Pre-pandemic, 52% of millennial women were already pointing to money issues as the most stressful thing in their lives.
Despite it being the least mentioned type of negative experience for Americans, more than one-in-five have mentioned economic difficulties resulting from the pandemic. In contrast, nearly 40% of Canadians are worrying more about their finances since COVID-19 began.
According to Scotiabank Economics’ commentary on the impact the recession has had on women, 42% reported worrying more than men (35%) about their finances for reasons such as having to drop out of the labor force due to lack of access to childcare.
While vaccines begin to make their way across both countries, we’re bound to see people from all groups grapple with their relationship with money more than ever before. All this, and still, nobody talks about their finances.
Your Relationship With Money: Here’s Why Financial Literacy Is Important
Discussing the topic of financial literacy became a passion of mine after a life-threatening car accident kept me away from work for nearly a year.
During my time in recovery (which has been an ongoing process), I realized how silly it was that money was still considered a “touchy” subject and how that belief holds so many people back from getting the help they need.
I was also forced to face my own attitudes toward money, the barriers I had, and the difficulty that comes with being honest about negative personal financial situations. My research helped me confirm that money is an unbelievably taboo topic to discuss freely, particularly for women.
But for anyone struggling with their relationship with money, especially during the pandemic, there’s a few things you can do to shift the dynamic once and for all.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of it has to do with your mindset, and thanks to the lessons I’ve learned from the guests on my podcast, $HMONEY Radio, I’m able to provide you with a few tips for making positive change.
Here Are 7 Simple and Mindful Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Money:
1. Analyze the Root Cause of Your Issues With Money
For me, a fear of math factored into some of the learning curves I had financially.
It’s easy to beat yourself up when you think about how you got yourself into a negative financial situation, but by analyzing what could have affected the outcome, you’ll end up with a more rational explanation of why you ended up there.
After completing this step, evaluating methods for moving forward (like seeking out the right advice) becomes easier.
2. Stop Believing That Money Is Strictly “Personal”
Similar to age, money has always been a forbidden topic. In fact, most millennial women are three times more likely to talk to their friends about their sex lives than their salaries.
If you grew up in a dual-income household where one parent made less than the other and questions about who played the role of the “breadwinner” were automatically shut down, there’s a good chance you settled on the idea that money was not an open conversation with your family.
Across the dinner table, there may be hushed whispers about so-and-so’s new car and how much they must make, but does anyone candidly share that information without awaiting judgement from their peers?
In 2021, it’s time to put money on the menu of conversation topics so that the floor is open to anyone who wants or needs to talk about it.
3. Start Thinking of Personal Finance as an Empowering Aspect of Life
This is something I learned from one of my first guests on my podcast, Silvi Woods, a Portfolio Manager and Senior Investment and Retirement Specialist at Wealthsimple.
Personal finance doesn’t have to be scary or something that you have to get perfect – because nobody does.
Learning how to manage and grow your finances can be motivation for eventually getting to where you want to be. Increased independence comes with that too.
4. Stop Being so Damn Serious
Sure, money is an important factor in being able to sustain life the way you like to live it, but it’s not everything. Don’t be so hard on yourself. A little self-deprecation never hurt anybody, and this is something I learned from my partner.
At the height of his career as a soccer player, he was also pursuing a job as a teacher. While he awaited a full-time position on the road, he could’ve stressed himself out about the amount of money he was making, but he decided to view his situation in a positive light: One day, it would come his way and he would be able to spend more freely.
Like all good things, making progress with your saving and spending habits takes time. As Silvi likes to say, you are so much more than a number. Which brings me to my next point.
5. Start Thinking of Your Paycheck as a Reward
Work is not always easy. If you’re learning to love what you do, or if you can learn to appreciate something about what you do at the moment, you’ll start to feel like you don’t have to depend on the numbers attached to your wage as much for motivation or fulfillment.
Thinking of your paycheck as a reward for the time, care, work, and/or creative input you’ve spent earning it helps shift your relationship with money.
If you’ve ever heard of the concept of money as energy, you already know that adjusting your mindset to view money as a multi-faceted resource (not just of monetary value), can allow you to evaluate the purpose of your work and the other ways it adds value to your life.
6. Stop Thinking You Have to “Restrict” Your Spending
It’s true that saving money doesn’t have to be the most oppressive thing you do. To continue your personal finance journey with good energy, start moving away from thoughts of having to restrict your spending and start thinking of how you can spend your money more mindfully.
Mindful investing is growing in popularity since millennials are increasingly aware of values like sustainability, leading them to research companies that they know they’re “investing in for good.”
So, follow the lead! Instead of placing harsh restrictions on your spending habits that you know you’ll break, start thinking of weekly necessities as investments too.
Through a mindful approach, you can make small, everyday adjustments that don’t feel as shocking but improve your financial situation in the end.
For example, instead of going through the Starbucks drive-thru before work everyday, seek out local roasters you might like to support and purchase a bag of coffee from a different one every few weeks.
Just like your daily Starbucks order, it offers the thrill of trying something new, but for less (and you get to support the little guys too!).
7. Make Your Money Work for You
It’s yours after all, isn’t it? You earned it, right? Exactly. No one should be able to tell you what to do with your money, and this is where I believe an understanding of financial literacy is critical when “adulting.”
Throughout my journey back to health, I consulted several professionals about my financial situation who offered “support” that seemed more beneficial for the bank than it did my accounts.
When you’re in a vulnerable place, a silver lining can be an easy sell. Do your research and make sure that whatever route you’re taking to optimize your finances, the benefits maximize for you.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance, so find the right advice, savings methods, apps, rates, systems, etc., that work for you and fit your lifestyle.
More importantly, deal with professionals that you feel comfortable with – people who will respect you and your situation.
The Takeaway on Your Relationship With Money
Like I mentioned in point number one, your learned experiences with money will influence how you approach shifting your relationship with it, but it’s a cycle that can be broken by adjusting your mindset and advocating for yourself.
If my experience over the past few years has taught me anything, it’s that you have the power to choose how you handle a negative situation, and that’s enough to know that you can determine your path forward.
Nonetheless, when the waters are choppy, breathe through the noise and keep moving forward.