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Has Your Relationship With Money Turned Toxic?

20/04/2016 10:35 AM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 9:59 PM AEST
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I'm not sure about you, but a lot of people I know don't have a great relationship with money. If anything, it's a toxic relationship, and if money was a bad boyfriend or girlfriend then we would quickly kick it to the curb.

Now I appreciate that's easier said than done. After all, you can spend a lifetime having a better relationship with food, and money can have an even bigger emotional pull.

The thing is, you actually can't have a relationship with money. It's an inanimate object and should simply be a helpful tool to help us live the life we want. But most of us don't see it that way and we've developed an unhealthy relationship that's turning, if we're completely honest, a little bit toxic. That's why I think we need to break up with money. It's not easy, but here are my top tips to help you do just that.

1. Do a financial detox

If you're going to break up with someone, you need space. You need to unfollow them on social media and start to separate from each other's lives. It's no different with money. In order to emotionally separate from money, start with a financial detox -- which is simply 30 days of buying nothing new or non-essential. And no, shoes are not essential.

2. Understand how you're spending

If you're in a bad relationship, you need to face what's going on. It's the same with money. After your financial detox, track your spending using one of the many cloud-based solutions available (a simple free tool is on the Money Smart website) so you can clearly see where your money is going.

3. Work out your goals

At some point, a couple will discuss where their relationship is heading. In order to start viewing money as simply a tool, it's important to work out what your goals are in life. I appreciate it's tougher to look any further than three years ahead, but I think three-year and 12-month goals are essential.

4. Understand your values

In order to transfer your feelings from money onto something really worthwhile, make a list of what you value in life. Maybe it's freedom, family, security, significance or loyalty. Once you've worked out your values, then take a look at your goals and work out if they fit with your values. If they don't, make adjusts until they do.

5. Work out a plan

Sometimes goals and values seem so far removed from our current day that it's easier to buy a cocktail and continue as you are. Instead, work out how much money it would take to reach that plan and how long it would take. So, if your goal means you need $10,000 in 12 months' time, you'll need to save $200 per week. It's a way of turning money into the 'pool boy' and realising it's simply hired help rather than something you should be having a relationship with.

6. Start to become a conscious consumer

Working out a plan is great, but unless you're monitoring how you're going, it's too easy to go off-track. Take time every month to check how you're going, see if you're on track and make any necessary adjustments. In the same way as it is easier to lose a cheeky kilo than 20 kilos, jumping on the scale with your money regularly will help you keep a tight rein on it.

7. Remove yourself from temptation

I don't have chocolate in my house because I have absolutely no willpower. Sure, I could purposely keep it in the house if I decide I want to get tougher, but I'd be beating myself up daily because I know I'd eat it. It's the same with money. Remove the temptation rather than waving a big stick at yourself.

8. Seek help from a relationship counsellor (or, in this case, a money expert)

Sometimes relationships just end up toxic and messy and we can't extract ourselves. It can be the same with money. You might have a go at all of the above and it just doesn't work for you, or you might know yourself enough to know you need help from the start. So seek out great advisers who can help you break up with money and will stay in your corner as your cheerleader and coach until you do.

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