The Emotional Burden of Money

emotional burden of money

Does money hang around your neck like the proverbial albatross?

Perhaps you have inherited a large sum of money or sold a business that you poured blood, sweat and tears into.

A sudden receipt of money, whilst to many, might seem like a joyous occasion bringing new freedoms and independence, for others, it can give rise to more negative emotions.

“What if I lose it all?”

“This isn’t my money, I don’t deserve it?”

“I feel like I’m cheating, large sums of money don’t come to people like me.”

“I have no experience with money, it’s all too complicated to worry about”

In my near two decades in financial services, I’ve been party to many conversations like this. It’s been with widows who have inherited their spouse’s wealth; children who have received money from their parents; divorcees who, never previously having had to deal with money, have now got to figure it out for themselves and business owners who have worked hard to build a business and for the first time are seeing what it is actually worth in money terms.

There are so many emotions tied up in money that it can cause great stress. So much so that some people wish they never received it in the first place.

Giving yourself permission to spend money can be hard, oftentimes it needs a re-framing of the issue to see it from a different perspective.

  • What would your deceased spouse say if they saw you NOT spending the money?
  • What messages, explicit or implicit, are you giving your children about money through the actions you are taking or not taking. What might a better message be?
  • What would you say to a friend in a similar position to yourself?
  • What role did money play in your life as a child? Have you brought unhelpful beliefs with you into adulthood?
  • Would giving some money away to a cause close to your heart unshackle you from the burden?

As with many things, not dealing with the issue can build up its importance in your mind. Taking small incremental steps can keep the momentum up and reduce the negative emotions you are feeling.

That said, you shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured into making a decision either. There is nothing that urgent that needs to be done with your money, despite what others might say.

It might start by having a conversation with an appropriately qualified and experienced financial planner or someone you trust. The conversation might cover what is important to you generally and why money is important to you specifically. Rather than being governed by it, this can help you give meaning to the money and understand the role it is to play in your life.

Gaining clarity on your money and having a plan for it is liberating and will give you confidence that the decisions you come to are the right ones for you.

If your money is causing anxiety for you and you would like to talk about it, please do get in touch.


Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

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