“Money is one of the longest relationships you’ll have.” If you’ve been in my world for a bit of time, this is not the first time (nor will it be the last) you’ll “hear” me say these words. This statement is something about which I am fond of reminding people – in my writing, in my coaching sessions, and during my speaking engagements.

For starters, because I believe it to be true. But also because I believe it’s one of the ways to get you to focus on how your relationship with money is analogous to any relationship that is of significance to you: It’s multi-layered, complex, nuanced and absolutely emotional!

And, just like those other relationships that are important to you, your relationship with money requires work, attention and your commitment.

This is why my ears always perk up when people express some version of, “I don’t like managing money.” It makes me wonder if they swapped out money and inserted (any relationship of importance), would they still feel the same.

I think one of the reasons some folks have a nonchalant relationship with money is because it is of a love/hate nature: They love earning it, but hate dealing with other aspects of it.

The Lazy Trap

The emotional spectrum may not be as dramatic as “love/hate” (thank, God!). But, let’s face it even the best relationships hit some bumps in the road. That is why when it comes to any relationship of importance, you can’t be lazy…regardless of the type.

And by lazy, this is what I mean: you’re not making any effort; you’re taking things (or people) for granted; and are devaluing the importance of doing the “little things.”

Here are a few examples of what being lazy where money is concerned can look like:

  • Not saving due to other pressing financial obligations
  • Not investing due to a lack of interest, lack of knowledge, or fear of losing what you’ve invested
  • Spending without intent

Given that it is February (the marketing month of love) and that we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, I thought it’d be interesting to illustrate a few lazy/non-lazy parallels when it comes to love and money.

Let’s begin with save…

I have a friend who has date night with her husband every Friday. They’ve been doing this for over twenty years. I love this (and plan to borrow this #relationshiphack the next time I’m in a relationship). It’s a great way to prioritize your relationship. It’s a great way to stay connected. It’s a great way to keep the spark and fun in your relationship – especially when you’re in the midst of one of life’s ebbs and flow moments.

Just like “date night” keeps a relationship strong and growing, so does saving. Whether it’s a “small” amount, large amount or something in between. The act of doing it on a regular basis is what is key.

So, if you find yourself constantly “behind” when it comes to saving because your obligations exceed what’s coming in or your cashflow is not steady, do this: Start small. An example I’ve used before is how $2.74 a day adds up to $1,000 by the end of the year.

Saving is to money like date night is to your relationship. With both, you are acknowledging the power of compound interest.

When it comes to investing…

Like I mentioned above, even the best relationships hit some bumps in the road. But, they don’t abandon ship when things become disharmonious.

Instead, they work to figure out how to navigate and negotiate to the other side of the challenge. They might seek outside help for assistance, or they may do it on their own. But they do it to seek more awareness about themselves as individuals and as a couple. This is precisely the mindset that is required if investing intimidates you.

You are responsible for filling in your knowledge gaps. (This is not to be confused with the actual investing as you can hire that out. But even when you do that, you should work with someone that explains what they are doing on your behalf and why.)

And, you need to be clear about the difference between being a trader and an investor. They are not one in the same!

Investing is to money as it is to your relationship. With both, it is critical to view the short-term dips as part of the process.

Intentional spending looks like…

Spending money is akin to spending energy. Misuse either and you set yourself up for a potential problem down the road – the problem of not having enough at precisely the time you need it.

So, the question is are you spending your money and energy in a productive way? When it is unproductive, you have leaks you’re unaware of and you more easily miss out on opportunities. However, when it is productive, your spending actually energizes you.

The litmus test for spending money or energy in your relationship is joy.

“Does this bring me (or will it bring the other person) joy is a good question to ask yourself?”

Don’t Be Lazy

You don’t need me to tell you, but we all need a reminder sometimes:

Relationships of all types require work.

In the sense that you can’t get so comfortable that…

  • You exert minimal effort to show and give your best;
  • You take the other person and their love for granted and/or don’t leave room for a bit of mystery that comes with always learning something “new” about a person;
  • You either dismiss the “little things” they do to express their love (or worse, feel entitled to them).

Just like you wouldn’t (at least I hope) think this is acceptable when it comes to your romantic* relationships, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to your relationship with money, either. (*This is true for all types of relationships.)

Being lazy with money  stunts its ability to do its best for you.

Here are a few other ways being lazy can show up when it comes to money:

  • You have unused subscriptions or memberships (this is an example of a financial leak).
  • You don’t research or do comparison shopping to ensure you’re getting the best deal – especially on big ticket items.
  • You pay late fees because you’re unorganized.
  • You don’t create systems that help you succeed.
  • You don’t do the internal (read: emotional) work required to be a better steward of your money.
  • You hide behind the veil of, “I don’t have enough time.”

Money and our behavior with it has been a fascination of mine since 1987. And I get that not everyone geeks out about the intersection of emotions and money to the degree I do. Yet, I am still always a bit amazed at how passively some people relate to their money.

Being passive won’t set you up for financial success…and neither will being lazy in the areas of money you don’t like dealing with or don’t feel equipped to handle.

Money requires work and your attention and commitment for a reason. Given the role it plays in your life, that isn’t too much to ask, eh?

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