It saddens me that so many people have a bad relationship with money. Just like our relationships with people, our relationship with money is usually shaped by the experiences we’ve had with it in the past, both good and bad. I’ll openly admit that years back I had a terrible relationship with money when I was struggling to deal with a mountain of consumer debt.
Many mistakenly believe that those who are rich spend all their time obsessively and single-mindedly thinking about money. Instead, I would argue that those who are first-world poor or skint spend way more of their time thinking about money, feeling consumed with worry and negativity towards it.
I want to share with you ten ways in which I believe you can grow to have a great relationship with money. Like all good relationships, it takes time to build and you have to approach it with the right intent and be willing to put in the necessary work to get what you want.
You too can enjoy a love affair with money. If you can understand and apply these principles in your life, you’ll come to appreciate that money doesn’t have any kind of meaning other than that which you place upon it. This determines how you then feel about it, how you relate to it and the role it plays in your life.
1. Understand what money is (and what it isn’t)
Many people struggle to really understand what money actually is. Their beliefs about it are shaped by their values, their upbringing and the judgments that they’ve formed through their lives. Often, these can be based on incorrect interpretations and misconceptions which are then projected onto money.
In simple terms, money is a universal mechanism for exchange of value; a unit of account and a measurement of worth and value. It is nothing more (or less) than these things. It allows us the universal measurement of the value for the goods and services that we provide-to and obtain-from others. It allows these to be traded in an efficient and universal way.
Money isn’t evil and it doesn’t fuel greed, nor does it bribe or manipulate. Money isn’t positive or generous in itself. These are human traits that some people choose to associate with money. All money does is to enable, encourage and amplify the traits we already have within us.
If you are kind, loving and philanthropic then money will enable you to do good for others. If you are miserly and selfish then this will be evident in how you handle money. You can leverage money for good or for bad; it is your choice.
“Money and success don’t change people; they merely amplify what is already there.” -Will Smith
2. See the good in it, not just the bad
Nothing in life has either all up-side or all down-side; money has the potential for enabling both good and bad. Money in itself is man-made and was created by humans as a vehicle for value; it’s an inanimate thing. For this reason, all the good and the bad things that we associate with money are merely reflections of the good and bad in humanity.
Money has funded the building of schools and hospitals, to research and develop vaccines and cures for fatal diseases. It has funded humanitarian aid for those in need and enabled immeasurable good to be done around the world, throughout history. Some will argue that money has also played a part in causing many such problems too. In reality, money itself isn’t responsible in either case. Rather it’s down to the individuals in power who have chosen to use it for good or bad.
If you see the good in it, the potential for growing investments, for funding charitable ventures and improving the lives of your friends and family and for humankind then you’ll use it as such. This will then attract more of it into your life as you enable the flow of wealth.
3. Realise your beliefs around money aren’t real – they’re just your beliefs
Past experiences, upbringing, nationality, culture and emotional baggage built up over your past life can all contribute to the beliefs that you hold about money. It’s important to recognise that while these might be the way they are for good reasons, they are not real; they are just beliefs.
Decide whether your beliefs are serving you well and whether they’re worth holding onto or not. Be honest with yourself and consider whether you really want more money in your life (which is fine). You may want to develop new feelings and beliefs about money, ones centred in abundance and generosity rather than scarcity and greed. You have the choice to wipe the slate clean and to develop new beliefs that will serve you in the life, and give the relationship with money that you really want to have.
You can treat money as an enabler, a flow of positive energy and a tool with which to enrich your life and the lives of others. These too are just beliefs rather than actual traits of money itself.
Such beliefs will help you to develop your love affair with money as a positive and attractive thing to have in your life rather than something you feel uncomfortable and awkward about.
4. Use it for positive purposes, to bring about a greater good
An abundance of money can be used to bring about great positives, not just for you but for those around you – it doesn’t have to simply be hoarded and stashed away. If you and your business are successful, you have the freedom to use profits for charitable and philanthropic ventures. You may reinvest it in your business, in better facilities, in training and development of your staff and in other ways that benefit their lives and yours in the good-will and positivity that results. You might reinvest into marketing to broaden your reach and to connect with and serve more customers, solving their problems and challenges that they face.
Of course, money also enables you to buy nice things for yourself and your family, the houses, cars and holidays that many crave in return for the efforts they’ve put into their businesses. These treats are an essential part of rewarding and re-energising ourselves so that we can continue pushing forward, growing and becoming ever-more prolific and successful.
