria Nemeth,Ph.D.
What if you were in a relationship with someone on whom you depended for safety and security, but who caused you a lot of worry? Someone who came and went unpredictably. Someone you couldn’t live with, but couldn’t live without? How long would you want to stay in that relationship without having a clear, direct talk about the ground rules? Would you continue to put up with all that uncertainty, or would you want to resolve things so that you no longer got upset and anxious?
Like it or not, you have a relationship with money. It’s an intimate liaison that bears witness to hopes and dreams, insecurities and disappointments. We each have a unique bond with it, based on our past experiences. We bring these experiences with us whenever we deal with any aspect of our finances or money management.
A new year is always a good time to assess where we are with relationships. Where have we been conscious, loving, and nurturing? Where have we been unconscious, impulsive, inconsiderate or self-absorbed? Where is there incomplete business that needs to be cleared up in order for us to experience more ease and empowerment with that friend or loved one? Have we missed any signals that all is not well?
What if you used these same questions to assess how you are doing with money? Powerful relationships are based on clarity, integrity, trust and the desire to be present. What if you dedicated yourself to demonstrating those qualities in your relationship with money?
Alice is a woman I’d been coaching to develop goals that had real meaning and resonance for her. Her primary reason for not achieving goals was that she didn’t have enough money. Rather than approaching this as a financial problem, we started looking at her situation as a relationship issue. When she “woke up” to how she was misusing money, everything started to turn around.
Alice: “I finally saw that I was treating money carelessly. At the same time, I’d wake up at night in a panic that I wouldn’t have it around much longer. Considering it from the viewpoint of a relationship put things into perspective for me. For example, I looked at where I had been frivolous and disrespectful with money. I tracked every penny I spent for thirty days, just to see where I was using money consciously or unconsciously. I saw that I was spending $7 a day on cappuccino and croissants before I went to work — and that $7 a day times 220 work days was more than $1500 in after-tax income! “I’d been moaning about not having enough money to go on a vacation, and hadn’t taken a trip in five years. I thought money had been deserting me, but I was wrong. I’d been deserting money. I’d been eating away my vacations at $7 a pop. Well, I decided to buy treats on Mondays and Thursdays only, and put the other $7 a day into a vacation savings account. It’s one year later now, and I’m on my way to Club Med for my first vacation in six years. Me and money? We’re very happy together now.”
Alice is only one example of how people have turned around their relationship with money. The first step is to look at where you’ve not been awake to the possibility of having a vibrant, alive, and even fun relationship with this powerful form of energy. You are asleep when you have unfinished business with money — large or small things that we know you should do, but that you haven’t yet completed.
Try these quick tips to getting your relationship with money back on track:
Give your money the respect it’s due by knowing how much of it you have. Balance your checkbook!
Look at where you have neglected money. Even if you feel anxious about doing this, remember that when you wake up and clear away unworkable money situations, you are much happier with your money. So…look at your credit card balances and see if it’s time to put those cards away and give your money the rest it deserves.
Find a good financial planner who, like a good relationship counselor, helps you look at how you want to experience money and then supports you in clearing away any blocks to having the relationship with it that you truly want.
Look at a goal that you want money to help you attain. This will be something that you and your money can do together. For example, do you have a dream of buying your own home? Taking voice or scuba lessons? Going on a writer’s retreat? Hiking the Sierras? We often become unconscious about money when we’re not using it for something that has real meaning for us.
Finally, become grateful about money. Gratitude is a potent antidote to fear. Keep track of three things about money for which you’re grateful each day, and write them in a notebook that you keep by your bed. List these three “gratitudes” for thirty nights. Then go back and read what you wrote. What are you discovering about the possibilities for a powerful partnership between you and money?
You were meant to have what you want in life with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. Money is meant to support you on this journey. It’s not something that is here to bring you grief or fear. It’s here to be your friend. Are you up to having a powerful relationship with money? If you start with these suggestions, you’ll be well on your way.
Maria Nemeth, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and coach with more than twenty-eight years of experience, a former clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, and a former columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal. Her popular Sounds True six-tape series, “The Energy of Money,” and her “Mastering Life’s Energies” seminars have helped thousands of people to create ongoing affluence and financial ease. She lives in Sacramento, California. See www.marianemeth.com
Return to the May/June Index page