The way in which we respond and react to events that unfold in our daily lives are often the result of our past experiences. This is especially true when it comes to money. Whether you grew up in an affluent household, you grew up in a home where having food on the table was not a foregone conclusion or you grew up in a home somewhere in between, it is likely that the way you think about money today is influenced by some of these first experiences.
Some have very negative feelings about money. They do not like to talk about anything financial and they do everything they can to avoid decisions related to money. They do not want to take responsibility for financial matters.
Some believe money is the end-all and be-all. If they have money, they will be happy and all of their problems will be solved.
Some believe that the amount of money one has is a direct reflection of their worth as a human being. If you have a lot of money, you are successful. For these people, it is all about keeping up with the Joneses.
And yet others are very cautious and watchful when it comes to their money. They tend to be big savers and avoid debt at all costs.
We are all on this quest for financial freedom – being in a position where we can spend our time doing what makes us happy with those who make us happy. We usually associate the concept with being able to pursue our passions without being limited by monetary constraints. But financial freedom is also an emotional concept. You see, even if you have enough money in the bank, if you do not have a healthy emotional relationship with money, you will never be financially free.
I remember as a child going out to dinner with my grandfather, a man who grew up during the Depression, a man whose father died when he was just 12 years old, a man who had to begin providing for his family at that young age. Eventually, he went on to marry and have three children of his own. He built a very successful business, gave his children every opportunity, lived in a beautiful upper-middle class community and belonged to the local country club. And still, when he was in his mid-60s and comfortably retired, he would take my brother and sister and I to his favorite deli for dinner and tell us to order whatever we wanted. He would never order anything – he would munch on the free pickles that were staples on the tables. He couldn’t enjoy going to a restaurant. He worried about every last penny. The little boy who grew up during the Depression was still a part of his psyche.
So as you partake in this quest for financial freedom, while it is important to focus on the numbers, you cannot neglect to reflect on your past financial experiences and understand how those experiences frame your relationship with money today. When you understand where your feelings come from, you can begin to understand why you react to financial matters as you do. And once you do this, you will truly understand that money is nothing more than a tool that can provide you with opportunity. And that is quite a liberating realization.