The more I continue on this journey of educating people about money, the more I realise that this is not a subject that can be looked at from a purely technical point of view.
It’s not just about how the numbers work: Money is actually a relationship, one that can be quite dysfunctional and affect the other relationships we have in our lives. I am not claiming to be a psychologist what I write here is purely from what I have observed over the years while helping people manage their personal finances.
Statistics also show that most relationships break up because of money. When two people enter into a relationship, they already have a fundamentally different way of looking at money.
They usually do not know they have this difference, so their partner’s approach to money management is simply labelled. “The wrong way of looking at it.”Also, to be fair, we have never been equipped with the tools to handle discussions about money. Despite its importance in relationships, it is definitely not a subject that is ever adequately handled in pre-marital counselling.
Every one of us has a money belief. This results from our past experiences which are now shaping our current habits. If you grew up in a household where you felt there was lack, you are most likely going to be extremely conservative with money due to the need to feel secure.
You need to see actual cash in the bank to feel safe because your biggest fear is not having any.
If you grew up in a household where you felt you were denied, which is different from lack, you are most likely going to rebel. You see your current earning potential as a means to reward yourself with what you feel you did not get. You may become a spendthrift or shopaholic.
The crux of money problems in relationships is often down to communication.
Irrespective of habits and backgrounds, it is essential to establish common financial priorities or goals and decide who plays which roles, both in terms of financial input and administrative functions.
One person may be earning more or all the money, but another may have better skills at managing or investing it.
One person may be more responsible when it comes to making sure bills are paid on time. Unspoken aspirations for the future tend to create a lot of strife as they basically result in unspoken expectations that the second party should or should not do with today’s money.
At the end of the day, and after evaluating the various experiences people have with money, my conclusion is that there are basically two approaches. You can approach money from a point of lack or scarcity. You will always find a reason to say, “I don’t have enough, I don’t earn enough, my debts are overwhelming me, I don’t have the right qualifications,” and so on.
If your inherent belief is that there is “not enough,” your habits will support this belief no matter how much you like the logical idea of becoming rich. You will continue to focus on lack and perpetuate habits that ensure this lack persists in your life.
You can also choose to approach money from the view point of abundance. You will say to yourself, “This is what I have today for which I am grateful. This is what I can do to grow it. I can learn more about investments. I will work in a way to ensure I get an increase next year,” and so on.
No matter the past experiences that may have shaped your beliefs up to today, your habits will now start to emulate the abundance you wish to have.
You clearly do not want to get wealthy if you are racking up credit card debt every month. You want to get wealthy if you choose to learn how to manage money, get disciplined about saving irrespective of the amount.
Waceke runs a programme on personal financial management. Find her on:email@example.com