I’ve been told I have several “Jacquette-isms” when it comes to money. Here’s one of them: 

“Your relationship with money is one of the longest relationships you’ll have.” 

People are usually caught off guard when they hear me say it. 

Either because they don’t really view themselves as having a relationship with money. Or, because they hadn’t really considered the longevity of the “thing” they use almost every day – be it in the form of cash, credit card, or digitally.  

It’s easy to see parallels between your relationship with money and the other relationships you have that are long-standing, significant, or both. 

It’s easy to see how and why your relationship with money is multi-layered, nuanced, complex, and emotional.

Especially when you consider the ways in which money: 

  • Touches almost every aspect of your life and business; 
  • Influences the decisions you make (or don’t) because of what you have (or don’t have); and 
  • Triggers a variety of feelings. 

Whether it is someone, something, or money, when you are in a relationship with it, there’s a connection of some sort. 

Types of Relationships

If you Google “types of relationships,” you’ll get a plethora of results that range in quantity and description. For the point I’m aiming to make, I want you to think about the relationships that matter to you categorized in this way: 

  • Family – Who are the family members that energize you and how; who are the members that don’t energize you…and how? However you define “healthy,” which family relationships would you describe as healthy and why; do the same for those you’d describe as unhealthy?
  • Others – Be it friends, colleagues, clients, pets, or complete strangers, how would you characterize those you enjoy and learn from vs. those you simply tolerate? What makes any of these interactions transformational vs. transactional? 
  • Objects – What are the material things in your life? Which are purely functional; to which do you have an emotional attachment; which are a hybrid?
  • God/Spirit/Universe/Serendipity – If you don’t believe in God, Spirit, or the Universe, perhaps you believe in things happening unexpectedly or by “accident.”  How would you describe a “presence” bigger than you?
  • Self – How would you describe your relationship with yourself? Are you your best friend? How often do you “bet on you”?

As you consider what comes to mind for you within each category, which connections are expressed as love? 

In what ways does money impact the quality of these relationships?

Connection & Love

Here’s why I ask…

Depending on your faith, you may have heard some version of the scripture: “For the love of money is a root of all evil…” 1 Timothy 6:10

I’m not a biblical or religious scholar, so I don’t feel equipped to debate this from a religious standpoint. (Besides, that isn’t the point of today’s piece.) 

However, from a secular perspective, I find the words challenging because: 

  • Some people weaponize this scripture (or other expressions like it). They use it to shame people for their behavior with and feelings about money, and sometimes for nefarious reasons.
  • It makes money the problem – when it isn’t. And in making money the problem, it diminishes the good money can actually do for people and communities.
  • It overlooks the role of connection and love in having a healthy relationship with your money.

While I get the message of not idolizing money (and I agree), I do believe it is hard to have a healthy relationship with it if you consciously or subconsciously believe money is a root of all evil

Or, that people with it are “bad.” Or, that what you have takes away from someone else’s coffers. (This is usually a by-product of financial greed, hoarding, and entitlement.)

Yes, It’s Complicated…And?

I don’t believe you get to choose whether you are in a relationship with money. You just are. 

And through no effort of your own, there will be times when it will be a relationship of ease and when it will not. 

That said, I do believe you get to choose what type of relationship you have with money. 

You get to imagine all the ways you want money to play a role in your life and business: how can it help make your financial reality easier; how can it prepare you for the future you dream of?

You get to choose what habits to practice, so you can do your part in creating (or sustaining and growing) your financial success.

You get to choose what systems will help you navigate your setbacks and celebrate your successes. 

Yes, your relationship with money is complicated for a variety of personal, cultural, and systemic reasons. But, from my experience and observation, this isn’t any different than any other long-standing and significant relationship you have. There’s a degree of complexity with all of them. I call this life being life.

On Friday, the jobs report came out with encouraging news about the labor market. This, in the midst of ongoing concerns about inflation and layoffs at major tech companies reaching other industries. And let’s not forget the anxiety over how the debt ceiling issue will be resolved.  

During times, like now, of heightened financial uncertainty on a macro level (government) and/or a micro level (personally), you might pay more attention to your money – to what you have; what you need; what you want; or what you might lose. 

And depending upon your circumstances, your reaction to what’s unfolding right now, may be to retreat – to minimize spending or investing. Or, perhaps you actually see this as an opportunity to strategically spend or invest. Only you get to decide which response is best.

But I am on your screen to offer this suggestion: 

You don’t have to love money (as in idolize it) to have a loving relationship with it (as in treat it with respect). 

When you respect your money, you treat it as you would any relationship of meaning to you (not like one that feels threatening); you proactively engage with it and give it direction; and you recognize it as a tool you can use for good – for you, your family, your business, and your community at large. 

So, my answer to the question raised in the title of this piece is: Everything!

It’s what makes the difference between having a transactional relationship with money vs. a transformational one. 

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