There is a lot of stigma surrounding money.
It can be a struggle or feel overwhelming. There’s often a conflict between the need and love of what money brings, against the desire to be above money. I get it. Should it even be a goal to have an affluent relationship with money?
Is an Affluent Relationship with Money a Good Thing?
We want success, and often this success is connected to a healthy money relationship. Financial wellness is a component of overall wellness. Eating well, living without excess stress, and being able to give generously to those around us are just a few of the wellness components that rely on a healthy financial situation.
An affluent person is rich—the word means “overflowing.” But a genuinely affluent person is rich in six areas:
If any of these areas are lacking, then a person is still on the path towards affluence and has not yet arrived. For someone to be truly affluent, a healthy financial situation is necessary. This is often overlooked as a base desire because there is an unhealthy view of “more money, more happiness” or “money over all else.” The love and continual overfocused pursuit of money have led to the stigma that money should be avoided or ignored as much as possible.
But, a conscious and purposeful relationship with money leads towards a satisfying and mostly stress-free handling of that money. The goal is to keep the focus on money in balance with your attention to the other five areas of wealth.
What Should an Affluent Relationship with Wealth Look Like?
Having an overabundance doesn’t mean you have to spend in excess or purchase unneeded things (hyper-consumerism). It allows you to spend your money according to your values. Let’s start by looking at the unhealthy affluent person.
The unhealthy version of a wealthy person is going to spend just because—not based on conscious choice. They are going to give in to society’s expectations. They will eat out at a fancy place because it looks good or sounds impressive (not because there is a strong desire). They will buy the newest car or fashions to show their money—not because they truly value them or need to replace old things. They are going to buy the most expensive house they can comfortably afford. They are likely to give in ways that make them feel more powerful or generous, but not from an authentic place of generosity. This is often the struggle of the person who inherits wealth.
Anther unhealthy relationship with money is to seek it above everything else. There is a miserly wealthy person who is going to wear the most practical clothing and shoes. They are not the kind to go buy a new car until their current car is beginning to fail—even then, their choice is highly practical. The look carefully at neighborhoods that are likely to increase in value before purchasing a house. They save every penny possible by looking for the best deal in each scenario. They are often stingy with generosity and only give away a fraction of their wealth. They work extremely hard to get their money and will give up almost anything (family time, relationships, free time, spiritual balance) to get it. This is often the struggle of someone who has worked their way into wealth.
If you know the two common pitfalls, it becomes easier to see what a good relationship with money would look like:
- You understand the value of money and the hard work it takes to get it
- You realize those around you may need help and you are eager to do more than just throw money at their problems (but you aren’t stingy if money is required)
- You value spending money on the things you enjoy
- You are free to support sustainable and ethical companies (even if they cost more)
- You realize that the accumulation of money itself doesn’t bring happiness, but that setting some aside can make an emergency much easier to handle
How is Wealth Achieved?
To get to a place of wealth with your finances, you will want to focus on setting boundaries and goals. Getting started can be difficult, but every step is an essential move towards success.
Have Low or “Good” Debt
There is a big difference between “bad” debt and “good” debt. If you take out student loans (within reason) or a home loan, then you are investing in your future. Credit card debt, however, typically means you have overspent, and you are paying a high-interest rate on impulse buys. Look at your monthly debt-to-income ratio (DTI) by placing your monthly expenses above your monthly income. You want to aim for 36% or lower. Spending less each month than you bring in is going to create a lot of room to grow financially.
Create a Safety Net
After you’ve whittled down your expenses and paid off debts to get to a healthy DTI ratio, you can focus on saving money back for emergencies. Currently, there are a lot of people who are laid off or furloughed because of COVID-19. These emergencies happen all of the time, without warning. Often, when one thing breaks or goes wrong, so do another two or three. The expenses can take you from a place of comfort to a place of debt again if you aren’t prepared. The emergency fund must be established as a source of liquid savings that are not touched until a desperate need arises but can be accessed quickly if that happens.
Save Money to Meet Goals
There are things you are going to want that you can’t currently afford. Those become your goals. Once you’ve gotten your debt ratio under control and created your safety net, you can start saving towards those goals. It’s a great idea to pay for things like a renovation, car, or trip with cash.
7 Ways to Create an Affluent Relationship with Money
The relationship you have with money is vital in balancing your six areas of wealth. Here are seven important ways to see wealth.
Care for Your Needs
Know the difference between money spent on actual needs (like rent or mortgage payments, water bills, basic groceries, childcare, healthcare, etc.) versus wants (like entertainment, restaurants, unnecessary snacks, premium channels, gourmet coffee, accessories, etc.). Your needs should be part of your monthly budget when you are looking at your debt to income ratio.
Understand that Joy is Important
This doesn’t mean all wants are bad choices. Small purchases can add excitement and value to life. An outing with friends, supporting a cause you believe in, buying your child or friend a special treat, or picking out a new book could be money well spent if you keep it within your means, and it adds joy to your day. Don’t let this be an excuse to overspend, though. It can be helpful to set up incentives that reward your behavior for meeting specific monetary goals (like setting aside treat money after you pay off a debt).
Being honest with yourself and your financial situation is the only way to improve truly. This is going to be critical as you face questions about changing jobs, working more (or fewer) hours, buying a new car, taking a vacation, or buying a house. No one is going to have your financial interests at heart or understand your situation as you do. Don’t be pressured to do something that will negatively impact your path towards balanced wealth.
Meditate on Money Affirmations
Peace of mind and perspective comes when you remind yourself of truths surrounding wealth. My Top 10 Money Affirmations are a great place to start.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Teddy Roosevelt
In many cases with money, comparison brings unnecessary spending and discontent. Focus on your growth, not how you rank. Find satisfaction in hard work and experiences that will develop your skills and perspective.
Adjust Your Goals
Live below your means—don’t fall for the temptation to live at or above them (even with a salary increase). Find security by saving excess and continually reevaluate your goals.
Learn How to Love Money and Yourself
Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. The relationship you have with money is similar to the ones you will have with people—it takes effort and can be improved on. Respect your relationship with money and don’t take it for granted. Be honest, spending time to understand your financial situation and true feelings towards money. Approach the relationship with a long-term vision of how you want things to progress. What does success look like for you?
Everyone is going to be different in how they determine real wealth. There is a balance that has to be held, including a healthy relationship with money. During the process, you can live a great life with less spending, but it often requires creativity and planning. This can be a challenging and painful journey if you are truly honest with yourself. But I know you can do it. And I promise it will be worth the liberty of financial freedom.