When we think of relationships, we often think of our interactions with other people. Our life experiences teach us that relationships with people can be healthy or toxic based on a number of factors. However, how many of us consider whether our relationship with money can be the same?
In a 2018 survey, a little over half of respondents said they strongly believed their spouse or partner was honest with them about money. Arguing about money early in a relationship has been found to be the No. 1 predictor of whether a couple gets divorced.
So why is having a good relationship with money important? Financial wellness is an important part of our overall well-being. Financial wellness includes having a healthy relationship with money that makes us feel satisfied and not overly stressed out. A 2015 report showed that money is the leading cause of stress for adults.
So how is our relationship with money formed? It’s formed by our observations and the messaging we see and hear related to money. According to a PBS report, children can understand basic concepts about money as early as age 3, and by 7, their values around money are already set. Our early experiences with money, such as witnessing arguments about it or being defined by it, can trigger a range of emotions such as anxiety, resentment or feelings of elitism that we carry through life. Those experiences and emotions shape our values and relationship with money.
Based on our values, money can make us feel secure as we provide for ourselves and others we care for. Our joy may come from the sacrifices we make with money. Money can also make us feel insecure if we do not have the things we want. We can view it negatively, as it may encourage envy and corruption. It can also position us to be overly socially competitive by attempting to “Keep up with the Joneses.”