Money can be one of life's greatest relationship stressors. What does it say about emotional health?
Did you get your personal taxes filed recently?
What did you discover about your relationship with money?
Don't you love doing your taxes each year? Most of you, unless you are in the financial industry, will say "not so much". Even if you are a highly paid tax lawyer or tax accountant and you love this time of year, you are probably sending out SOS's right about now. You have survived 'busy season', and you are probably planning a reboot holiday to recover from all the last minute filing even with the five day CRA extension (in Canada) due to the Heartbleed Bug.
My take is that in some ways tax season can be a great way to consider/re-consider your own relationship with money. For example: Did you notice any over spending or under spending in any one area of your life? How often do you assess and plan your financial future? Whether you are in a relationship with someone else, or over spending or under-spending all by yourself, it can be helpful to choose one day of the week or month to reflect and plan.
So, be honest.. when I say "How is your financial future looking so far?" what do you?
a.) Click and delete this blog?
b.) Some what triggered by the question, you run through all the ways you over/under spent last year and swear to yourself you'll do better next year. You might even write the beginnings of a new budget?
c.) Reflect on your financial learning, consider self, context and other, write out your insights and understandings/ways you can get better and then share your learning with a trusted friend so that you can both brainstorm healthy resolutions for next year?
Your answer may indicate the type of relationship you have with money:
a) avoidant style – you don't want to tak about it.
b). anxious style – it's a stressful topic and you know you could be a lot better.
c.) secure style – you have a healthy comfort with the topic of money, and you have a curiosity to learn ways of getting better.
For many people/couples, money seems to be the un-sexiest topic ever. Attachment theory really can apply to the way we see ourselves in relationship with money.
If you grew up in a family where money wasn't discussed or where the discussions of money created significant emotional discord and blow-ups, you may want to shift gears and overcome your roadblocks. What were the financial messages you overheard from your caregivers as a child?
Here are some stories that I've heard on the anxious side of the spectrum (where financial worries keep you up at night and are the source of great daily conflict):
"I was told it was rude to talk about money."
"I never saw my parents talk about money, so I really never considered the idea of setting up a budget."
"My parents were very controlling about money."
"We struggled financially, so I never asked for any."
"My father went bankrupt, so money was a huge source of shame in our family."
Some stories I've heard on the secure side of the spectrum (where you learn to easily express your feelings and needs):
"Money was a regular conversation that we were all included in."
"I had an allowance and a budget."
"My parents argued about money sometimes, and they usually came up with some type of solution."
"It's generally been a creative discussion."
Life, love, and your creativity can become complicated when you don't have a secure relationship with money and a conscious pattern of spending. The unhealthy cycle may start with spontaneous over-spending, sometimes (but not always) driven by an emotional trigger. Then in the shame sequence that follows, you may tell yourself a lot of stories about being rich or being poor.
The stories you tell yourself put you into a further emotional dip that may lead to more over spending/or under spending or hopefully to a new pattern of seeking help, talking about the problem, and doing something different.
Here's four suggestions you might consider to develop a healthier relationship with money:
1. Talk to a financial planner. Your local bank provides this service free of charge
2. Develop a routine to take an honest look at your spending/saving over a month.
3. Re-assess your budget.
4. Spend a little and save a little.
5. Do your taxes ahead of time next year.