Money, Money, Money

Money. We all need it, and most of us want it. And like it or not, we all have a relationship with it, a relationship that can involve an overwhelming amount of stress. 

In her article How to Confront the Shame of Being Bad with Money [1], Theresa Avila points out that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated at having financial issues. But never fear. A few simple steps can help change your relationship with money and take away your stressful feelings.

Here are a few keys to understanding your relationship with money and making it better:

Understand money is subjective. Everyone sees it differently. “$100 to one person feels completely different than $100 to another person,” says Michelle Waymire, founder of the financial advice site Young + Scrappy. She explains that numbers don’t mean anything good or bad by themselves. “Once you realize that, it strips them of their power by allowing you to focus on the matter at hand.”

Find out why you spend the way you do. This understanding is the key to making lasting changes, says Megan Robinson, behavioral money coach and the founder of Goodbye to Broke. She found out early on that when she crunched the numbers for her clients without digging into the “why” behind their situation, they didn’t make lasting changes.

She says to do some journaling, talk to a trusted friend, or speak with a coach. “Figure out your emotional attachments to money first and form your plan of action afterward.”

Find people you can speak with honestly and openly about your situation. Talk to money-savvy friends. If you don’t have someone close to share your situation with, there are some great online communities where asking money questions isn’t just the norm, it’s encouraged, she says.

Get professional help. Maybe your financial situation is too complicated for general advice. In that case, it might be time to consult an accredited and licensed financial planner required to act in your best interest. “This is especially true when you’re facing a situation where there are thousands of dollars involved.”

Change your mindset. Maybe you think things like, “I’m really bad with money.” It’s almost impossible to shake that way of thinking cold turkey. Instead, create money mantras that help you put things in a positive frame. Robinson suggests, “This is not mine and I will not hold on to it.”

Turn your crisis into an opportunity. Even though your current situation is the result of decisions you made in the past, remember the past is just that, the past. Don’t let it keep you from making progress toward a better financial future.

Remember it will take time. You didn’t end up in your present situation overnight. Just get started in the right direction and work on at least one thing a day to make your situation better, like making your lunch instead of buying it. Baby steps.

With the holidays around the corner, don’t be afraid to let people know you can’t really afford to buy gifts. If you really want to give, offer them a house cleaning or cook them a meal. Just don’t add to the stress of the season by making your financial situation tougher.

For some practical, step-by-step advice on getting your finances under control, check financial guru Dave Ramsey’s website, He’ll give you ways to start handling things right now and plan for the future.

And, most of all, be kind to yourself.