I recently went to teach at a leadership course. In usual format, I went round and asked each of them what they would like to achieve from the session. Many of them said that they would like to change their relationship with money. For some reason, that particular day I just noticed that many people phrased it like that. However, when I look back, I have heard many people use those exact terms. Maybe you also want to change your relationship with money. Maybe you are also wondering what that means. Maybe it has been an abstract word that is simply thrown about.
To break this down, let’s start by thinking of money as an actual ‘person’. How would you define that relationship? Is it fleeting, elusive, solid, intimate? Do you avoid this person, gossip about them, complain about them, tell them that they are never enough? If money were a person, what would they say about you? Would they claim that you treat them well, or would they say that you spend no time with them at all, yet you want their best? Would they say that you value them, or are you constantly dismissing them? Spend a few minutes and reflect on these questions. That’s what a relationship with money is all about. Here are a few things you can do to change this relationship.
1. Put Money in its Place (Click to Tweet This)
In the session that I taught, many people said that money is in control, not them. After all, bills need to paid. There are probably a lot of decisions we make everyday on the basis of money right? However, it’s never money that makes that decision. The decision to pay or not to pay your power bill still rests with you. You can opt not to have electricity. You make the choices, money doesn’t. You have made the choice to live in a certain way and yes, money is needed to sustain that, but the choice is yours. That piece of paper is not in control, you are. You are the decision maker. Whatever good has come out of your relationship with money, you can take the credit. But also take the responsibility of the things that have not been too good. Money did not put a gun to your head and tell you, “Borrow me” or “Lend me out” or “Spend me”.
2. Kill the Blame Game
Because you now understand that you have made the choices, can we please kill the blame game? A typical conversation about money will include variations of how broke we are and how money is never enough. Imagine if you were in a relationship where the other person is always complaining about you. Words have a lot of power. We begin to live what we say. When people are complaining about how broke they are, they are usually doing the very same thing that keeps them broke. They complain about being broke, while drinking in the bar! Just like relationships thrive on gratitude, so does money. If you start valuing what you can do with one thousand shillings (instead of complaining that you only have that) you will be able to figure out how to make triple that (Click to Tweet This)
3. Your Identity is not Money
Contrary to what society and reality TV throw at us, you are not defined by money. You are not more valuable as a person, just because your paycheck has extra digits. It may allow you to live a certain way or make certain investments, but it should not be the source of your security as a person. You know why? The paycheck can disappear. The digits can reduce. The house can go. The car can go. The investments may not work out as planned. The business can go. The job title can go. We know this, and that is why we do crazy things to hang on to some of these things. However, do you really want to live a life where your sense of value is dependent on things that can go? Depending on money to give you identity is too big of a job description for money. It’s like telling your five- year old child that he/she is now the family doctor. They’ll crack under that pressure just like our relationship with money cracks when we put that pressure on. When we think money should be our success, confidence, reason for respect, status etc. it will never be enough. We will always want more, and there’s always a bigger title or a better gadget to buy.
Can you have a good relationship with someone you don’t know, and with whom don’t spend time? You don’t know what makes them tick, upset, happy, thrive etc. I don’t think so. Have you taken time to understand what makes money work or not work? How do you know when your husband/wife is not happy? How do you know when you child is just about to throw a tantrum? How do you know that your colleague at work is in a good mood? You have built awareness about them because of the time you spend with them. We all want to be wealthy, but we cannot grow what we don’t know. Do you know where your money goes? Do you know what options are out there for you to grow it? We have too many people looking for the overnight success opportunities because they do not want to invest the time to nurture this relationship. Spend time with your money. Have at least a monthly meeting to evaluate where you are, what your plans are, what needs to happen etc.
5. Multiplier vs. Consumer
Money needs direction. I quoted in a recent article that money follows vision. It cannot serve two objectives. You have to decide which direction you are giving it at this stage of your life. The two cannot compete. Is it a resource to consume or a resource to multiply? (Click to Tweet this) That will dictate many things in your relationship with money. If it is a resource to consume, you will spend first before doing anything else. You will want to make money to spend. If you find an unexpected Kshs 100,000 in your bank account tomorrow, your mind will default to what you can spend it on. However, if the priority for you is multiplication, you will probably save or invest first, you want to make money to grow and have an impact in your life and others; your mind immediately goes to how to invest with the same Kshs 100,000.
This relationship can change for the better, and you get to define it.
What does your relationship with money look like? Would you like it to be better? The Centonomy 101 Program will help you see and interact with your money differently, and help to accelerate your financial growth. Click here to learn more about Centonomy 101.
Waceke Nduati-Omanga runs programs on Personal Finance Management, Entrepreneurship and Career Success.