Why is money such a complicated subject? It should be straight forward shouldn’t it? But there are two sides to money: money the thing, it’s about maths. The other side, well this is where it gets complicated. Go and have a look in the mirror, who do you see? Yourself. That is why money gets complicated.
The maths side is easy. You know how much you earn. You know how much you spend (well, you should do). You know how much of it you save. If you subtract what you earn from what you spend and what you save you have either a positive or negative number at the end. Simple!
We (that’s that person in the mirror again) complicate money because we add meaning and emotion. We tell ourselves a story about money and you know what, we are all great authors when it comes to our money stories!
Now, I know this may be getting into the realms of ‘touchy feely’ but before you can really knuckle under and start making money be just about maths and getting ahead, you need to understand what stories you are telling yourself about money then you can change the ending.
Just to make it even more complicated, money can mean absolutely anything you want it to, and you can use it to say anything you want to.
Let me explain what I mean by giving you a few examples.
What do you think when you go to buy a new car? I heard this from a business owner. “I can’t drive an old car, what would my clients think”?
This statement has very little to do with clients; it’s what the business owner is trying to show and say with the car they drive. ‘I am successful. or ‘This car will make others respect me.’ or maybe even ‘I worked hard for this car, I deserve it’. The client on the other hand may be thinking “If they can afford a car like that, I am paying them too much”. The event is the same, but the interpretation is different depending on who you are. These self statements stem from your personal experiences and point of view.
We can use money to show we care. The list of well known very wealthy people who give back and use their money to help others is very long. Bill Gates, Richard Branson are just a couple who spring to mind. But you don’t need to be rich and famous to use money to show you care, simply giving some coins to a young musician busking shows appreciation and care.
Unfortunately we can also use money to control and manipulate others. I come across this quite a lot when working with separated couples. The emotions surrounding an relationship breakup can bring out quite interesting money behaviour, ranging from completely withholding money from the ex-partner to force them into a settlement, to showering children with money in hope that they will ‘change sides’ , to giving the ex-partner everything in the hope they will come back.
Are you starting to get the picture? Am I trying to get inside your head? Yes, the only way you can make any change in any area of your life is to understand why you do what you do in the first place.
We all have conversations in our head about what we should and shouldn’t do. In terms of our money decisions there are two asking prices, financial and emotional. If you can identify the emotional it is much easier to address the financial.
So, what are you going to do? In reality probably nothing, climbing inside your own head and really looking at this isn’t easy and certainly not for the fainthearted.
If you are perfectly content with where you are financially in life, that is great, and I am really happy for you. But if you aren’t, then start thinking about the stories and meanings you are attaching to money.
If you feel like sharing then post a comment.