I have, at different times in my life, been earning healthy amounts of money and at other times I have been incredibly broke. To say my finances have been variable is putting it mildly.   I have always known that money wasn’t really a motivator for me, but only in recent years have I come to understand that while that may sound unimportant, it is the product of a thoroughly unhealthy relationship with money and managing finances, and the way to guarantee those broke phases keep on returning.

We live in a culture that tells us that liking making money, and having it even more so, is something slightly offensive. Many people believe the rich are “different”, that money is “evil”.   Others have self-limiting beliefs, saying to themselves “I will never be able to afford that”, or “ I will always be broke”, and ensuring it comes true.  Spending time on our finances maybe something we dread or seem slightly sinful, depending on how much we have in the bank.

Studies of our relationships with money find we are strongly influenced by our parents’ attitudes towards their finances.   The rebel child whose parents are careful with money will be deliberately spend-thrift.  The child of a couple of opposites, one money worrier, and one careless spender will find themselves with conflicted emotions, if they spend or if they save. High achieving women who have lacked paternal affection often try to validate with financial achievement.  Many of us go shopping to fill some emotional void and make ourselves feel better.

All these examples show reactions to emotions that are attached to other things or emotions associated with money, not the hard notes and coins themselves.  In other words, they are all misplaced and misleading.

Few parents talk to children honestly about money and finances for fear it will worry the children.  They say it ought to be taught by schools   When it is taught at all, girls tend to be taught about family finances and boys about savings and investment.  There is even evidence of a pay gap in boys and girls’ babysitting pay.

Attitude to finances start in childhood

The results spill into later life.  Well over 50% more men feel confident about finances and handling investments as a result.  In addition, many women feel reliant on partners, especially if they have young children.  Most still earn less.    Financial dependence will often have downgraded the woman’s self-worth.   They return to work often out of fear, fear of losing what they have after a crisis in their lives, or to protect their children.  Women are terrified of “not having enough”, while men work for money and achievement. All of which adds up to no financial confidence.

Money affects our adult relationships with our finances

. The more economically dependent a man is, the less likely he will be to cheat, whereas in women it works the opposite way. Rows about money break up relationships.  Authors Dr. Diane Ealy and Kay Lesh say that “for most women, money is NOT just a tool for achieving goals; it’s an emotional issue – elusive, sacred, risky and downright scary.”

We all should check ourselves regularly for words and phrases we are associating with money.  Make a list with the positives on one side, negatives on another.  Trace those words back to find whose voice you are hearing.   Do you, or example, hate money, or do you hate being short of money?  Were you told it was “bad” to borrow?  Challenge the beliefs you have with real-life facts.   Look at the decisions you have made as a result of those beliefs in your life.  Have you endlessly worried about money, or been happy because of it.  Has it reflected on your self-worth?  Are you a hoarder or a careless spender and are these habits as a result of any of the beliefs you have written down?

Many women do not truly believe they can make much money which puts them on an immediate back foot when it comes to finances.  Yet successful entrepreneurs from every possible background would now tell you differently.  We stop ourselves from going out and achieving it.   Finances can be shrouded in mystique if you have never really learned about them too, leaving you hesitant, afraid even.  Like any other fear, master it with learning, knowledge, and understanding.

Then look at your spending.   Rich people didn’t get rich or stay rich by continually spending it all on “feel good” stuff.   They are too mentally sorted and have sensible habits.   Use the golden rule of spending 50% on essentials, 20% on savings, and 30% on treats and non-essentials.  Check for that “feel good” spending and find happiness in achieving goals instead.  The next time you are bored, instead of watching tv, consider if you have time to come up with another way to add to your income.

Be honest with yourself about your goals.  What is rich for you, maybe poor to someone else.  And vice-versa.  There is no right and wrong.  Set your own bar and be as rich as you want to be.  Remember, though, if you have the ability to make large sums of money that you don’t particularly want,  you could do an awful lot of good with that excess.

A healthy relationship always includes being grateful for what you have and money is no different.  Work on changing your whole approach to more of a glass-half-full one.  Remind yourself of what you do have and be grateful for it every single day.

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