It’s all about the money, Honey. Well, okay, maybe it’s not ALL about the money, but when you want to share your gifts with the world to make it a better place, money has to get involved.
I was recently chatting with a fantastic client who wants to start a nonprofit empowering women in the corporate world. “That’s amazing!” I told her. “Let’s start game planning. What is the number one impact you want to have on these women?”
“I want them to be more powerful with money. I want end the gender wage gap.”
“Great!” I said. “What’s your relationship with money like?”
“Yeah, I mean…I don’t actually like money. I want these women to feel good about asking to be paid as much as men, but I feel weird talking about it, and I feel horrible asking for it.”
“Most women do,” I said. “And I can totally understand why you want to empower women around their money. Sounds like we need to start with empowering you around your money first.”
“Do we have to? Honestly, I'd rather just not deal with it.”
At this point, we both laughed because whenever you’d rather not deal with something, it’s usually a clue that you need to do exactly that.
I constantly get asked questions about “money stuff” like:
“How do I figure out what to charge?”
“How do I charge what I’m worth?”
“How do I have a career I love and still make sure I have health insurance and a retirement plan?”
We’re never going to be rid of having to deal with money, so we might as well gain some agency around it. Since you’re constantly in a relationship with money, it should probably be a good one.
5 Things You Can Do to Start Improving Your Relationship with Money ASAP
1. Take Your Bank Account to Couple’s Therapy.
Okay, maybe not actual couple’s therapy, but go with me on the metaphor here.
What’s your relationship with money like right now? Is it a happy, healthy marriage where you’re both getting most of your needs met, or do you ignore it? Or worse: do you constantly criticize it, tell it it’s not good enough, and act like it’s the bane of your existence?
Just like a romantic relationship, having a good relationship with money requires quality time and attention.
You can’t ignore your partner for weeks at a time and then expect him/her to be excited to fulfill your every need. When I first realized this, you could almost see the lightbulb appearing over my head. “Of course my bank account is acting out right now! I’ve been really mean to it!”
The first step in improving your relationship with money is simply to acknowledge its existence and commit to improving the partnership. There’s no divorcing your need for money, so you might as well try to make nice. Sit down and have an honest conversation with your money, no judgment.
How have you been showing up in the relationship? How has your money been showing up? What do you guys need from each other? What can you do to be a better partner?
2. Own Your Money Story.
Intellectually, I know that money doesn’t actually have control over me-it’s simply a form of energy that I can use to accomplish things. It’s just a tool, my work is simply an energetic exchange, blah blah blah. But the truth is that sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes it feels like I’m just reacting to money, and that victimhood story exhausts me.
Before we start improving your money story, let’s own what’s already there. What stories are you operating with when it comes to money? What’s the first word or phrase that pops into your head when you hear the word “money?”
For me, it’s “necessary evil.”
When I think about where the “necessary evil” story came from, I realized that it isn’t even MY story. I realized that it’s a story I learned from my family and culture, it doesn’t reflect how I feel about money, and it certainly doesn’t reflect how I want to feel about money! Since we know that money is just energy, we have to start separating the actual energy of money from the stories we are bringing to it.
Empowering money stories might sound like this:
- “I am very resourceful and know how to provide for myself.”
- “Opportunities are everywhere.”
- “having money allows me to improve my life and my community.”
Disempowering money stories might sound like this:
- “There’s never enough.”
- “I can’t afford needs, not wants.”
- “All spending is bad.”
Grab your journal and a pen and write out as many of your own money stories as you can think of. Circle the ones that might need a makeover.
3. Practice Gratitude.
Gratitude is tough for me. Because I deeply value personal growth, I tend to see opportunity for improvement everywhere. While this pattern keeps me evolving, it sometimes steals my peace in the here and now. When it comes to money gratitude, simply noticing what you have and acknowledging it can shift you from freaking out about what you don’t have to appreciating what you do.
Light some candles, pour a glass of wine or cup of tea and breathe in deeply. Jot down 10 things you are grateful for when it comes to money. They could be as small as the 20% coupon you got at Target or as large as the opportunity to start a side hustle. Try simply practicing reverence for your current money situation and see what that gratitude inspires you to.
4. Name Your Money Values.
When you leave the disempowering stories behind, you get to decide what role you want money to play in your life. Remember, money is just energy. It’s nothing more than a stand in for what’s important to you, and you get to vote for what you value with how you use your money energy. Just like you use your time energy for what (and who) matters most, you get to use your money energy for what and who matters most.
So let’s get clear on what matters most.
For me, money has always been a stand in for freedom and independence. I have never been great at being told what to do, so I needed a way to bring in money without having to take orders from anyone but myself, hence my solopreneurship. For me, money represents the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want. When I have a certain amount of money in my bank account, I feel free.
If money is simply a stand in for what you value, what are the core values that money represents?
For me, they are freedom, growth, connection, ease, and vibrance. Since growth is a core value for me, it makes perfect sense that I’m happy to spend money on coaching. Since ease is a core value for me, I will happily pay Amazon to deliver my groceries so I can spend time doing other things. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to money values, and you’re not restricted to using money for only noble or responsible things. I am absolutely delighted when I use my money to purchase new shoes because they make me feel vibrant and beautiful, and I’m okay with that.
Grab your journal and jot down the 5 best purchases you’ve made in the past 3 months. They could be huge, like a car, or tiny, like a favorite new nail polish. Size doesn’t matter as long as you felt completely delighted by the purchase and not wracked with guilt afterwards.
Now take a look at the list and see if you can figure out what value is represented in each. My list looks something like this:
Hybrid Car (Sustainability)
Plane Ticket for Girls Getaway (Connection)
Yoga Studio Membership (Vibrance)
Floral Dress (Vibrance)
IRA Contribution (Stability)
Now that you’ve gathered a few big values from your previous purchases, add a few more money values to your list. Now you have a cheat sheet for your next purchase. Whether its groceries or a yacht, you can consult your values list to decide if this purchase really feels good and reflects the money story you want to live.
5. Rate Your Current Spending Habits and Adjust Accordingly.
Take off your good/bad judgment hat and put on your curiosity hat. It’s time to check out your spending habits and get the lay of the land. Print last month’s credit card or bank statement and sit down with three highlighters in different colors: green, yellow, and pink.
Read each purchase or bill, and rate it based on how good it feels and how well it reflects your money values. Highlight each purchase or bill accordingly:
- Green = I feel so great about this! It totally reflects my money values, and I have no icky feelings of weirdness, resentment or guilt here.
- Yellow = I’m pretty neutral here. I could take it or leave it. It might not exactly reflect my values, but it’s kind of necessary, and I'm okay with it.
- Pink = I hate that I actually spent money on this. This doesn’t reflect my values at all, and I really regret this purchase.
After each purchase is rated, take a step back and just notice what you see. Are your pink purchases things you feel obligated to buy for other people? Maybe your green purchases all point to a specific activity you love. How can you adjust your life to include more of the green and less of the pink?
Congratulations, you money genius, you! You're well on your way to having a better relationship with money, a necessary ingredient in creating the business and life of your dreams.