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How to have a positive relationship with money

Updated on September 25, 2013

We reach for it in moments of need, asking for it to take away our aches; we use it to soothe heartbreaks or celebrate a new achievement, we throw it at problems to make it go away and then huff and puff and click our tongues in disgust when things don’t go our way. As much as this may sound like it isn’t the description of an encounter with an errant lover but the intricate and often convoluted relationship that we have with money.

Most people we meet in our lives are preoccupied with making money, retaining money, saving it or not having enough. Little do we realize but a lot of how we interact with money is shaped by our upbringing and our early interaction with it in life. We develop attitudes about money that reflect how we feel about ourselves.

Deprivation, scarcity, fear, anxiety… do any of these words ring true to you? It is not pleasant, that’s true, but the reality is that people are saying these things and experiencing these feelings about money. So how can you change the way in which you feel about money?

Let’s examine a few negative attitudes that people have about money and look at ways in which they can be changed for a healthier and more positive outlook.

You can start with some simple changes on the pieces of your mind script that you have toward money. Yes if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed it’s time to reprogram those mind tapes.

1. Saving is not deprivation

Contrary to how it may feel, saving is NOT deprivation. Yes you may feel a twinge if you have put that lounge shirt back on the shelf or having to put the overzealously grabbed platter of cheeses back in the fridge at the deli today. However in the long run after a month or two of exercising some restraint you will find that you have some breathing room financially and hey let’s face it, who doesn’t like a little rainy day money in hand.

Rewrite the script:

Rather than use up all your money in the moment for emotional buys, whims and impulses, stop to ask yourself some simple yet critical questions when facing spending decisions. They could really help you on your way to saving money.

  • Do I really need the item that I’m buying?
  • Is this satisfying a want or a need
  • Is this item valuable now, will it be valuable to me two years from now?

2. Denying that money is important

We can aspire to be all Zen and spiritual about it and say that money really doesn’t matter, rating it pretty low down on the scale when it comes to our holistic wellbeing and fulfillment. But let’s face it, money is important!

Whichever way you look at it, nobody is getting by on sunshine, air and roses, we do need a bit of currency to transact in the world that we live in. We need to eat; we need food and clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads. Seeing as those needs are not going away any time to soon, we had better wake up to the reality that we need to have money in order to live and survive.

Do the following exercise:

It is time for a reality check!

  • Take an ordinary piece of paper
  • Write down a basic list of your expenses
  • Now write down a list of your available funds
  • Do the math

Rewrite the script:

All of the things that you have been considering important over and above money and material possessions are important. No doubt about it. It is admirable that money isn’t the only thing in your frame of consciousness. However be wise to the fact that there are bills to be paid, financial commitments to be met and a real world to live in. So live it!

3. Not believing in your skills and ability to make money

It’s time to take stock of your abilities and talents. Maybe you have a knack for decorating or you know how to make some really cool decoupage art. Isn’t it about time that you took the special things that you do and found a way to turn it into a living?

If there have been a ton of ideas that you’ve had over the last while and you feel like you haven’t been able to consolidate your ideas, it is about time that you did. Sit down and make a basic business plan if you have to. Take your talents and abilities seriously and find ways to move it from your mental space into a more tangible and productive space.

Possibly the one thing standing between you and some financial gain gotten from doing something that you love is the lack of planning and the right idea.

Rewrite the script:

Get the ideas flowing: Bounce ideas around with others; get to know a bit about their perspective on what your skills and abilities are?

Examine the angle: Sometimes all you need is a little perspective from somebody with a fresh eye to tell you a bit more about your skills and abilities in order for you to see it for yourself.

Collaborate: Meet with interesting people. Share skills and information especially with those who will in some way, shape or form, be able to assist you with furthering your goals when it comes to self improvement. Avoid the naysayers and those who simply want to rain on your parade.

Stop blaming time: Yes, you may always say that there will never be enough time to do anything, given the hectic lives that we all lead today. But ask yourself, how badly do you really want to pursue your passions and interests and what sacrifices you are willing to make in the name of your goals.

4. Scared of striking a balance

Many of us fall victim to a sense of ‘all or nothing’ thinking. In other words when it comes to money we are either in feast or famine mode, with no sense of equilibrium and balance. We tend to sweep our financial matters under the carpet until we simply have to deal with them. This is a kind of mentality that has to stop. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed every time you head to the ATM or swipe a card at a store, it is time for some serious introspection.

Knowledge is power: Don’t ‘kind of guess’ at where your bank balance is sitting at or even your credit card for that matter. Know the status of your accounts at all times.

Take pride in ownership: All of our lives call for a level of juggling and balance. We will have to discover for ourselves what it is that we need as a matter of priority. Make savvy decisions, instead of having so many different accounts and amounts owing on a number of ‘possessions’ how about owning something outright for a change?

6. You've forgotten about your old age

Let’s face it we all love kicking up our heels, having fun and simply enjoying the moment. When we are younger we are invincible and nothing can stop us from doing that. Whilst that is good and we should all definitely have fun and enjoy the fruit of our labor, there comes a time when we need to be realistic and realize that there will come a day when we will not really be the ‘young and the restless’ as we used to be.

Rewrite the script:

Invest money: Look at the possibility of savings plans, think about the fact that you will age and grow old one day and need to have a little cash set aside for a rainy day, or at very least for the days that your bones get old and creaky.

Consider health and life insurance: When the chips are down, knowing that you had some foresight to plan for a rainy day will really help. The time to begin saving for your old age, is when you are younger and have the earning power and potential. Do the research, speak to the necessary consultants, do as much reading as you can in order to prepare for this inevitability.

Have a good credit history: To a great extent credit card debt is unavoidable in the times that we live in. Whatever your reasons may be for having credit card debt, the important thing is that you make credit card payments on time and maintain as good a credit rating as possible. Ideally, when you reach your old age you want to be as debt free as possible, so starting early on in life, you want to make as many payments as possible, curb excess spending and get to your old age with peace of mind.

Before you do anything in your life financially, you have to introspect and ask yourself the right questions. Have a look at this amazing and thought provoking video by financial guru, Suze Orman.

Can you afford your life?

At the end of the day, our attitudes towards money and our personal finances are the ones that determine whether we sink or swim. The earlier you address self defeating attitudes and habits, the better it is for your financial health and state of mind. This is your life, write the script!

How well do you rate your attitude towards money?

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