We throw the word “money” around with very little thought.
And that could be costing you big time.
As we go into this next year, it’s more important than ever to get a real close (in fact “intimate”) relationship with your money. Not something you keep at arm’s length. But instead, something that, if you personified it, you could have sitting across the table from you, sharing a cup of tea or a cold beer. A friend, an ally, someone who has your back.
Okay, that may sound crazy. But I can’t think of another way to get you to understand that you can’t be financially free or secure if you think of money as your enemy. Or if you ignore it like that unused workout equipment that’s sitting hidden in your garage.
So I’d like you to take a little time to think through the questions I’m going to ask about different associations we all have with money. If you answer honestly, you’ll soon know where the sticking points are in how you relate to your money. And where you might want to do some work so you have a fighting chance to make 2012 a positive year rather than one where you tread water or, worse yet, fall further behind.
Security: Did your family have trouble meeting its bills and did it ever make you feel insecure about your home life? Or did you know you’d always be safe, no matter what? Can you cover all your bills comfortably today? Do you save for a rainy day? Looking way forward, how much thought have you given to how you’re going to actually pay for all the years you’ll be retired, whether by choice or forcefully? Have you done any calculations? Do you have a plan in place? Are you following that plan? Or are you ignoring the topic altogether?
Freedom: How do you define being “financially free?” What does it mean to you? Do you avoid the question because you feel trapped in the lifestyle and debt you’re carrying today? Do you have a clear vision of what “financially free” looks and feels like? Do you know what that will cost? Have you put together a plan of how you’re going to get there?
Love: What are your money expectations when you enter into (or stay in) a personal relationship? Does love conquer all in a relationship? Or does money have the power to make or break one? Are you still waiting to be rescued? Did you ever equate whether your parents spent money on you with whether or not they loved you? Did your family have a lot of money and you often wondered if your friends liked you or liked all the nice things you had?
Acceptance: Do you compare yourself with others around you and feel they judge you in any way? Do you remember ever being teased at school because of where you lived or how you dressed? Or do you worry that if you make too much money you’ll no longer by loved and liked by your family and friends? Or do you feel you need to earn a lot of money for people to think highly of you?
Control: Did either of your parents give you money or withhold things from you to get you to behave in a certain way? Have you had boyfriends or a husband who used money to control you? Have you ever hidden some spending from a partner because you were afraid of the consequences? Have you ever used money to control your children, including paying their bills in order to keep them close?
Power: Did your parents argue about money and did you feel the one who lost the argument was the weaker of the two? Do you open and review all bills and statements? Or do you relinquish your power to the fear that comes from not knowing where you stand? Do you feel driven to amass large amounts of money in order to feel powerful?
Status: Do you purchase things because of what others will think of you if you have them? Do you drive a car you can’t really afford? Do you live in a house that’s in keeping with your present income and circumstances, or does it drain a disproportionate amount of your income?
One thing you should know: there are no right or wrong answers. Any behaviors that we’re not proud of typically result from how we were raised and what we were taught…or not taught.
So just take note of where you got a little twinge of discomfort as you answered. Know that it’s a place where your relationship with money is less than direct or clear. Examine it. Question where it might have come from. Change it.
We’re all masters of our own destiny, you know.
Money has no innate power of its own. But it can either be something you have a healthy use for…or it can act as a roadblock because of the emotional energy you have imbued it with.
It’s entirely up to you.