When you hear the word “money,” what emotions do you feel? Many times when we talk about money, we focus on our money goals, how much money we don’t have, when we would like to retire, or how far the stock market is up or down today. But do you ever stop to think about how you truly feel when you think about money? Some in the financial services industry are beginning to delve more deeply into money feelings with their clients. Our industry as a whole is starting to focus on education, value-based goals, and a more holistic approach.

Many times, we can see what we should be doing with regard to our money, but something always seems to stop us – something gets in our way. These are the stories we have learned over time about money. The stories are neither good nor bad, but when they surface, we should ask the question, “Do they help us get to our financial goals?” If not, we should start developing a new story.

For example, do you “know” what you should do in a down market but just can’t seem to do it? You may be thinking, “The market is down, so I should be in quality investments, make sure I am diversified according to my risk tolerance, and then look for any tax harvesting opportunities.” Our industry makes it seem so simple, right? Instead, you lay awake at night worrying whether you will have enough money. You start to panic and then take action that might not be in your best interests. Why is this?

In my opinion, we tend to feel this way when we have not developed a good emotional relationship with money. Instead, we use money as a distraction from what is really going on. The worry about money might actually be a worry that we let our children down. The worry about money might actually be because we have imposter syndrome about running our company. The worry about money might actually be because we grew up constantly watching our parents worry about money.

How many times have you had an argument with your spouse about money? Too many to count? But if you took away the money, what was the real reason for the argument? Was it because you didn’t feel heard? Or you don’t feel your spouse values your choices in the relationship? And if we really looked at the underlying cause, I am sure it goes even deeper than that. But can you see how we use money as an easy way to address a situation that might make us emotionally vulnerable?

How can we start making a meaningful change in our relationship with money? Next time you find yourself fearful or angry about money, take a moment to breathe and ask yourself the following questions. Better yet, take out your journal and write down the answers as they come. Getting it on paper allows you to slow down and see things from a different perspective.

  • If it is not about the money, then what is it really about?
  • If you had plenty of money, would this still be an issue? Be honest!
  • Where do you think you learned this behavior?
  • What would your life feel like if you no longer held on to this money story?

Having a healthy relationship with money doesn’t happen overnight, but if you continue to take a small baby step every day, you will find yourself running toward your financial goals.

Remember: It is always about the money, but NEVER about the money.

Author Anne M. Mank Director of Financial Planning

Anne co-hosted the weekly radio show, Money Sense, and is a Certified Integrative Holistic Coach.

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