Dollars and Sense: Can You Improve Your Relationship with Money?

Jeff LeFave

In your life, you will have all sorts of relationships – with your family, your friends, your co-workers, and even with civic groups and charitable organizations you support. But have you ever considered another key relationship – the one you have with money?

Of course, this type of relationship has several aspects, such as saving, spending, and investing. And your fellow Americans clearly face some challenges in these areas. For example, in a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones, only 21% of respondents reported that they feel happy when thinking about saving money, while 92% said they see room for improvement in their financial health. Yet only one in four plans to improve their spending habits. Furthermore, just 26% said retirement was a top savings priority.

If you share some of these concerns, what should you do? Here are a few suggestions:

• Identify your money-related emotions. Try to recognize the emotions you feel in connection with saving and investing. Do you get nervous about spending? Does putting away money for the future give you satisfaction or not? Do you worry that you don’t know how much you should be investing, or whether you’re investing in the right way? Clearly, these types of questions can cause some anxiety and, even more importantly, they may lead you to make poor decisions. Emotions are obviously closely tied to money, but they really should not play a big role in your spending, saving, and investing choices.

• Develop a financial strategy. By developing a sound financial strategy, you can reduce money-related stress and help yourself feel empowered as you look to the future. A comprehensive strategy can help you identify your goals – a down payment on a new home, college for your children, a comfortable retirement, and so on – and identify a path toward reaching them. Your financial strategy should incorporate a variety of factors, including your age, risk tolerance, income level, family situation, and more. Here’s the key point, by creating a long-term strategy and sticking to it, you’ll be far less likely to overreact to events, such as market downturns, and less inclined to give in to impulses such as “spur of the moment” costly purchases. And without such a strategy, you will almost certainly have less chance of achieving your important goals.

• Get an “accountability partner.” Your relationship with money doesn’t have to be monogamous – you can get help from an “accountability partner.” Too many people keep their financial concerns and plans to themselves, not even sharing them with their partners or other family members. But by being open about your finances to your loved ones, you can not only avoid misplaced expectations but also enlist the help of someone who may be able to help keep you on track toward your short- and long-term goals. But you may also benefit from the help of a financial professional – someone with the perspective, experience, and skills necessary to help you make the right moves.

Like all successful relationships, the one you have with money requires work. But you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.