Do You Have a Healthy Relationship With Money?

Do I have a healthy relationship with money?

I found myself asking this question as I sat in the break area at work. I had just gotten off the phone with a big bank where I used to have a checking account. I had spent the previous 10 minutes upset while talking with a representative because they had charged me a $5 fee. I kept telling them I didn’t have the money. I couldn’t pay the $5. They said it would go to collections and I said “okay” and then hung up.

After establishing some distance, my actions didn’t make complete sense. No, I didn’t want to pay the $5, but I do have the money. I’m employed full time with no debt and a sizeable safety cushion of cash, but I wasn’t trying to deceive the representative on the phone. I legitimately felt like I didn’t have the money and couldn’t pay the $5. It seemed silly to react the way that I did. Getting so upset over $5 wasn’t worth the time and energy. I thought about it more and realized this wasn’t new.

I have become upset several times when confronted with small, unexpected expenses that I couldn’t control. Accordingly, it was clear that I needed to examine my relationship with money. Specifically, it was time to look at my individual interactions with money to assess whether or not they were healthy. Asking this question is an essential step in accomplishing your personal finance goals because having a healthy relationship with money will impact your success. You can’t grow your wealth if you undermine yourself unknowingly.

Examine your personal interactions with money to build a healthy relationship

Asking yourself “how do I interact with money and are these interactions contributing to a healthy relationship with money?” is not easy. To answer these questions you must objectively analyze your behavior. Start by focusing on the last time you got upset about money. Were you confronted with an unexpected bill? Did you make an impulse purchase when shopping? Once you can identify the last time you got upset about money, move on to the questions listed below.

  • Why was I upset?
  • What was my thought process in that situation?
  • Do I repeat this pattern
  • Does this signify a healthy relationship with money?

When I took a moment to ponder these questions, I realized that small, unexpected expenses caused me great stress. I found joy in sticking to my budget, but I didn’t have funds set aside for this type of situation. Further, I was repeating a thought process I learned from my mother growing up. She rarely had money for unexpected expenses so she often said “I don’t have the money, I can’t pay the $5″. The difference was that I was in a better position – I did have the money and I could pay the $5. The logical solution is to dedicate some money toward small, unexpected expenses.

Thinking about the last time I got upset about money began the process, but it was necessary to go further. As you ponder the topic in greater depth, continue by considering the last time you were happy about money. Did you comparison shop for an item you wanted to buy? Did you pay your credit card off in full at the end of the month? Once you can identify the last time you were happy about money, move on to the questions listed below.

  • What made me happy?
  • What was my thought process in that situation?
  • Do I repeat this pattern?
  • Does this signify a healthy relationship with money?

The goal isn’t to eliminate situations where money makes you upset or maximize situations where money makes you happy. The goal is to gain a better understanding of how you interact with money and if these interactions are contributing to a healthy relationship with money. This introspection cultivates a deeper awareness that makes it easier to stop undermining yourself and exploit your strengths. With time, proactively examining your relationship with money can inform your financial plans so that you can manage your money in ways that allow you to meet your goals.