You have big dreams, you know things need to change, but you just can’t seem to get out of the money rut you’re stuck in. You’re not sure what you’re doing wrong or how to fix it. Well you should know, your current financial position is the result of your “money relationship”. The deeply entrenched feelings you have towards money, probably subconsciously, are driving those money habits you can’t seem to quit.
Let’s take debt, for example. It’s easy to provide a simple formula for getting out of debt: Make more money + spend less = pay off debt and prevent new debt. But it’s much more complicated than that, unfortunately. Your money relationship – your emotions surrounding your money patterns – is what lead you to debt to begin with, and will lead you right back again.
But this is not a doomsday message, rather this is encouraging news. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and understanding WHY. The second step is re-forming your money emotions and habits to reflect your new perspective and goals.
You have the power to change your money beliefs and alter your money patterns into a new, healthy money relationship, one that steers you towards wealth. Learn how to change your money relationship.
First: Analyze — What is your money relationship, and why?
Your own money relationship began as a child, as you learned money values from your parents. Think about how your parents behaved with their own money, and the behaviour you may have inherited from them. Below are some examples of money behaviours of parents that may have affected your money relationship:
- Always trying to “keep up with the Joneses”, using money to compete socially with consumerism
- Never splurging, never giving in to covet, always saying they don’t have enough money to afford things
- Worrying, stressing and arguing over money
- Embarrassed of having money, not wanting to flaunt or other people to think they are rich
You may have adopted your parents money behaviours without realizing it, or you may have disliked their behaviour and now act in the opposite manner. Maybe you learned to spend money without a pause because your parents did, or maybe a childhood of feeling deprived has spurred you to always treat yourself. Ask yourself these questions to analyse your childhood money lessons:
- What were your parent’s actions regarding money?
- Were there any traumatic incidents surrounding money?
- How much did you know about your family’s finances?
- What messages were you taught about money?
- Did you receive an allowance, were you required to do chores for it?
- Did you have a savings account and taught to save your money?
- When did you start to pay for your own things?
- Did you have a job as a teen? What happened to the money earned?
- When was the first time you acquired debt? How did it make you feel?
- Did money influence your choice of school and/or career?
- Did religion influence your perspective on money?
How has your childhood affected your own money relationship? Do you equate money and spending with love? Do you believe that wealth accumulation is for rich snobs, and you need to be down-to-earth with your finances?
All of this experience created the money relationship you have today, whether you are a borrower, a lender, a saver, or a spender, and if you are rich or poor. In what aspect is your money relationship unhealthy, and how can it be improved?
Now: Change your Money Relationship
Many people who manage to get themselves out of debt, find themselves back in debt again. And many people who win the lottery eventually end up in the same financial situation as before winning. Why? Because although their finances changed, their money relationship did not, their attitudes and beliefs remained as before and took their finances back to the way they were before.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
Now that you recognize your negative money beliefs, the first step is to change your thinking. Repeatedly and consciously thinking differently will soon change your beliefs too. Repetition is how you will retrain your brain and gain the new skill you desire: knowing your worth, valuing money, etc. Examples of repetitive thoughts:
- I deserve to be well paid
- I give and receive money easily
- I value the money I earned and the time I spent earning it
As you retrain your brain with repetition, visualize your ideal outcome. Think about what you want your money relationship to look like, and what you want your financial situation to be.
Try to feel the way it will make you feel. How will you feel when you have no debt? When you have more than enough money? When you don’t have to worry about money, and enjoy managing it? Be positive, and imagine that you already have what you desire.
- I am finally out of debt
- Every day I am becoming more financially secure
- I have a well paying job that I deserve and enjoy
By visualizing and feeling positive emotions around your new beliefs, you are linking good feelings to the new beliefs.
Another effective method to try, is visualizing the negative feelings around your old money beliefs. How does it make you feel to be in debt, to not have the money to buy things for yourself and your loved ones?
The power of your thoughts will integrate your goals into your brain, and you will act in ways that help you achieve the goal without thinking. You will have a new belief system.
Now that you have defined your new money relationship, create a plan to make it a reality. Create a very specific goal with a deadline, decide what you will be willing to give to achieve the goal, and outline specific steps to take towards achieving the goal.
Summarize your plan into a short statement and read it to yourself twice a day. Begin with an easier goal to gain confidence in this process. Once you have achieved the goal (or change what goal you want) start over with a new one.
It takes effort and time, but by analyzing your money relationship and consciously creating a better one you will be well on your way to achieving your financial dreams.