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Money Matters

When it comes to matters related to money … what really matters?

We all have a relationship with money. How we view it, perceive it, use it, and respond to it. It is a unique relationship, and one that often conjures up a variety of emotional responses. Based on how we were raised, as well as upon our own personal experiences, most of us have come to form a subjective perception of what money means to us. Is money a means to an end? A barrier? A helpful tool? A source of stress? A cushion? A weight that feels too heavy to bear? A source of joy? The total enemy?  When it comes to matters related to money, we each have an opinion about how we define the value we put on spending, and how we relate to this process in our lives. A host of interpretations might come to mind, or a singular view might prevail. Whatever the case may be, our contextual experiences with money form a relationship, and relationships change and evolve over time. The way you define, use, and perceive money is a completely unique experience, and accepting this notion can be a great first step towards achieving clarity about what money actually means to you.

Here are three categories that come to mind when looking at our relationship to money. By taking some time to carefully think about your own definitions within these spheres, you can develop insight, which will result in your having the strength to make choices that best reflect the type of life you want to lead.

VALUES

What do you value? This might be a pretty big question, so take your time in formulating your considerations! It’s something that only you can answer. Nobody else can do it for you. For example, some people might value experiences more than material items, whereas other individuals might value objects as opposed to the engagement of an experience. Usually, there is some crossover between the two, and finding your own blend and balance of what feels comfortable can provide reassurance. An experience might “require” you to spend a certain amount money in order to pursue or attain it, but it is ultimately up to you to assign monetary value to an object or experience. The amount of money you might spend in order to take part in that experience is something to consider, and will be different from person-to-person. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong when it comes to what we each value in our lives, and learning, practicing, and accepting this notion can be an empowering venture in defining your own values system.

WANTS vs NEEDS

Gaining clarity on the topic of money matters entails defining your “wants” versus your “needs.” It can be helpful to map out the areas of your life by theme (health, entertainment, food, fitness, etc.) and to then jot down your real-life activities associated with each theme. Once you begin identifying the experiences and/or items that you pursue in your own life on a conscious level, you can hone in on which of these entities are things/experiences you truly want, or things/experiences that you truly need. Again, there is no right or wrong answer in coming to your own definitions – we are all different.

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Education is key, and knowledge is power! Learning some basic financial concepts as a part of your core education can be a great way to set yourself up for a healthy relationship with money. Although most of us took a series of math classes as a part of our earlier education, many of us have not comprehended math in a “real world,” life-skills arena … until we wake up one day and find ourselves very much immersed in the “real world!” Whether we are young adults, middle-aged, or about to retire, it is never too late to begin learning, practicing, and implementing strategies to help us foster a relationship with money that is centered on accountability. Unsure of where to start? Sign up for a money management course. Educate yourself on how to budget and track your income and expenses. Read books, take e-courses, or watch videos online related to the topic of financial literacy. Most of all, remember to turn to your support system. Sometimes, those closest to us can offer helpful guidance and advice on the issue at hand. Asking for help can serve us well when it comes down to making healthy choices for our present, and also to help build a secure foundation for the future.

When matters related to money are approached with thought and care, you can come to a better understanding of what matters most to you.

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