Written by Maria Hyde
Tuesday, January 4th, 2022
“I'm just not that good with money."
Ever catch yourself saying this (or thinking it)? Maybe you haven't used those exact words, but you might know the feeling. It could be that you feel anxious when you look at your bank accounts, or you're someone who avoids talking about money at all costs.
When you're looking to improve your financial situation, sometimes there's more to it than setting goals and making budgets. Before you implement any strategies, there's one step you may want to take first: start by improving your relationship with money.
Why Your Relationship with Money Matters
According to Taheera Fidaali, a Chartered Professional Accountant and the owner of TULA Accounting Consulting, being good with money isn't just about how much you know—it's also a mental state.
“We're taught that by simply learning about financial literacy, we can get better with money, but we need to dig deeper," she says. “If we don't believe we'll ever have money, or that we can manage our money well, it'll never happen."
Fidaali says our relationship with money can be connected to core beliefs we inherited from our parents, or to experiences from our past.
"These memories left imprints in our subconscious, which affect our money patterns and habits as adults," she explains. "By identifying patterns and reflecting on our beliefs around money, we can work towards resetting them and start to make better financial choices."
Identifying Your Patterns and Habits
We often go about our lives unaware that our beliefs and mindset are affecting our daily interactions with money. How do you know if you need to improve your relationship with money? Fidaali suggests the first sign is noticing patterns and behaviours—things you do over and over again—that leave you feeling stressed, shameful or guilty.
For example, do you shut down every time your partner tries to discuss your joint finances? Do you shop online when you're feeling sad or lonely to help yourself feel better?
When you bring awareness to your patterns, you can then learn to break them.
Connecting the Dots
We don't often take the time to reflect on how our past could be impacting our finances. Fidaali believes it's worthwhile to explore the role money played in our lives growing up. She suggests reflecting on the following:
- How were your parents with money, and what were their core beliefs?
- Do you have painful memories or experiences around money?
- How does your past shape your core beliefs around money today?
“When I speak to groups, and provide them with questions asking them to reflect on their beliefs around money and how their parents behaved around money, people are always stunned because they have never thought about it before," shares Fidaali.
“When people are given the opportunity to share openly about their history with money, things come out of them that they never even knew they thought or felt. It shows how little we pay attention to money on a deeper level."
Committing to Change
Once you've done the reflection, you can reset by creating new core beliefs around money. Begin to move forward in a way that's aligned to how you want to feel and act with money, but be realistic with your expectations.
“True change and wealth take time, so commit to creating a plan and sticking to it," says Fidaali. “Have a friend or someone that can keep you accountable if you fall off track. If things slip for a while, that's okay. Know that you can start again. Progress is never linear."
Just like you might make a budget and revisit it from time to time, remember that developing a positive relationship with money takes ongoing work and checking in with yourself regularly.