Your Relationship With Money: Friend Or Foe

Your Relationship With Money: Friend Or Foe

Rather listen? Give me 5 little minutes …

Relationship With Money

We throw the word “money” around with very little thought.

And that could be costing you big time.

As we go into this next year, it’s more important than ever to get a real close (in fact “intimate”) relationship with your money.  Not something you keep at arm’s length.  But instead, something that, if you personified it, you could have sitting across the table from you, sharing a cup of tea or a cold beer.  A friend, an ally, someone who has your back.

Okay, that may sound crazy.  But I can’t think of another way to get you to understand that you can’t be financially free or secure if you think of money as your enemy.  Or if you ignore it like that unused workout equipment that’s sitting hidden in your garage.

So I’d like you to take a little time to think through the questions I’m going to ask about different associations we all have with money.  If you answer honestly, you’ll soon know where the sticking points are in how you relate to your money.  And where you might want to do some work so you have a fighting chance to make 2012 a positive year rather than one where you tread water or, worse yet, fall further behind.

Security:  Did your family have trouble meeting its bills and did it ever make you feel insecure about your home life?  Or did you know you’d always be safe, no matter what?  Can you cover all your bills comfortably today?  Do you save for a rainy day?  Looking way forward, how much thought have you given to how you’re going to actually pay for all the years you’ll be retired, whether by choice or forcefully?  Have you done any calculations?  Do you have a plan in place?  Are you following that plan?  Or are you ignoring the topic altogether?

Freedom:  How do you define being “financially free?”  What does it mean to you?  Do you avoid the question because you feel trapped in the lifestyle and debt you’re carrying today?  Do you have a clear vision of what “financially free” looks and feels like?  Do you know what that will cost?  Have you put together a plan of how you’re going to get there?

Love:  What are your money expectations when you enter into (or stay in) a personal relationship?  Does love conquer all in a relationship?  Or does money have the power to make or break one?  Are you still waiting to be rescued?  Did you ever equate whether your parents spent money on you with whether or not they loved you?  Did your family have a lot of money and you often wondered if your friends liked you or liked all the nice things you had?

Acceptance:  Do you compare yourself with others around you and feel they judge you in any way?  Do you remember ever being teased at school because of where you lived or how you dressed?  Or do you worry that if you make too much money you’ll no longer by loved and liked by your family and friends?  Or do you feel you need to earn a lot of money for people to think highly of you?

Control:  Did either of your parents give you money or withhold things from you to get you to behave in a certain way?  Have you had boyfriends or a husband who used money to control you?  Have you ever hidden some spending from a partner because you were afraid of the consequences?  Have you ever used money to control your children, including paying their bills in order to keep them close?

Power:  Did your parents argue about money and did you feel the one who lost the argument was the weaker of the two?  Do you open and review all bills and statements?  Or do you relinquish your power to the fear that comes from not knowing where you stand?  Do you feel driven to amass large amounts of money in order to feel powerful?

Status:  Do you purchase things because of what others will think of you if you have them?  Do you drive a car you can’t really afford?  Do you live in a house that’s in keeping with your present income and circumstances, or does it drain a disproportionate amount of your income?

One thing you should know:  there are no right or wrong answers.  Any behaviors that we’re not proud of typically result from how we were raised and what we were taught … or not taught.

So just take note of where you got a little twinge of discomfort as you answered.  Know that it’s a place where your relationship with money is less than direct or clear.  Examine it.  Question where it might have come from.  Change it.

We’re all masters of our own destiny, you know.

Money has no innate power of its own.  But it can either be something you have a healthy use for … or it can act as a roadblock because of the emotional energy you have imbued it with.

It’s entirely up to you.


Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sharon, great article. I’ve done a great deal of work on my relationship with money and it really did come from the most bizarre places! Clearing it and realising that we don’t have to follow the patterns we were taught was massive! Although I prefer to use the term financial security rather than financially free. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      We each have different triggers, reactions and expectations.  So whether the term that “moves” you is financial security, financially free or something else, what counts is that you’ve honored the concept by addressing it … as you know. 😉

  • Wow, I have a lot to think about. I’m looking forward to sitting down with my husband and answering these questions together. Also as a woman just entering the business world this is great for me to have in mind as I begin to add more to our finances. Thanks so much.

