Learn how to understand your relationship with money

5 min | 02 July 2024

Janice Warman
Janice Warman

Your relationship with money influences how you will manage it over your lifetime. Improving it can have a deep effect on your life.

It's worth remembering that the way we interact with money can be heavily influenced by our unconscious feelings about its role in our life, which in turn may have been caused by our experiences of it in childhood and seeing how our family handled money.

It is possible to recognise these influences, reframe your relationship with money, build positive habits, and overcome your fear. You may want to start by understanding that relationship.

A complex web of emotional factors

Financial psychotherapist Vicky Reynal (Opens in new window) runs a private practice in London advising people about their relationships with money and has just published her first book, Money on Your Mind.

'There is a complex web of emotional factors that shapes how we behave with money and how we feel about money,' she says. These include:

1 Money lessons. 'Some of these are transmitted consciously, with our parents telling us what money is for and how we should use it, or unconsciously by watching them argue about money, so we take in this idea that it's anxiety-provoking and that it leads to conflict.'

2 A sense of deservedness. 'This, I find, is a huge factor in how much we allow ourselves to have – do we allow ourselves to reach out for a promotion because we feel deserving of good things? Do we allow ourselves to spend the money we have and enjoy it guilt-free? It's often the lack of this [sense of deservedness] that leads people to self-sabotage financially.'

3 Our sense of agency. 'If you grew up with very critical parents or punishing teachers, or if your childhood was marked by a majority of experiences in which, when you reached out for something, you got denied, rejected or told not to be ridiculous, then then you won’t have a strong sense of agency. You need to feel that when you go for something – you can get it.'

4 Our personality and our defences. 'Some people have never been taught how to talk about feelings, how to put them into words and manage them. Those are the people who, in my experience, are most prone to having an overspending addiction or gambling addiction, because their way of dealing with feelings is to take action.'

5 Our deepest fears and desires. 'Sometimes our money choices are driven by deep-seated longings and fears: we might overspend out of a desire to fit in, we might amass wealth out of a desire to be taken seriously or we might resist merging bank accounts with a partner because of a fear of intimacy.'

How can you fix your relationship with money?

1 'Be curious about the reasons why you struggle with money,' says Reynal. 'Look for patterns. When do I overspend – is it with friends? Is it at night when I feel lonely; or is it when I feel under pressure?'

2 Ask yourself what you are trying to communicate through money. In so many cases, we let money do the talking and we buy expensive presents because we want to say "I’m sorry" or "I love you". What does money mean to you? For some people, it’s power, for others, it’s fairness, for others, it’s masculinity and for others, it’s prestige.

3 Ask yourself what you would have to give up if you changed your money behaviour. 'So, for example, if you were to be less generous, what would you have to give up? I would feel I would have to give up the comfort of showing up with two bottles of wine. I would feel inadequate. I would have to face my shame.'

Seek advice and help

With deeper understanding of these issues, it may become easier to set and achieve money goals. Don’t forget that there is a lot of advice out there to help you on your way, such as MoneyHelper (Opens in new window)Citizens Advice (Opens in new window)MoneySavingExpert (Opens in new window) and a host of money-managing apps that can help you keep an eye on your day-to-day spending.

Once you have achieved each goal, you may want to celebrate your progress with something simple and inexpensive – a picnic, a sunset walk, supper at home with friends. You will have made money your friend.

Looking for somewhere to keep your savings? Bank with Chase and you can open a saver account. Start saving with as little as you like, and we’ll calculate your interest daily and pay it monthly.

18+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account.

Disclaimer: The Hub is intended as a knowledge portal to provide information on a range of topics, including financial products. Articles may reference products and services that Chase UK does not currently offer. This article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice.

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