The wedding tradition of the anniversary dance brings married couples to the dance floor and asks them to depart in the order of how many years they’ve been wed. The newest couples sashay out first until the longest-married couple remains – together for 20, 30, 40, even 50 (or more) years!
How did these couples build long-lasting, healthy relationships? Most storied couples credit these similar habits: paying attention, date nights, clear communication, expressing gratitude and committing to the long game.
In a way, their love offers a blueprint for many kinds of relationships, including building a healthy relationship with money. Folks seeking to forge a long-term positive connection with their finances should follow the fundamentals that have carried so many long-lasting couples through the ages.
1. Pay attention
Don’t ignore your finances. Financial problems don’t go away over time; they worsen, they fester and then they come back to bite you. Instead, pay attention to your financial habits. Take time to notice unhealthy patterns, like impulse shopping when you’re down or eating out when you’re stressed. Use free online tracking and analysis tools or keep a good old fashioned spending diary in a spreadsheet or booklet. This way you can see all of your spending in one spot and identify problems by looking at the hard data.
2. Have regular dates
Yes, with your money. Even though life is busy, you carve out time for your important relationships. Why should your relationship with money be any different? Commit to looking at your finances for half an hour once a week. This regular check in will help you stay accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself.
3. Have a DTR
You need to have a “defining the relationship” talk. Remind yourself that, in this relationship, you must be in control of your money, not the other way around. Money is there to bring security, not control or define you. By paying off debt, building your savings and living within your means, you are paving your path to financial freedom. But if you let money control you and define your worth, you will never be satisfied. Our society sometimes worships money and can value individuals based on their assets. We must decouple our self worth from this paradigm. Instead, seek fulfillment in forging deep relationships with family and friends, give back to the community, cultivate your inner life, live out your passions and calling and fill the world with your love and creativity.
4. Don’t compare. Express gratitude.
Quit the comparison game. You will never win because you’ll always be able to think of someone with more. Set your sights on personal goals that will lift your financial burdens and give you more freedom to pursue the things you care most about in life. Focus on your growth over time and celebrate your achievements. Regularly express gratitude for all that you already have. Research shows that this simple practice can generate a bounty of physical, psychological and social benefits.
5. Commit for life
Play the long game and commit to a lifetime of financial learning. All relationships are a journey, and it’s no different with money. As you age through various life stages, you will face different obstacles and be pushed to adjust your financial habits accordingly. Prepare for these changes by proactively educating yourself before you, say, have kids, buy your first house, change careers, or retire.
It’s crucial that you develop a healthy relationship with your money. By following these principles, you can take control of your finances and pave a way toward security, contentedness and freedom.
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