How much is enough? It’s a good question. Our relationship with our finances can be a tricky one. Everyone has a different idea of how much it takes to be comfortable or even well off.
Given it is something that has such a strong influence on how we live our lives it’s unsurprising that money, or the pursuit of it, can develop into somewhat of an addiction.
The million-dollar question is how do you know if you are developing an unhealthy relationship with money and what can you do if you, or someone you know, is heading down that path?
The love of the dollar
When John D. Rockefeller, who has been widely considered the wealthiest American in modern history, was asked how much money is enough, he famously stated: “Just a little bit more.”
It’s a common approach to money – that it’s not possible to have too much of a good thing. However, we can become addicted to the act of growing our net wealth to the detriment of our daily lives. If you’re only interested in seeing your account balance go up, you might miss opportunities to put your money to work in other ways and enjoying what life has to offer.
If you can relate to the words of Rockefeller, it might be time to do some self-examination and see whether your relationship with your finances could be healthier.
Common feelings about acquiring money
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is embedded in our culture. As a society, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to those who earn more or are wealthier than ourselves. The danger is there will always be someone better off than you (unless you are Rockefeller!). Gratitude can serve as an antidote to competition, so try shifting your focus to what you have rather than what others possess.
Of course, for many the focus is not outward but inward. The competition can be an internal struggle to meet and exceed continually shifting self-imposed financial objectives. If this is moving beyond a healthy drive for success, it might be time to celebrate your successes and focus more on enjoying your wealth.
You are what you possess
Compulsive saving can be a need to find self-worth, defining yourself by what you possess and accruing the trappings of wealth to feel whole. Recognising your self-worth goes beyond possessions and how much money you have in the bank is a key step in breaking the hold money may have over you.
Fear of loss
Being afraid of losses can keep you from making smart decisions with your money that could improve your financial situation. For example, you might be so fixated on accruing wealth and so afraid of losing money that you never invest. Having an appreciation of the relationship between risk and reward can help you make healthier decisions.
An extreme focus on your financials can be driven by a fear of not having enough. The underlying cause of anxiety around money might be traced back to a time when you struggled. The key is to review your financial situation and let go the past to manage your finances in a way that is appropriate to your present circumstances.
Breaking money habits
That sounds easy but it can be difficult in practice. Whatever the driver of your approach to money, if you’ve been operating in a certain way for a long time, habits can be hard to break.
If you’ve been saving furiously for a home deposit it can be hard to step out of the frugal behaviour, take a breather and feel Ok about spending money again. Alternatively, if you’ve spent a lifetime building your wealth to have a wonderful retirement it can be difficult to flick the switch from saving to spending – especially if you suddenly have no wages coming in.
Recognise that old habits can be hard to break but that it is possible to change.
One thing that can help is having a financial plan, so you know how you are tracking to meet your financial goals. That’s where talking to a third party who is not so emotionally involved can be of benefit.
We are here to assist if you need assistance with any aspect of your financial life.