A client's conversation with their money: "Many things to many people."Aug 08, 2023
Have you ever had a conversation with your money? Yes, that's right a conversation with your money. It is highly likely you have not, but this conversation with money has many benefits including increased self-awareness and compassion, increased understanding of your relationship with money, and the chance to view your relationship with clarity, purpose, and objectivity. Recently, I had a client who was navigating his relationship with money and wanted to share their dialogue. It is transcribed below.
A conversation with money
Money: “That is not easy to explain because I mean something and am something different to everyone. My relationship is like a spiritual one in that it is unique to the individual. What I think you are asking is who am I to you, is that correct?”
Me: “Yes. I have no idea who you are to me. Are you a friend or an enemy? Are you an amoral presence in my life? Should I avoid you, embrace you, or be apathetic towards you? It is hard for me to build a trusting relationship with someone I do not know, so let’s start with your name. What should I call you?”
Money: “I am a friend. I am a resource that is a manifestation of your values. How we interact illustrates what you prioritize. If you spend me on a loved one, do you feel joy or resentment? Does it feel like a cost or an investment? How true you are to yourself will dictate how truthful our relationship is. I go by many names. What names for me best suits you?”
Me: “Money works. When you asked how it feels to spend money on a loved one, I immediately felt a sense of joy. I thought of taking my kids to an amusement park or paying for my daughter to take gymnastics. I personally do not enjoy amusement parks or rearranging my schedule to get my daughter to her competitions. However, I enjoy watching my children happy and hearing their joyful sounds when they play. I realize that you help make that a reality. I agree you are my friend. You help me live my values. Thank you.”
Money: “You’re welcome. So where do we go from here?”
Me: “Wherever we go we go together. As friends, we support one another. You have already helped me experience some of the most joyous moments of my life, and I in turn will help others, specifically my family, learn how to interact with you so they too can experience joy from a relationship with you. I guess what I am saying is that I will introduce you to more people and help you make more friends. One can never have too many friends.”
Money: “That’s interesting. I have never had anyone who wanted to help me make friends.”
Me: “I think that is because you are hard to understand for some. Like you said, you are many things to many people, and if they don’t spend time with you, getting to know you, then they never develop enough trust and understanding for you to be friends.”
Money: “Alright. I am interested to see where this goes. How can we develop a better friendship.”
Me: “Too easy. We spend time together listening and understanding one another. We see how we make each other feel in different situations and see how we can show up for one another to make this life easier. Life is like working out. The weights in the gym are like challenges in life. They are heavy, cause pain and help you grow. A friend is like the spotter who helps you lift more weight and grow in ways you could never grow by yourself. Let’s make sure we are always spot for each other making it possible for us to deal with more of life’s challenges and grow from them.”
Money: “I like that. I can do that.”
Me: “Bet. Until next time.”
Money: "Until next time.”
What others would say about my conversation with money
The client then described what they thought the important people in their life would say about their conversation with money.
“That was interesting. I overheard you talking to Money, and I was surprised you did not know money better. I thought I did a better job of teaching you about money when you were growing up.”
“I never really knew money myself. My pops was always on with the Navy and my mom was into her shit, so I was pretty much solo to learn about money. Money was never really a priority because our family always judge each other on how good we looked and how many sexual partners we had, so money never really became a priority.”
“I am happy to hear you taking the time to build a friendship with Money. For years you had an adversarial relationship with Money because of your parents. I am glad you are open to creating your own relationship with money and breaking away from the relationship that was handed to you.”
“Money is something I have created. It is a resource for you to live a fulfilling life, and you are a resource for it to help others. Money will be a mirror for you. Look at how you interact with it, and you will see what you value most in the moment.”
Client's Key Takeaways
"I was surprised by the direction the conversation took. I value my friendships above all else. I gain more support from my friends than my family, and I rely heavily on my friends in life. To consider money a friend is not something I ever imagined before this exercise. I began the exercise not really understanding what money is or what it means to me. I always thought I view money as something I used versus something I actually interact with. I don't know what this means for me, but I am excited and happy about being able to have a friendship with money and show others that they can too."
How to write your own conversation with money
Take some time by yourself to brainstorm about what comes up for you in relation to your money.
Here are some brainstorming prompts:
What is money to you?
What does it represent in your life?
How has it treated you or how have you treated it?
Write out what you would say or ask of your money. Then, write out what your money would say to you.
Now that your conversation is in place, think about the important people in your life overhearing your conversation with money. Consider what their perspective would be. Write it out.
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán
Questions: email [email protected]
Mariah Hudler, MSW, MBA, CFT-I™ is a financial therapist, coach & consultant, who provides premarital financial counseling, financial therapy, financial coaching & consulting, and financial wellbeing services. She works with individuals, couples, entrepreneurs, and groups to build their balance and create a healthy relationship with money.
Disclaimer: This blog is for education only. Please consult with a qualified professional when you have any questions about your personal financial, tax, or legal situation. Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional advice.
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