There is a wide range of financial information available to us at any time if we are committed to doing a little research. We can learn how to budget, invest, save -- everything we need to know in order to be financially stable. So with all that available information, why are so many of us living financially stressful lives centered around overspending and under-planning?
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This post originally appeared on ReadyForZero.
Because it's not just about obtaining knowledge -- it's about understanding the underlying causes of the issues and tuning in to why we continue to make the decisions that we do. If you've never thought about how your emotions are dictating your relationship with money, now's the time to start.
Here are just a few things to explore in order to get to the root of your money issues.
Following Family Money Patterns
When you think about your first experiences with money, they are likely to be connected to memories of your family and childhood. The conversations and actions spurred by money, whether you were directly involved or just a witness, began to shape your belief system at a very young age.
If money conversations in your house were tense, combative, and stress-filled, handling money now -- regardless of what your current financial situation actually looks like -- is likely to bring up those same emotions. In turn this could cause you to avoid handling your finances altogether. Get to the root of the emotions that these first dealings with money brought up for you. They are likely to be similar to what comes up for you today, years later.
Using Money as an Emotional Band-Aid
Money and food have a lot of similarities -- they both are used by the masses to mask uncomfortable emotions in a way that can be detrimental to your bank account or your body. They provide a quick (and temporary) fix for larger issues. Buying something unnecessary can do a variety of things: give your self esteem a boost, take your mind off of something you've been struggling with, placate feelings of inadequacy, bolster your "I deserve this" attitude.
Think about when you're really tempted to spend. Is it tied to certain situations or when certain emotions arise? Recognising these emotional spending triggers are essential to creating a solid financial foundation.
Allowing Resentment to Take Control
Money and resentment often times go hand in hand. If money has always been a spot of contention in our lives, whether it's from growing up in a household where money was lacking or feeling as we are never paid what we are worth, resentment is probably present.
But think about when resentment is present in a relationship -- you back away and stop being an active, positive participant in the relationship. When it comes to money, this could stop you from being proactive and actually trying to establish positive financial habits. Abundance cannot be present in your life if you're resentful of the currency that provides it. You are always in control of your money situation -- regardless of what a challenge it seems -- and therefore resentment is only a hindrance in claiming that power.
Using Money as an Expression of Love
When it comes to expressing love or caring, many people fall into the trap of thinking that money will do the trick. The more you spend the more the other person will feel the love you have for them. Tying money to this type of emotion can be extremely detrimental -- not just for financial reasons, but for the integrity of the relationship itself. It can essentially halt the authentic expression of love and replace it with something meaningless.
Gift-giving is fine, but it's believing that it is an essential part of a relationship that can be financially irresponsible if you aren't in a place to be doing so. No one in your life should expect you to put your financial health at risk in order to monetarily express love. And if monetary giving is how you combat feelings of inadequacy, you'll likely make decisions that don't match what you are financially able to do.
Knowing How You Tie Money to Emotion
How have your past money experiences shaped the way you think, feel, and handle your finances? What habits and behaviours can you trace back to these emotions? What patterns do you struggle with as a result?
Gathering this kind of knowledge is just as important as understanding investing, knowing how to create a budget, and establishing a savings plan. The truth is, your emotions will dictate how well you do at all the other stuff. After all, our emotions have an amazing way of sabotaging any forward progress we make if we don't address them in a positive, thorough way.
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Kayla Albert is a guest blogger for ReadyForZero. She is a proud Colorado native who enjoys writing about the emotional side of personal finance, as well as sharing tips on saving money and getting out of debt.