Every relationship has a foundation. Every emotion has a back story.
So, when an emotion is evoked, your mind reels back to the story testing the foundational strength of your relationship. A whole arm of science, Psychology, is based on exploring and making sense out of those things. Google and you’ll find psychologists counseling for all kinds of relationship issues and handling all kinds of emotions possible.
However, not one you’ll find who is specialized enough to deal with your relationship issues with the wallet you carry.
And there’s an obvious reason for that,
Think of a relationship. Did a relationship with money cross your mind?
Admit it or not, you share a unique, undeniable relationship with your wallet and the money in it. I believe, like any other relationship, it can fall anywhere in the spectrum, from over-protective to abusive. Like all other, relationship with money also has a back story and a foundation. Else, how do you explain spending and saving habits of your friends and even your family members being so different than yours?
Everybody has a unique vantage point for money.
Now, this is piece is on some shades of relationships that we all have with money.
“I feel money is a source of conflict. Less money, fewer conflicts.”
A little inclination towards Buddhism – makes sense. After all, kings have fought and invaded lands over money and wealth, not just power. Nonetheless, this belief stems from witnessing people (in most cases, parents) fighting over money (doesn’t matter if the fight is over abundance or lack of money). Such kids grow up to throwing around statements like the above and feel more at peace when they have less or sufficient money.
I fall in this category and face trouble handling large sums of money so much so that I save in small chunks at various places in my room. “Never put all your eggs in one basket” sorts.
“Money is a necessary evil. You may not want it, but you need it.”
These people display a similar behavior like the previous category but often fear that they might never have sufficient money. Probably, because they watched their parents worry about paying bills and making ends meet.
“It’s okay to spend. I can always earn more.”
Statements like this show an inclination towards the stay-in-present philosophy with a touch of optimism. Sounds fair, since you never know if this is going to be your last day or moment and you are not made for regrets.
If you identify yourself with this, then you have a liberal approach to money which comes from a background of balanced spending and saving habits — Set your goal, save for it and make yourself happy. Better planner, you are.
However, in some cases, it is also seen as shop-when-upset thinking, similar to have-chocolates-when-depressed. From my research, I feel that this has largely been seeded into our minds through advertisements — more money, more stuff, more happiness. Surprisingly, they have seeded the emotion too!
Off late, I have tried to adopt this psychology and honestly, once in a while splurging on self or others doesn’t hurt. It only brings unexpected smiles or sneers which are fun in themselves.
“Everyone else in the family has to come first before I spend anything on myself.”
Another wise thought. In the selfish world that we live in, such people are like a breeze from heaven (for others). They tend to leave a good amount of wealth or a setting of comfortable living for their near and dear ones even if they have to kill themselves for it. However, their people-first approach often leaves them confused and frustrated:
“For whom should I buy first?”
“I don’t have enough money to buy equally good presents for all of them.”
When I was in college staying in a hostel, I had little money to spare. Going back home during breaks seemed like returning from a vacation and I was taken over by an urge that I must take something for everyone at home.
So, I ended up staying at the hostel for longer periods, saving in pennies for the big break, and gaining the reputation of a miser.
Nothing mattered to me then more than the smiles it brought to the faces I loved. Yet, I changed this approach and now feel more balanced with money.
See the thing is that our outlook towards money is not only governed by our family values and first-money-experiences, but also by our religious virtues. We grow up having emotions attached with money without even knowing it. Some examples are here below:
“Only money that is earned through hard work is worth having.”
“All wealthy people have inherited inherited money and are evil.”
“I don’t deserve money. “
“People are poor because they are lazy. “
Also, you can see that my views about money and my relationship with it have changed drastically as I matured, which takes me to the book I stumbled once in the library, The Seven Stages of Money Maturity. (I didn’t read it, but now I feel I must)
Assume a relationship, say your relationship with your spouse. This relationship will bring you pain, suffering, happiness, contentment, bliss, laughter, remorse, etc. And you know that problem is not the person (your spouse), it is the way you react to the situations that arise between you two. Same way, money is not the issue. It is your reaction towards events arising between you and money.
During my research, I read that one should have a healthy relationship with money. True! But what I think was not right in that research was that it called money to be a tool, a means. I mean, after spotlighting all the back stories and foundation of emotions, they force you to believe what they believe. That’s not right.
All through this piece, I gave every behavior, every kind of relationship (with money) my seal of acceptance. I hope I don’t need to explain why I did that. Acceptance is what we all seek — acceptance without judgment.