Are You in Charge of Your Money, Or Is Your Money in Charge of You?
Financial Expert Explains That The Problem With Money Is That It's Not Really About The Money
If familiarity truly breeds contempt, then money is the most contemptible thing in our lives.
It's that familiarity with money that prevents us from managing it well, according to Jane Honeck, a CPA and money coach who reasons that our unexamined beliefs about money are what cause us to mismanage it in our lives.
"We're introduced to money without so much as a hello when we are very young," said Honeck, who is also the author of The Problem With Money? It's Not About the Money! (www.theproblemwithmoney.com). "Now, when we get a new toy, or a stereo or a TV of our own, at least they come with instruction manuals on how to use them. When we first encounter money, there are no instructions at all. We grow familiar and intimate with money and begin using it as soon as we start getting an allowance, and so we grow up thinking that we know how money works. However, when you encounter money problems in later life, try to strategize your investments, try to balance your monthly budget or plan your retirement, the truth becomes clear: money is not so easily understood. It's complex, and the only way we can master it is to go back to the beginning and really think about what money really is, and examine our previously unexplored beliefs about how money works in our lives."
Honeck's feeling is that our familiarity with money gives us a false sense of understanding of money, and forces us to live unconsciously with money -- and that's tantamount to standing in a burning building without the ability to smell the smoke. Her solution is a three-step guide to rethinking our relationship with money.
· Ask ourselves what we think money really is -- Many of us can't answer that question, because we never really thought much about money and its role in our lives. We simplify it as something we use to pay for the necessities of life, and once we use it, we have to make more. As important as money is in our lives, wouldn't it follow logically that we really should have a deeper understanding of money as it relates to our lives? The first step is examining what we think it is, and then moving forward from there.
- Talk about money -- Like sex, we never learned to talk about more than the mechanics of money. Consequently, we picked up messages, interpreted them ourselves and turned them into beliefs that run our financial lives. Talking more about money, and not less, not only enhances our understanding of it, but makes us more capable of controlling it instead of allowing it to control us. It's a fact that conflicts over money are the number one cause of divorce, and this phenomenon is driven by dysfunctional communication about money. We need to learn to communicate more freely about money in order to take control.
- Create a new money philosophy -- Money is not concrete or mechanical - it is a fluid force in our lives. Once we understand its role in our lives and how we view it, and we are able to talk about it, we can then begin to change it. Once we are able to see money as the slave and not the master, and work to realign our perspective on money and how our lives interact with it, we can begin setting and living by reasonable rules that put us in charge.
About Jane Honeck
Jane Honeck, CPA, specializes in tax and financial planning for professionals, small businesses and individuals. She is also a Certified Empowerment Trainer and has developed Cent$ible Living financial workshops and money coaching sessions to help her clients make meaningful and lasting change in their financial lives.