From Awareness to Action: Understanding Your Relationship with Money

On May 31st, TenBridge co-sponsored our first Women’s Wellness Forum alongside Ana Chaud from Sankalpa Life, Dr. Chelsea Eilts from Gem Health, and Wesley Grout from FUNKtional Space Organizing. It was a great success!

Libby and I spoke about relationships with money and the impact they have on our financial health and wellness. Identifying your relationship with money and using this information to guide you to financial health is a topic all people can benefit from. You might want to grab a pen and paper; I’m going to put you to work in this newsletter. Off we go!

To understand our relationship with money, we must first go back in time. Ask yourself, what is your earliest money memory?  

Many times, our first experiences with money have a big impact on our money mindset and self-concept related to money.

Our money mindset is the narrative we tell ourselves about money. Examples include money is confusing, money is scary, talking about money is crude, (insert your own negative example here). I am sure we have all heard a negative money mindset at least once in our lives.

On the flip side, money mindsets can also be positive, such as, money is freedom, or money brings safety and security. In Libby’s case, money brings candy! Her earliest money memory is returning cans to the store as a kid with her sister to collect that five-cent deposit. Proceeds were immediately reinvested in Red Vines and Zots! Libby made her candy last for weeks, while her sister ate hers all in one sitting. Libby’s example showcases a few themes that may have an impact on her money mindset or self-concept related to money, such as, entrepreneurship, saving, and hard work is rewarded.

Our self-concept related to money is the narrative we believe to be true about ourselves in relation to money. Disempowering examples we often hear are I’m bad with money, I’m not a math person, or I’m not a natural at this. Empowering examples include I am confident about my personal finances, or I am clear on my financial path.

Whether your first experiences with money were positive, negative, or neutral – ask yourself how they may have impacted the way you think and feel about money, or the financial decisions you make.

Fast forwarding to the present, this leads us to our next question: what does money mean to you? What memories and feelings does it bring up?

Many of our other life experiences also have an impact on our money mindset and self-concept related to money. You will want to evaluate how these experiences impact how you think, feel, and act in connection to money.

Without imposing judgment, consider if your feelings and narratives are helpful, or if they are hindersome. If your narratives interfere with your ability to reach your financial goals, is there a way you can change the narrative?

For example, perhaps you think finances are confusing. What would help you feel more confident? What actions could you take to get clarity on your financial situation?

Our next set of questions digs into our values. Ask yourself what is the most satisfying thing you’ve spent money on? and what are your values, and how do they show up in your calendars and your checkbooks? 

When we identify which purchases bring us the most fulfillment, it helps us prioritize those things when we build out our financial goals.

When I completed this exercise, a topic that surfaced across many of my responses had to do with giving. For example, as a child I used to save up my birthday or Christmas money to buy my parents gifts for their birthdays or other holidays. My most satisfying purchases happened to be when I gave a gift to someone, and they cherished it. I had never really thought of myself as a generous person. I always thought I liked receiving gifts more than giving them! Nonetheless, giving was a theme that kept emerging. Now I know by prioritizing giving, I will feel more fulfilled by the purchases I make and the way I spend my time.

We work hard for our money and our time and effort is valuable. When we spend our hard-earned dollars on what we truly care about, not only will we feel more fulfilled in life, but we will also probably spend less in general. This leaves funds to go towards your other financial goals such as retirement, a home down payment, or that big trip to Europe you’ve been talking about forever.

After you have finished reflecting on these questions, consider if there are any common themes across your responses and how they show up in your life. Was there anything that stood out to you or surprised you?

Our hope is these questions help you understand yourself and the way you think about your finances. Perhaps this activity will even help you challenge negative or disempowering narratives you hold or encourage you to celebrate your confidence.

The first step to change is awareness, the next step is to take action. We hope this activity will aid you in taking an active role in your financial life. To take control of your money, rather than allowing it to control you.

Let us know how we can help you take action towards a more financially healthy life.

Sirra Anderson Crum CFP®
Financial Planner

The information contained in this correspondence is intended for general educational purposes only and as a means for facilitating a conversation.  Please consider our door always open to discuss your particular situation and how this information might benefit you and fit your specific needs.