    • Anonymous

      Sarah, this is a listing of the most common questions that come up with my clients.  I thought by keeping it casual, it might make it easier to do exactly what you mentioned:  sitting down with yourself and/or your life partner and opening a conversation.  Good luck in your foray into the business world.  From your attitude, you’re starting on a solid foundation!

  • The thoughts and beliefs we absorbed in our childhoods about money (like most everything else) will clearly impact our financial situations today. Your questions are an excellent tool to give us the insight to become clear and make the necessary positive changes. The most important thing I find in dealing with parenting issues and removing limiting beliefs is while examining and determining the belief pattern from childhood is to ask yourself if your belief is really true. Often this helps remove the belief. Excellent article and insights as always Sharon!

    • Anonymous

      As you well know from the work you do with parents and children, Denny, so much of what’s embedded comes from what is misunderstood or misinterpreted when kids are too young to have the critical thinking of the fully formed conscious brain.  So it’s accepted as truth … until confronted and discarded.

  • I’ve have had many talks with money across the kitchen table. Money said “it’ is not credit card or borrowed money. Money is what I have in hand and my ability to ‘attract’ and keep ‘it’. During an emergency…’borrowed friends’ may not come to the rescue…same goes with money. Money takes time and consistent effort to maintain just like friends. Oh wow…I can go on. Great Post Sharon.

    • Anonymous

      The best part, Claudia, is that I know you’re sharing what you’ve figured out with your kids … so at least in your family the next generation won’t have the same obstacles so many of us have had.  Bravo!

  • I love the metaphor: If you personified money, you could have it sitting across the table from you and share a cup of tea. In fact, it is that kind of calm mindset and ‘let’s listen and talk squarely’ focus that will be so useful to me in the coming year, as I have fretted and sweated over money for a long time. One of my Big Hairy Audacious Goals this year is to figure out how to get paid what I’m worth, and then how to squirrel it away so my husband doesn’t pursue a lifestyle at the expense of a sense of security. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like some gremlins over “deserving,” Diane.  Those are gremlins which virtually all of us have to some degree.  But it’s the degree that determines how detrimental they are in our everyday lives.  Take a look at this article on repelling money from this time last year:  There might be a few hints in there …

  • Hi Sharon…Thank you for sharing this excellent article on ‘money’! …Hughie

    • Anonymous

      You’re very welcome, Hughie!

  • Nice post Sharon!  I like the idea of reading through this and seeing where you get a “twinge” of discomfort.  Thanks for the thought provoking article.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Robert.  We all know ourselves better than we think … but sometimes just don’t know what questions to ask …

  • Cat

    Not only does thinking of money as the enemy NOT contribute to financial security, but IGNORING money detracts from financial security as well. Keeping an eye on money, and respecting its power is what helps contribute to financial security. Thanks  Sharon!

    • Anonymous

      Good healthy thinking, Cat! 

  • I had a lot of imprinted ideas that to be wealthy was not a spiritual state of being. It took me a lot of personal clearing work and ceremony to move past that.
    So happy to see you bring out this thoughful article. I hope lots of women get to read it!

    • Anonymous

      MarVeena, congratulations on working through the clearing process … isn’t it glorious to get beyond it?  Having gone through a similar process — even if for different imprints, or gremlins — my goal is to share the information with as many women as I can.  Hope you’ll help spread the word!

  • Lori

    Thanks so much Sharon! This is full of great questions that really make you think!

    • Anonymous

      Glad it will serve you, Lori!

  • Love these questions to ponder!  What a great activity to do with your spouse as you work out the financial goals you have as a family! 

    • Anonymous

      What’s even more powerful, Jennifer, is to go through the questions individually … and THEN sit down with your spouse so you understand one another perfectly.  That’s true “financial intimacy!”  Then as you work out your financial goals together, you know both are truly on board …

  • Lots of questions… lots to think about… but all so important! I could see how this could be useful for everybody at any stage of life and a great tool for newly married (or engaged) couples to do individually & then as a couple. Thanks for sharing!  

    • These really are questions that we can revisit again and again over the years, Jandi, because they keep our mindset clear.  That personal honesty is SO important!  It’s not a matter of having to be perfect, only of knowing who we are and what we might decide we want to change, if anything.

