A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a woman who said, “I really love money! I just wish I didn’t feel bad about saying it.” Yeah, I love money too! I identified with her feelings, especially remembering my college years when the prevailing cultural message was that greed and money are bad, suggesting that being poor is somehow noble. It prompted me to think about why loving money feels like an important step toward bringing more of it into your life.
I still remember my first purchase in a store. At the age of 5 I set a nickel on the counter and walked out with a couple of pieces of candy and a piece of bubble gum. It felt amazing that I could do something like that!
My first savings account was at First National Bank in San Jose, California. It had a big tower out front with a sign that stated the interest rate, which at the time was 7 percent. At 8 years old, I was mowing lawns and pulling weeds to earn money. I loved the important mission of riding my bike to the branch to deposit the money I earned — I felt so grown up. The biggest thrill of all was knowing that when I had saved $100 I would earn $7 in interest. My money was working for me. How cool is that?
Why do I share these stories? To help remind you that money can be fun. We all have our stories and emotional history with money. Some, like buying bubble gum as a child, are good and nostalgic, while others are not. I learned some valuable lessons about my own money behavior by looking at the “bad” stories, but I want to focus on the positive ones instead. It’s important to revisit our stories as an adult for they are at the root of our beliefs today.
So rather than focusing on what’s wrong with your finances, let’s reframe the situation. Remember what you love about money and why.
- Pride in earning. Earning money is fun. Remember the feeling of being handed money that you earned? You did good work for it! There’s a feeling of power that comes with generating money in your life. These days the experience is often less tangible in that numbers show up in your bank balance, but it is still worth acknowledging and taking pride in your efforts.
- Money contributes to the good feeling that comes from caring for yourself. The only way money starts to accumulate is if you spend less than you earn. I know what you’re thinking, if only you had a dollar for every time someone said that, but it is the underlying meaning that is crucial here. Saving money for emergencies and the future are choices to honor and care for yourself. It gives you the chance to be mature and independent. Plus, it’s fun watching the numbers grow larger!
- Spending money is wonderful! Yes, money is a tool that helps us get what we want. But you have to ask yourself how you are using the tool. This is where the meaning of money for you comes into play. Are you using it responsibly? Are you using it consciously? Check in with yourself as you’re about pull out the credit card. Why are you shopping? Have you been planning this purchase or are you on autopilot? We spend money for any number of reasons, and it’s important to pinpoint that reason before you start spending.
Let your spending be intentional and conscious. You will get so much more satisfaction from it if you have a plan to save and evaluate your needs versus your wants. Knowing what is a proper amount to spend in each area of your life is even more empowering and healthy. This means having a system in place for tracking where your money goes.
There’s nothing inherently wrong about stepping up and declaring your love for money. It is not the root of all evil; it’s a tool that you can learn to use well in service to yourself and others. Considering what you do with it helps you focus on what you really want, and what is most important and worthy of your money. In order to bring more of it into your life, you need to develop a healthy relationship with it. In the end, using money responsibly is more satisfying, because it means you honor yourself and are in alignment with the person you aspire to be.
Look back on some of your fond memories of money for inspiration. Your stories are the keys to understanding some of your beliefs about money. Loving yourself and your money may be just the ticket to bringing more of it into your life.
Jeffrey Stoffer is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.