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The Emotional Meaning of Money 

Ever notice you seem to have the same argument about money with your spouse, partner or loved one? Why is it that money seems to be such a loaded topic? And why do we have such a difficult time talking about it? 


Additionally, why is it some of us are natural savers while others are motivated to spend and spend- even to our own detriment?


Why do some view money as the root of all evil while others see it as a resource for pleasure?  Why do some think they’ll never have enough while others view money through a lens of abundance?


We can agree that money certainly can be a hot topic and one that we could benefit from talking about- perhaps in a very different way than you have before.


A large part of the answer to these questions and more lies in the fact that we all got messages around money, and the meaning of money from the time we are young. Whether intended or not, we watched parents or guardians complain about money, shout for joy at an unexpected bonus or windfall, and we may also have been exposed to arguments over money as well. 


The messaging and modeling we got around money is profound, and impacts how we grow up and think about money.  If you grew up in a home where money was scarce, you may have developed a scarcity mindset around money.  Though you may have a great income now, you may be motivated to be miserly holding onto every penny and feeling like there is “never enough.”   Conversely, if you watched one or more parents spend often or recklessly, you may have formed beliefs about money that it will always be plentiful and not to worry.


Whatever your family of origin messaging was, you can be sure it had an impact on your attitudes, beliefs, feelings and fears around money.


It is important to identify what your messaging and modeling around money looked and sounded like.  If you are partnered, it can also be extremely helpful to ask your partner what they experienced around money messaging and modeling.


Only when we get honest about what we saw and heard about money, and how it shaped our attitudes and beliefs can we then come together for honest and compassionate conversations.


Rather than circle round and round the same predictable track – never coming to conclusions, or agreements or a better understanding of yourself and your partner, choose to have a different kind of conversation with your partner around money.  Ask them to identify:


  • Their beliefs around money.

  • What emotions come up for them when they think about saving, spending or investing?

  • What they notice they feel when they have a concern of not having enough?

  • What do they notice if one or both of you have blown the budget?

  • What does money represent for them?

  • How might you both improve your relationship with money so it becomes healthier?

  • How can you begin to have different conversations around money to regularly include the beliefs, attitudes and emotions you each experience around money and how it is handled?

  • How might you make different agreements around money moving forward?

  • How might you learn more about yourselves and one another through honest conversations?

  • How can you be more intentional with the modeling and messaging around money in your own family?

  • Knowing what you know now, how will you choose to approach this topic differently?


There is no one size fits all when it comes to money matters. The money gurus can give all the practical advice they want, but until you have some heart to heart conversation around the emotional meaning of money, you will likely take a few more laps around the same old track.


There is a better way.  Take the time to search  your own mind and heart and create a time and place to have meaningful conversations around money that will help you move forward in the best possible way in all of your money matters.



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