Times are tough aren’t they? Feeling the stress of the economy, higher prices at the grocery store, for goods, for utilities? Losing money in your investments and stock market? Job lay offs and problems finding a job?
These types of financial problems are only compounding the fact that money is one of the top issues that couples and individuals indicate are stressors for them.
However, it is important for us to know that the economy is not the only thing that may be influencing our money at this time. Money often means more to us than a way to obtain things. We may have emotional meanings to money that are motivating us as well. What does money mean to us? What are the thoughts that we have regarding spending money? What are the emotions attached to having or spending money?
We begin to be programmed with “money messages” instilled in our childhood. How was money handled in our household? Were our basic needs met or did our family struggle? Were we taught how to manage money? What kind of modeling did we experience? Did our parents treat themselves to little, some, or a lot of self indulgence? Only basic needs? Did they save money? Were they thrifty? What were the direct messages given? “Save, Save, Save”, “What’s life if you can’t have a little fun?“, “You are what you have”.
These messages are later influenced by society and culture as we get older. We are subjected to other economic environments and discover how other people spend money. This may influence us either positively or negatively. The fast paced and immediate gratification of media can infiltrate if we do not buffer ourselves from them.
We can usually identify ourselves in one of the following four subcategories of money messages.
FUN- Money is used for experiences and having fun times. Impulse buys of “feel good now” are frequent. Buy now and save later. What is money if you can’t have fun.
- Security- Money is saved for emergencies, times that it may be short, etc. It gives the person a sense of safely to have money in the bank and to know that all basic needs are met. Money is to prepare for the future.
- Control - Money is used to get what they need out of a system. Maybe to be less dependent upon others, to get what they think they need, and to feel powerful over their environment or others. May be used to manipulate others.
- Status- Money is a means to esteem and feeling good about oneself. May appear as materialistic and person finds self feeling accomplished by a high salary or having “things” around them. Particular attention is given to “status symbols” or name brand items.
If we are in a relationship with someone from another category we will often find ourselves in a continual cycle of conflict because the two different ways of handling money will actually be what is battling against each other. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for us to examine our own issues with what money means to us and be able to accommodate a healthier coping style or mindset regarding money first and then work with others. As well, if we find ourselves constantly struggling with how we individually handle money, the root may be in our ineffective money message.
For further help in challenging these beliefs you may call Vicki at 292-7712.