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How to Redefine Your Relationship with Money

How to Redefine Your Relationship with Money

As a grown-up, mature and wise 20-something, you continue to refine and redefine your relationship with yourself, your family and friends. You know exactly who you get along with, what makes you happy, why you do the things you do and so on. However, when it comes to money, you may have adopted the "more the merrier" approach. It’s almost like a relationship that’s taken for granted. The more it can provide for you, the more your wants stack up. Career progression leads to heavy wallets and huge bank accounts, but it rarely allows you to think "how much is enough."

In almost every aspect of life, the point of maximum enjoyment is not the point of maximum spending. Based on the classic money book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, the Fulfillment Curve shows the relationship between spending and happiness. Up to a point, increased spending brings increased well-being and contentment. Too much spending, however, leads to overconsumption and extravagance and this is where fulfillment starts to decrease. If you don’t stop and ask yourself ‘how much is enough’, where is your financial plateau, then you will continue to accumulate clutter.

If you are working a grueling job to earn a little extra money yet you are not happier for it, WHY are you doing it? Is it paying for your survival or just buying you clutter? When I took the time to ponder over my relationship with money, I realized that beyond wanting a comfortable life with necessities met, some luxuries such as travelling to new places at least once a year and having some spare funds for entertainment and eat outs, I don’t need more. That got me to think why am I in the rat race of trying to make more money when this incremental money is not leading to any incremental happiness.

[Related: 5 Signs You Need a Money Cleanse]

So, where do you draw the line? Who defines what is comfort and what is luxury? Is there a money police to tell you what is regular consumption and what is over consumption? Your challenge is to discover your own peak because "enough" is a different place for everybody. You are your own police, you set the rules in your life and you assess your priorities. The key is to take the time out to step back and reflect on your relationship with money. Everyone would have a different relationship based on their own personal needs, wants and spending patterns. Some people would feel fulfilled in very little while for some who really value money and spending, even a lot won’t be enough.

Here are 3 actionable steps to redefine your relationship with money:

1. Step back to re-calibrate your needs and wants.

Do you know when does your fulfillment curve peak and how much spending is associated with it? Last weekend was incredibly memorable for me. We spent a lot of time together as a family, went to the beach in the morning, followed by a free art exhibition, enjoyed cooking at home and having friends over and then went for a walk later in the evening. How much money was spent in creating these memories? Very little. Where was I on my fulfillment curve? You guessed it already.

Identifying the essentials of good financial hygiene is an apt place to start. Conduct the calibration with a clean slate, zero-based approach:

  • Survival: What are the basic necessities you need for survival? Things without which your life cannot function. (food, shelter, clothes, utilities etc.)
  • Comforts: What are some of the amenities that would make life more comfortable? (functional car, toys, comfortable shoes, house help, furniture etc.)
  • Luxuries: What are a few extra treats you would really like to indulge in that would make life more enjoyable? (lavish eat outs, fancy phone, swanky car, traveling and so on.

Try plotting your needs and wants along the fulfillment curve to get a better picture.

[Related: Decide How You'll Measure Your Riches]

2. Put a price tag on all your expenses.

Take stock of how much your new, redefined buckets of survival, comfort and luxury cost. Is there still a particular one where you are spending more? How much of it is typically spent by cash vs. credit? Is it affordable? Is there room for further tweaks? If you feel guilty about your expenditure in any area, you’re likely spending more than needed.

3. Draw the "enough" line along the curve.

At what point along your luxury curve do you feel you can draw the "enough" line? Enough is a powerful and empowering place; the launching point for fostering the life that money can't buy. When we pursue the journey of financial freedom, our focus of interest expands as we learn to look beyond ourselves and seek to address the comforts of others in need. Know that your fulfillment definition and peak will evolve and shift with time. Continue recalibrating every now and then.

So, next time you say to yourself, "If I just had more money, my life would be so much easier," think about your fulfillment curve. Think about your renewed relationship with money; one where the boundaries are clearly defined, one where you have influence and leverage, one where you feel more in control. Once you figure out the right place money resides in your life, you will find that your life will become much more satisfying. Your redefined outlook on money will become automatic over time and create your reality.

This article previously appeared on Direction Dose.

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Samia Hasan helps millennials to know who they really are, not what they need to be. She is the founder of Direction Dose - Career and Business coaching for millennials. She’s an ICF certified career coach, NLP Practitioner, trainer and speaker, based in Dubai. Having over 9 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in brand management and coaching, Samia knows what it takes for Gen Y to excel and succeed in their careers. You can reach her at samia@directiondose.com for a free session.


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