What Does Money Mean to You?
The acquisition of luxurious possessions, better clothes, a bigger house and expensive holidays is often seen as a marker of success, which can result in a vicious cycle to earn enough money to maintain such a salubrious, affluent lifestyle.
It costs a lot of money to appear successful!
Often, a divorce, redundancy or change to our personal circumstances can result in a major revision in our attitude towards money. Things that once seemed essential can soon be relegated to the ‘nice to have’ list.
If we’ve been in an unhappy situation, maybe in a thankless job, unsatisfying relationship or tedious personal circumstances, we may have used money as a sop, to give us comfort through mindless spending, even if those purchases rarely made us feel better for long.
How many of us would far rather receive a thoughtful homemade gift, a children’s painting, a partner’s collage of our special times together, a family photograph, a homemade cake, rather than an expensive, hastily purchased bottle of perfume from a department store! Similarly, buying something we’ve worked hard to pay for often means that we really value and appreciate it.
Money and reckless or careless spending can be symptomatic of unhappiness, where we buy things to compensate, soothe or appease ourselves. There may even be elements of revenge, where our motivation to spend is fuelled by the desire to make someone else pay for our perceived sacrifices or distress.
But regaining control of our lives and our finances can mean that we first have to unlearn bad habits and re-educate ourselves in readiness for the next stage of our lives. We have to perhaps dig deep, discover what money means to us and take the time to adapt and update how we treat it.
For many, the long period spent locked down brought with it the need to revise their approach to money and spending, either because they weren’t working and hence not earning or because there was nowhere they felt able to go and spend it. Yes, shopping online was exceptionally popular, but browsing along the high street stopped and then took a while to be reintroduced.
That locked-down time also introduced new priorities into our lives, reminding us that family, friends, time spent in nature, good health and investing love and care into our homes are all more important than expensive trophies and acquisitions.
At a time of readjustment or crisis, budgeting and taking our time can become important friends. Finding ways to adapt and revise our priorities, even temporarily, can be a positive decision. It might entail pressing pause and going home to parents, bunking with a friend or taking a house share for a time, so sourcing less expensive options, as well as gaining company and support if we’re feeling emotionally bereft.
One issue can be that when we’re stressed it can feel that major decisions need to be made immediately, but they often don’t require that degree of urgency. Slow down and tread water where you can, so that you’re able to eventually make the best decisions for you and those who are close to you.
Yes, money is important, but view it as a means of exchange, where you swop your skills and talents for the things you need to buy in order to live. You might be a brilliant baker and a friend needs some loaves, but if they’ve only got potatoes to trade and you don’t want potatoes, devising a method of payment using tokens, credits or money can facilitate the exchange, so leaving you with the means to ‘sell’ your loaves and obtain what you want somewhere else, thus both having a satisfactory outcome.
Many of us will have experience of trading in a money-free way too. We’ve probably at some point used a variation of, ‘if I help you decorate will you help me sort my garden?’, not ascribing a monetary value to the exchange. And indeed, many things are relative, aren’t they? I may love decorating and hate gardening and so attach more value to someone else’s input and help in the garden. Skill, expertise, time available, inclination, interest all factor into any task and can affect how much something is worth to us.
Of course, the nursery rhyme image of the king in his counting house counting out his money is distasteful to many. We require an income to fund our lifestyle, to buy the things we want and need (plus hopefully a few luxuries), but accumulating lots of extra noughts in the bank balance is often irrelevant to the happiness of our day-to-day lives.
Good people, rewarding work, a comfortable home are often key components in a satisfying life, and increasing numbers of people are taking pay cuts to introduce a better work/life balance. So long as we have sufficient and are able to appreciate what we do have, that can be enough to allow us to feel blessed.
Money gives us the freedom to make positive choices, to do things differently, to add value and meaning to life, to volunteer, travel, enjoy hobbies and interests. Plus, many people are happy to share some of their surplus time or hard-earned money and donate to charities and appeals, to help others in need. Finding a balance and being comfortable with enough is the key to a positive relationship with money.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist A.C.H.Qual, M.N.C.H.(Acc), M.S.M.S.(Acc), H.A.Reg. lifestyletherapy.net