The Duchess of York has been linked to another financial scandal. In the ongoing efforts of the former wife of Prince Andrew to make more money, she has tarnished her reputation and that of her family, and now the good name of one of Britain’s leading universities.
This time, she is using her role as an ambassador for the Institute for Global Health Innovation to promote a $100 blender on US television. Underlying the Duchess’ never ending financial problems, says financial advisor Suze Orman, is a psychological problem, a low sense of “self-worth.”
Even those who have money let money control their lives. Psychologist couches are full of people who have met and surpassed their financial goals but are not happy. Even among the comfortably retired, there are discontents. Financial planning is often divorced from what is crucial to us in life.
For many of us, “managing money” is somewhat of a misnomer. Money controls our lives. This is because we have deep emotional attachments to money. Our relationship with money begins in childhood. If you received your allowance for doing your chores, you would work hard in life in exchange for your pay. If your father gives you money to be quiet during baseball games, on the other hand, you are more likely to engage in bad behaviour in exchange for money, such as running up your credit card bills and expecting your spouse to pay them off.
Traditionally, the female relationship with money has been more complicated because women were expected to be financially dependent on men. Whether your finances look like those of Warren Buffet or Sara Ferguson‘s, you can change your money habits if you are willing to explore the behaviours and motivations behind them.
Develop a Healthy Relationship with Money
Following are 10 steps to put you on the path to financial wellness.
- Become conscious of the role of money in your life – Once we start to explore our relationship with money, we discover that money controls us, says psychologist Kate Levinson, author of Emotional Currency: A Women’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship With Money. Our choice of food, clothes, entertainment, education and even who we spend time with is influenced by our budget. The first step to gaining control of your money is exploring your “inner money life.”
- Explore your emotions about money – Emotional triggers can tell you about your relationship with money – guilt, stress, fear, satisfaction. Leasing an expensive car with money that should go towards retirement can elicit feelings of guilt and fear facing a future with a small retirement fund.
- Align your finances with purpose – Was buying the new Tesla electric car in your budget, or a whim? Whims can be expensive. Say you bought the $10,000 Tesla Roadster in 2010, instead of buying 5,000 Tesla stock at $20 for your retirement portfolio. It is now 2015, and the value of the car has plummeted as new Tesla and BMW electric cars are introduced. The 5,000 shares of Tesla stock would be worth $1 million today based on the $200 per share price in April 2015.
- Live within your means – Overspending is a major cause of stress. When we are under stress, we make bad decisions. Many studies have shown that when traders are under stress, they are more likely to underperform the market. Spending too much money on a dress for your date on Friday could lead to bad investment decision for a month.
- Make a date with your money – Your budget, spending habits, and investment decisions should be reviewed weekly. When something changes in your financial situation, explore why. Know the cause of shifts in the value of your investments. Reward milestones – why not, by spending more money! Ensure you budget for this reward in advance.
- Use family and friend referrals as secondary recommendations – More than one-fifth of investors seek investment recommendations from family and friends, according to SEI. Investment advice is streaming over social media networks all day. Ensure to follow up recommendations with hard research. Friends with bad investment advice, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, can create stress in your life.
- Keep an arm’s length relationship between money and family and friends – Money can complicate relationships.
- Maintain low debt – Sometimes making the best financial decisions means putting cash to work in the market rather than paying down debt. Your financial planner can help you analyse the interest rates, tax advantages and other factors influencing debt management. Too much debt is not only sucking up money on interest payments you could be investing elsewhere but also creating a psychological burden.
- Ask lots of questions – Leave nothing to chance, or to your financial planner. Ask all the questions you need to know to have financial security and a psychological safety net.
- Use a financial planner and life coach rolled into one – More and more financial planners are training as life coaches. These professionals understand what real happiness is and how achieving it requires aligning financial goals with personal life goals, values and passions.
Ensuring you have a financial safety net is the best way to maintain a healthy psychological relationship with your finances. Having a positive correlation with money will positively affect all other investment and financial planning decisions you make.
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