Money relationship counselling

Are you and your money still on speaking terms? Or are you sleeping in separate rooms? Cleona Lira, IFA and Chartered Financial Planner, is here with some tips for getting your financial relationship blooming again.

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Talking about money has always come easily to me – maybe it’s because I’m an IFA, or maybe that’s the reason I became one. But for many people their relationship with money is more strained. They find it hard to discuss their money or even to think about it, and so problems tend to get buried rather than addressed. But I believe a lot of these problems could be overcome simply through a more honest confrontation with one’s money – what I call ‘financial integrity’.

A case in point. At a social dinner a few weeks ago, my best friend was asked by another friend, politely enough, ‘If you don’t mind me asking, what was your bonus this year?’ My friend clammed up, and after a few moments of considered silence she replied, ‘Much less than I expected or deserved.’ But the other friend wasn’t prying – she is simply so removed from the corporate world that she didn’t see it as a personal question. But my best friend got defensive as in her family she is seen as the ‘lender of first resort’, whether it be shoes for her sister or dental bills for an aunt – so for her it’s a sensitive area.

This led me to ponder some of our deeply held beliefs about money, both conscious and unconscious – the psychology of money, in other words. Money is really just a means to an end. In itself it doesn’t make you happy – witness the lottery winners who go broke within a couple of years, or famous wealthy recluses such as Ida Wood in the 1920s. I am no research scientist or Brene Brown (whose TED talks I love) but I have seen a fair share of ‘sabotage with money’. For instance, somebody making a bad financial decision early in life and being scarred by this, rendering them incapable of making rational financial decisions after that.

So how do you start to rebuild your relationship with money? Here are my top five tips.

  1. Keep accurate records of money. Yes, I hear your objections. But as in any relationship, honesty is the best policy. If you simply make a habit of noting down what you spend, you can keep one step ahead of the money gremlins trying to sabotage you.
  2. Work out how much time it takes you to do your work – not just your official hours but also your travel, study time and other ‘leaked’ time.
  3. Work out what you spend on work-related tasks. This includes buying work clothes, that latte at work, lunches, books or periodicals related to work, and so forth. Now, deduct those costs from your annual income.
  4. Now work out how much you really earn per hour, dividing that net income by the total number of hours committed to work-related activity.
  5. Finally, once you know what your real hourly rate is, you can work out what your time is worth in terms of your ‘life energy’.

In other words, now you know the true value of money from your own point of view – that is, how much of your life energy goes into earning every pound. So now you can answer that all-important question: is it really worth it? You have become more conscious of how you spend your money, and of the relationship between it and you. And that translates into spending more on the things you really love, and cutting back on the expenditures that give you very little joy.

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About the author

Cleona Lira is an IFA and Chartered Financial Planner at 2Plan Wealth Management. With a special interest in investments and pensions, she particularly enjoys making the financial planning process engaging and interesting for clients.

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