Money means different things to different people.
Perhaps you associate it with security for your family, or a way to enjoy the good things in life. Unfortunately, for many people money is a source of fear, stress and constant anxiety. If this sounds familiar, you might be in a toxic relationship with money that’s causing problems for you and those around you.
Your relationship with your finances could be in unhealthy territory if:
You’re an emotional shopper
Ever had a tough day and felt the need to cheer yourself up with a new pair of shoes? How about a great day where you accomplished something fabulous and felt you deserved a shopping spree as a reward? While occasionally treating yourself is perfectly fine, anything that becomes part of an emotional cycle has the potential to become
problematic. If you find yourself turning to the shops every time you feel down, bored, lonely or even happy, it’s time to break the cycle.
Andrea Woroch, consumer finance expert, says the first step to solving this problem is to identify the triggers. Second is finding other ways to deal with them. For example, if you were promoted at work and want to reward yourself, think about how a big spend now will negatively affect you in the future. Instead, find a non monetary way to celebrate your success – some pamper time at home, perhaps, or some much-needed chill time to relax and read or watch a good movie.
You’re a secretive shopper
While you may shrug it off as a little white lie, hiding purchases from your partner is a form of financial infidelity. Ask yourself why you feel the need to hide them. It’s usually a sign that, deep down, you know your spending has become a problem. This has the potential to cause a rift in your relationship and encourages feelings of mistrust, guilt and resentment.
Andrea recommends you and your partner come up with a shared financial goal, like saving for a holiday or a big purchase for your home. She suggests setting spending limits and agreeing to review purchases over a certain amount together.
You ignore red flags
Bills are piling up and you’ve had more than one notice saying they’re past due, and yet you continue to ignore them. This kind of unhelpful denial only makes life more difficult in the long run, and you can’t avoid responsibility forever.
Andrea advises organising your debts, credit card and store card payments and their respective interest rates on a spreadsheet. This way, you’ll be able to see the state of your finances and identify the most problematic areas. Next, make a plan to start paying them off – try focusing on paying off the debts with the smallest balance first. If you’re more concerned about saving money on interest, focus on debts with the highest rates first.
You don’t say ‘no’ enough
You don’t want to miss out or disrupt your social life. Group holidays? Of course you need to go! Big nights out? How could you miss them? Lunches and coffee dates and cocktails – you need them, to catch up with friends!
The unfortunate reality is you can’t afford this lifestyle – you need to start saying no. Plan a reasonable budget
for socialising and be picky about the events you attend. You can also suggest meeting friends at home instead of
going out. You’re probably not the only person in your group of friends who should be spending less, so you
might find they follow your example with a sigh of relief.
COMPILED BY CAITLIN GENG PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM