I touched briefly on what money means in my blog “Money. Love it or hate it you have to live with it”. Let’s delve now a little deeper into our own money meanings. It’s important to define what it means to you, as it impacts on your view of the world, how you view others and your decisions. If you want different results you need to dig deeper than just your behaviours.
So let’s recap. We all have a relationship with money, take that as a given; or read the blog Money. Love it or hate it.
We also associate meaning to money and once you know what that meaning is you can begin to understand more about why you make the financial decisions that you do and how you can make different ones.
What is the first word that pops into your head when you think about defining what money means to you? Other words will follow, but the first word is your primary meaning, the most important one for you.
To help you with your own word, here are some of answers I have heard when I have asked my clients the question. The most common answers are first, followed by a couple of others just to get you thinking
Love. “I work so hard, I am never home, so I make up for it by buying the children lots of gifts.” This is quite a common scenario for working parents who feel guilty so they use money to show love or as a substitute for love towards their children so they feel less guilty themselves.
Power. “It’s my business so it’s my money, and I make all the decisions”. Money and power a very dynamic combination. Using money and position to control others so (in theory) they do what you want them to do. There have been plenty of examples of this dynamic both in real life and in TV drama.
Security. ” I want to feel secure when I retire, know that I can go to the doctor when I need to, spoil the grandchildren a little and do the things I want to do.” This client wants financial security, in this situation a visit to a financial planner can help quantify and plan for how much you need by when and how long it will last. This is a quantifiable and attainable goal.
Contrast this with emotional security, which is the feeling that having money will make you feel good, satisfied with your life or fulfill some other emotional need. Money can’t do this; money can’t turn you into you who you want to be, you are still the same person on the inside.
Freedom. “Money will make me free. I won’t have to work, I can pay off all my debt, travel and enjoy life.” Certainly having money over and above our day to day needs does give us a sense of freedom as our range of choices and what we can do increases. But it is what we do with the freedom that is important,.
Conversely, there are also stories of Lottery winners who end up alienating their families, spending all the money and being in a worse position than before the ‘big win’. So be careful what you wish for, it may not be all that you hope it will be.
Independence. “When I get a job, I can leave home and become independent and do my own thing”. As parents it is a great day when our children leave the nest and go out into the big wide world, some of them fly straight away, others have a bumpy ride and need a bit more support.
Dependent. “I am totally dependent on my partner (family) for money, so I can never take a risk or do what I want”. This is a sad and difficult place to be, a feeling of being unable to express yourself because of the fear of being cut off financially.
Worthy. “Making money makes me feel good. I have proved my family wrong; I am not stupid, now they are proud of me.” We use money to build our self esteem and prove to others that we are worthy. But what about you, are you proud of yourself and your achievements, or will you keep making more money to please everyone else? You can’t equate self worth with your net financial worth, but frequently the two get confused.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Money as a noun: a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes.
Interesting definition, as you can see from the sample of answers to the question ‘What does Money mean to me?’ none of the answers referred to coins, notes or even credit cards. Money means so much more than that to us, and that meaning is reflected in our beliefs, our behaviours and our results.
So, take some time, and think again about what does money mean to me?
Lynda Moore http://www.mymoneyseeker.com