Now I appreciate that’s easier said than done. After all, you can spend a lifetime having a better relationship with food and money can have an even bigger emotional pull. The thing is, you can’t have a relationship with money. It’s an inanimate object and should simply be a helpful tool to help us live the life we want. But most of us don’t see it that way and they’ve developed an unhealthy relationship that’s turning, if they’re completely honest, a little bit toxic. That’s why I think we need to break up with money.
It’s not easy but here are my top ten things to help you do just that.
1. Do a financial detox. If you’re going to break up with someone you need space. You need to unfollow them on social media and start to separate from each other’s lives. It’s no different with money. In order to break up with money I think you need to start with a financial detox so you press reset and start to realise how you act with money. A detox isn’t anything fancy – it’s simply 30 days of buying nothing new or essential. And no, shoes are not essential.
2. Understand how you feel. You may have heard about emotional eating but emotional spending is just as bad for your health. Moments like, ‘it’s been a tough month, I deserve something pretty’ or ‘I work hard, I deserve a $100,000 car’ or ‘my child won’t succeed without us spending $40,000 per year on schooling’. The problem is, you might deserve it but you also need to afford to pay for it.
3. Understand how you’re spending. If you’re in a bad relationship you need to face what’s going on. It’s the same with money. After your financial detox, track your spending using one of the many cloud based solutions available (a simple free tool is on the Money Smart website) so you can start facing where your money is going.
4. Work out your goals. At some point, a couple will work out together where their
relationship is heading. In order to start viewing money as simply a tool again, it’s important to work out what your goals are in life. I appreciate it’s tougher to look any further than three years ahead but I think three year and 12 month goals are essential.
5. Understand your values. In order to transfer your feelings from money onto something really worthwhile, make a list of what you value in life. Maybe it’s freedom, family, security, significance or loyalty. Once you’ve worked out your values then take a look at your goals and work out if they fit with your values. If they don’t make adjusts until they do.
6. Work out a plan. Sometimes goals and values can seem so far removed from our current day that it’s easier to just buy a cocktail and continue as you are. Instead, work out how much money it would take to reach that plan and how long it would take. So if your goal means you need $10,000 in 12 months’ time that means you need to save $200 per week. Now you’re turning money into a ‘pool boy’ and realising it’s simply hired help rather than something you should be having a relationship with.
7. Start to become a conscious consumer. Working out a plan is great but unless you’re monitoring how you’re going, it’s too easy to go off-track. Take time every month to check how you’re going, see if you’re on track and make any necessary adjustments. It’s always easy to lose a sneaky kilo that sneaks on rather than dealing with 20kgs so by jumping on the scale with your money regularly you’re keeping a tight rein on it.
8. Remove yourself from temptation. I don’t have chocolate in the house because I have absolutely no willpower. Sure I could decide I want to get tougher and purposely keep chocolate in the house but I’d be beating myself up daily because I know I’d eat it. It’s the same with money. If you know you never window-shop but always window-buy then don’t window-shop. If you know that brunch with girlfriends always ends up on a Saturday afternoon shopping trip then suggest you move to a retail free location instead. Remove the temptation rather than waving a big stick at yourself.
9. Seek help from a relationship counsellor (aka money expert). Sometimes relationships just end up toxic and messy and we can’t extract ourselves. It can be the same with money. You might have a go at all of the above and it just doesn’t work for you or you might know yourself enough to know you need help from the start. So seek out great advisers (like me) that can help you break up with money and who will stay in your corner as your cheerleader and coach until you do.
10. Consistently monitor, gauge, adjust & track. Establishing a healthy respect for money is a great thing to do. But it shouldn’t be done once, big pat on the back and you never do it again. So that you don’t end up back in the same place you started (or worse) this should be a lifetime quest to not just keep money under control but to use it as a tool to create in your life more freedom, empowerment and options.