Many of us have complicated feelings about money. While you may love the feeling of receiving money or using it to buy something nice, there are plenty of “less glamorous” aspects of your finances that are all too easy to hate.
Like any good relationship, building a better relationship with your finances takes time, care and creativity, but it can be done! Check out these tips to spark a stronger connection or rekindle a romance with your finances.
Start With a Money Date
Set aside a specific time and place to sit down and get to know your finances better. Pick a location where you feel comfortable and have access to all of your statements and pay information. You can make it fun by treating yourself to a classic first date staple, like your favorite coffeehouse drink or a casual meal.
Your biggest goals for your first “money date” should be to review and record what you own and what you owe. Don’t feel like you have to solve everything in one sitting! Put subsequent “dates” on your calendar to tackle other projects, such as setting your financial goals and building a budget.
Create Goals You Can Be Passionate About
After you’ve gotten over the “small talk,” it’s time to think deeper. What future dreams do you have for yourself? What things in your life are you most excited to pursue? What obstacles are in the way of where you are and where you want to be?
Once you’ve uncovered what you’re truly passionate about, create a list of your financial aspirations. Include both long and short term goals, and write down the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve them. By thinking through each goal and your game plan to reach it, you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need to work, research and save to make those dreams a reality.
Make Budgeting a Habit You Can Look Forward To
Every relationship needs regular check-ins and maintenance, including your relationship with your budget. If budgeting fills you with dread, try pairing it with a reward or relaxing ritual to make it more exciting. By combining your financial check-ups with an enjoyable form of self-care, you can “trick” your brain into associating your budgeting time with more positive feelings.
Try scheduling your weekly check-in on the same day of the week that you treat yourself to take-out, or consider winding down after your number-crunching session with a relaxing bubble bath. Whatever reward you choose, your new ritual will help you fall in love with regular money maintenance in no time.
Break Up With Your Debt
Debt is often viewed as a “skeleton in the closet” that should be ignored. It may feel easier to hide it away, but it’s better to address it head-on and kick it to the curb.
Make a plan for paying off your financial obligations and put it into action. If you’re already working through your own repayment plan or a debt relief strategy, there are additional steps to make the process go faster. Look for ways to increase your income, make budget cuts or make additional deposits to your debt repayment fund.
Make Sure Your Financial Relationship Clicks With Your Partner
Our individual relationships with money can be complicated, but what happens when you add another person and their money story to the picture? While it may be tempting to separate your feelings and your finances, they are very much intertwined. In a recent study of divorcées, more than 36% listed financial problems as a major contributing factor to the end of their marriages.
Commit to having regular “money talks” with your partner to review your goals and where you stand financially. Discussing personal finances with your partner may feel uncomfortable at first, but it can also help strengthen your bond and build trust. Additionally, if you communicate openly and work as a team now, you can avoid major financial and relational problems with your spouse in the future.
“Date Around” and Discover What Works for You
Budgeting, investing, saving and debt repayment strategies aren’t “one size fits all.” If you’re hitting a wall with a particular method, it’s okay to change things up. Continue to research your options and keep your heart open to new ideas. You can also connect with a financial advisor or a debt relief specialist to learn more about your options and be matched with approaches that best fit your needs.