  • Susan Myers

    Thanks for giving me the permission I need to unblock unhealthy thoughts about money….”Money has no innate power of its own.  But it can either be something you have a healthy use for … or it can act as a roadblock because of the emotional energy you have imbued it with. It’s entirely up to you.”

    • Susan, I did an assessment recently of what my clients most cherish about our work together, and we identified two things: permission and accountability.  (Interesting that you landed on one!)  The consensus is that (1) I give her permission to “individualize” situations (that is, take situations away from the “they” and show her how to factor into the solution how SHE truly feels) and (2) I hold her accountable for the changes she commits to make.  In short, that’s called personal responsibility!  😉

  • Lisa Dorey

    Hi Sharon.  What a great article.  You have covered so many points so succinctly!  I think Money brings such a powerful dynamic into any relationship.  I journal with Money regularly and we’ve had some great conversations.  Its great to see you’ve met him too!  I think more people need to stop fearing him and start to have a more open and relaxed relationship with Money.

    • I love your humanization of Money, Lisa!  Yep, we had a real dysfunctional relationship for years, with Money coming and going, until he left “for good.”  Tons of head work later, on my part, now we have a healthy relationship:  we’re friends “with benefits!”  😉

  • Shahina Lakhani

    Hey Sharon, A wonderful and insightful article. You ask some deep questions and raise issues not too may people take the time to think about. Yet these are the very beliefs and behaviors that define our relationship with money. Thanks for an awesome article.

    • Thanks, Shahina, for the kind words.  Most of us weren’t raised to ask these types of questions.  Yet if we can get answers it can make such a major difference in our lives.  No blame, no fault, no foul.  Just the right to clear things up and move on … and up!

  • I did feel some twinges and found myself answering for my husband, too. Looking at it from a third party’s view we are miles apart, hmmm. How does one separate reality from dreams and goals while working through the plan of becoming debt free? That is where I find I’m unable to get clarity. Great article and I appreciate the non-judgmental tone and guidance you provide…oh if only we were sitting side by side or across the table sipping that beer and talking one on one…

    • Anonymous

      Okay, Carla, pretend we just each popped open a cold one.  You and your husband INDIVIDUALLY have to be able to go through, find the “twinges” and figure out how they’re affecting your individual journeys.  Start releasing whatever obstacles are popping up.  It’s external stuff you internalized, but it’s not yours.  Get rid of it.  (Be patient with yourselves and with each other.  Nothing’s done overnight.)  If you try doing this alone, you’re shouldering more than any one person can shoulder.  As for separating reality from dreams and goals?  Reality’s real simple: today’s honest numbers.  Goals are harder to quantify, so take small steps.  Where do you both want to be at the end of 2012?  What will it take to get there?  Chunk it down.  And then do what it takes … and hold one another accountable.

  • It was interesting to note where the “twinge of discomfort” made it’s self known. I appreciate your insights.  Thanks for your gentle guidance and understanding on a subject that isn’t easy for many of us to look at squarely.  

    • Anonymous

      Vicky, trust me, it was just as difficult for me to look at when I
      started.  But, from this side, it’s a piece of cake.  And SO worth the
      journey!   😉

  • Joseann Freyer-Lindner

    Wow, this post really got me thinking. Thank you so much for your clarity. I found something very interesting: financially free for me is “to be free of the judgement that is attached to money”. I see money as a visible expression of the judgement/evaluation other people attach to what I do or who I am. They are evaluating the “usefulness” and “degree of deserving” of my acts and existence for them. So I refuse money because I refuse to be judged and “evaluated” by other people. For me, by means of money people exude a subtle manipulative force to bend me according to their expectations. In the presence of money I feel a constant nudge to be how others want me to be. I don’t feel free to be who I am, do my best and do what I love doing. I also found that I consider “to be paid” as an act of devaluation in itself as it creates a distance between me and others. It puts me on a level of “usefulness”. I would much rather be loved than paid. Being paid equals “not being deserving of love”, it’s a relief for others to pay me, so they don’t have to deal with me as a whole, only with that part that is useful to them. It’s humiliating. Not sure what to do with this now…