Whether we know it or not, our relationship with money is an intimate one. We toil for money so we can give ourselves and our families a better life. We spend countless hours of our lives agonising over money or the lack of it.
We read articles on how to become better at managing money. And we use money to buy experiences which make us healthier and happier.
Like any other relationship, a strong and healthy relationship with money doesn’t just happen. Just like a marriage therapist would tell you, the key to building a better relationship with your spouse (in this case, money) is through love.
You can’t have a healthy relationship with money unless you’re willing to love it. You have to love it through thick and thin, and make sure your actions reflect this love.
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Bear in mind that the love of money isn’t about being greedy. Rather, we are talking about being able to honour your relationship money the same way we do with other important relationships.
The best thing about improving your relationship with money is that it reciprocates. When you love your money, it stays with you for longer and multiplies, helping you achieve your dreams.
So how you can improve your relationship with money?
How committed are you in your relationship with money? Do you make financial resolutions and never follow through? Do you give your money away too easily?
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Consider saying “I do” to money and committing to work towards having the best possible relationship. You have to tell yourself that you are committed to work with your money to achieve the plans you’ve laid out.
Write down your goals and work out the details on how to achieve them. Review your goals regularly to strengthen your commitment. This way, your decisions on how to earn, spend, save and invest your money can be more consciously directed.
You will have to give out your precious money to pay rent, utility bills, buy groceries and so on. But it is wise to put a ceiling on the amount of money you’re giving out to others every month. If you give out all your money, how can you claim to love it?
A good portion of your income should be for you to keep and invest, so you can build wealth. Deliberately put yourself at the top of the list on who to pay as soon as money hits your checking account.
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In simpler terms, this means that saving and investing should be your priority. Financial gurus recommend that you should always save at least 20 per cent of your income. You can distribute your savings to different accounts including an emergency fund, a retirement fund, investment fund and so on.
Just like date nights can improve your romantic relationship, you have to spend quality time with money to have a better relationship with it. Every day, take time to acknowledge your money.
Set a specific weekly “date night” to review how you’re earning, spending, saving, and investing your money.
Once a month, you can have a more in-depth financial review. Every six months, make the time to gauge how far your relationship with money has come by examining your net worth (value of assets minus debts) compares with the last time you reviewed it.
To have a stronger romantic relationship, therapists advise both partners to understand each other better. The same applies to your relationship with money. You must learn everything you can about money by reading the right books, seeking knowledge from finance gurus, and reading articles (like this one).
Understanding also means celebrating the good and forgiving the bad. When you achieve a financial goal, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the moment.
When you make a financial mistake, be quick to forgive yourself, knowing that you’re in the relationship for the long term. It is also important to have a sense of humour. Money isn’t always serious, it likes to have fun too.
Every relationship can benefit from continual expression of gratitude and appreciation. If you are constantly criticising, blaming, and fault-finding in your partner, it won’t be long before the relationship withers and dies.
Always count your financial blessings. This will give you a positive attitude about money and give you a sense of contentment.
Don’t covet what your neighbour has or their money. Like they say, perhaps the green lawn you’re coveting is the result of a burst sewer. Be contended with what you have, even as you work towards having more.
Just like an obsessive lover ends up losing the object of their desire, being greedy for money will ruin your relationship with it.
Infidelity is one of the fastest ways to kill a relationship. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with money, you must be faithful to it.
When you live beyond your means, this is akin to being unfaithful to your money. This can quickly send you down the slippery slope of financial indiscipline.
It is best to work with the money you have, avoiding temptations to live beyond your means. Give the never-ending clamour to always consume a wide berth, choosing to carefully budget your money.
Learn to differentiate between wants and needs. For example, if you desire the latest iPhone, don’t buy it with your emergency funds. Instead, you can slowly save until you can comfortably afford it without risking your long-term financial goals.