It feels good to do good things, not just for yourself but for those around you and for the wider world. My charitable ventures, such as the profits from my books that go into my foundation make me feel good, which in turn boosts my energy and drives me to become more successful, making more money and continuing the virtuous-cycle.
5. Remember people will judge you anyway, so you might as well be rich
No matter where you live, what clothes you wear, what car you drive and how you travel, someone will be there to judge, criticise and comment upon you. You may just as well have more money so that at least you have the surplus to put towards philanthropic ventures as well as being able to enjoy the many benefits that wealth enables you to achieve even if it occasionally brings scorn and judgement.
Many people sabotage themselves, holding back their own efforts, undercharging for their time and limiting their own potential through fear of how they’ll be perceived. If they just got out of their own way, they could make the money and be the success they deserve to be.
Ignore the judgment – it reflects the values, the history and the beliefs of the person who is judging. They’re merely projecting their feelings onto you and how they perceive you to be, regardless of whether this is accurate or not. Don’t allow them and their perceptions to come between you and money.
6. Your past does not have to dictate your future
The lessons that have been taught to you since childhood and throughout your life about money and the beliefs you’ve formed, do not have to determine the path you remain on for the rest of your life. All too often, this is how the future is shaped for many, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Any of your past flaws, failings and mistakes, bankruptcies or strong emotional wounds that you carry from past experiences with money are holding you back and keeping you down for the future. You must work to free yourself to believe in your potential and to understand and accept that what happened in your past isn’t necessarily destined to repeat in the future.
You have the choice to choose new, supporting beliefs to replace your old ones. You can shape your own future.
“Money is in some respects life’s fire; it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.” – P.T. Barnum
7. Decide upon the standard and quality of life you want to live, and then figure out how to get it
I see a lot of judgement towards those who enjoy a first-class lifestyle with the Lamborghinis, the meals in Michelin-Starred restaurants and the five-star hotels in countries around the world. Many who are judging would probably like to enjoy the same things – who wouldn’t? It’s not just luxury goods either; many would like to put their kids through private schooling, to treat family and friends and to pay for amazing experiences for those they care about.
Some will say you can have great experiences for free, but that’s not really the case if you want to travel the world and experience all of its sights and wonders; it will cost money.
Figure out the cost of what you really want to have and do in your life and then use this as a motivation to drive you towards doing what is necessary to achieve it. Earn the money that is required to get what you want, without fear of judgment.
8. Know that you are not ‘taking’ from anyone. You are giving value and ensuring the continued flow of energy
When you accumulate wealth, there can be a misconception that you are somehow taking it or withholding it from others. This is a fallacy. Money isn’t a zero-sum game where one person has to lose in order for someone else to win.
Money is constantly moving, a limitless flow of energy and exchange of value between producers and consumers, givers and takers. Money works best when it’s flowing fastest, bringing value to all who are involved in transactions each and every day. Fair exchange of money for value ensures that everyone is compensated for their part in each transaction. This ensures that money enriches everyone it touches, not one person at the expense of another.
9. The more wealth you have and the richer you are, the bigger the personal economy you will create and sustain around you
You create your own personal GDP from your efforts to amass wealth and to use it for good. Each individual supports their own mini-economy in proportion to the life that they sustain. A billionaire with their own private jet will employ a pilot, maintenance crews, engineers and numerous others whose livelihoods are to some extent enabled by that billionaire. Jobs are created, services are paid for, goods are purchased and all of this is made possible through the money that flows between people involved at all stages.
This causes the individual economies to grow, and this growth expands outwards locally, nationally and globally as the money flows continuously.
“The rich invest their money and spend what is left. The poor spend their money and invest what is left.” – Jim Rohn
10. There are 4 key ways to effectively use your money to build a positive relationship with it- Save, Invest, Spend and Give
If you want to sustainably grow money, to have a love affair with money then you need to ensure that you save a bit, invest a bit, spend a bit and give a bit. This blend of activities will maintain the balance.
It ensures that you’re not just blowing it or giving it all away. Similarly, you’re not hoarding it like a miser, nor are you leaving yourself unable to meet unforeseen expenses that might upset your financial stability in the longer term.
Making sure that you save, invest, spend and give means that you’re playing your part in keeping up the flow of money through the cycle, building your own financial strength, maintaining your own energy and enthusiasm for continuing financial growth as well as being generous and philanthropic about doing a greater good with your money.
Do all these things, and your love affair with money will flourish.