You know what an unhealthy relationship looks like: jealousy, cheating, dishonesty…there are plenty of warning signs. You probably think I’m talking about an unhealthy romantic relationship with a person – nope.
I’m talking about the toxic relationship you have with your money.
During the summer, when there are so many temptations urging you to cheat on your money commitments, what better time to check in and make sure you stay faithful to your goals?
Here are the signs that you may need some help:
1. You don’t talk about it.
When you hold things in and don’t talk about your thoughts or feelings with your significant other, it’s a recipe for disaster. The same goes for money. When you don’t feel confident or comfortable talking about it, you hurt yourself in the end.
Money isn’t Fight Club; the first rule of money is that you DO talk about it. You should be able to have a conversation about your salary at work. You should be able to discuss finances with your partner. You should be comfortable talking about money with your friends and family. And, most of all, you shouldn’t feel any shame in talking about it.
2. You have credit card debt.
Credit card debt is like cheating on a romantic partner. In a way, you’re “cheating” when you buy things you can’t afford. And we all know the damage caused by cheating – there is no happy ending. Don’t do it!
You’re not alone. Most Americans have debt – student loans, car payments, mortgages. While I think the best strategy is to pay this debt ASAP, the debt I’m really worried about is credit card debt. Carrying credit card debt is an indicator that you’re living a life you can’t afford, which brings us to number three on the list…
3. You’re living a life you can’t afford.
Jealousy of the lives of others is as toxic to your financial life as jealousy of a partner is to a romantic relationship. When you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, it’s an indicator that you’re jealous of the life they’re leading – there are things they have that you don’t. So, you spend money you don’t have in order to accumulate those possessions.
These behaviors aren’t uncommon in our society, but they’re problematic if you’re spending most of your income (or more than you’re making) without putting money aside for real life. By “real life,” I’m talking about retirement, taxes, illnesses, broken water heaters, and the like.
4. You don’t feel prepared for the future.
When you’re in a long-term romantic relationship, but you have no idea where it’s going in the future, it can lead to a constant feeling of uneasiness. You can’t relax and enjoy the moment, because you’re worried about what the future holds.
The same is true if you don’t feel financially prepared for the future. Even if you don’t have all the money you need for retirement, you should at least feel like you’re on track and have a plan to get there. Every month, you should be putting away 15% of your income into long-term investments that yield compound interest.
5. You don’t understand it.
At first, a little mystery adds excitement to a new amour. But if you establish something substantial with a partner, and you still feel like you don’t understand them, you’re probably not going to feel great about the relationship. You’ll always be wondering what’s going beneath the surface, stressed that something unexpected (and unpleasant) must reveal itself. The same is true with money. If you feel like you don’t understand it, you can’t feel good about it. Sound familiar?
If you feel like you don’t understand money, you’re in good company! Most Americans are in the same boat. We aren’t taught about personal finance at school, and the attitudes we see our parents modeling at home are often more hurtful than helpful. Still, the absence of education can result in fear and lack of confidence – which are ideal breeding grounds for an unhealthy relationship with money.
Some romantic relationships are too broken to mend, but this is NEVER the case with money. It is never too late to live the wealthy, good life you deserve. I don’t care how much (or little) money you make, or how much debt you’ve piled up.
My team and I are happy to help you. Join us for our next Mindful Money Course, beginning on August 1st. Or send us an e-mail at [email protected]!