Our mental relationship with money

Post-Christmas financial stress catches many of out in January. Here, Peter McGahan explains why a proactive approach to money management is needed – for…

Sines, cosines and tangents. While I was pretty handy at maths, this was beyond me. I was 16 and had other things on my mind. Oh, and I wasn’t paying attention at the start. 

While I could easily google trigonometry today, I’m confident my response would have me revert to staring out a window thinking about football and the next disco or ceili and the chance ‘Fiona’ might ask me to dance. It was a more pleasant thought than a weird squiggle.

I could have asked the teacher, but, well, I’d left it too long. A few days had gone by and even when armed with the answers I couldn’t understand the questions. I should have known it by now, and I hadn’t asked, and when Mr Loughran asks me why I haven’t asked, well … I’ll not bother.

It’s no surprise how it sums up many a person’s approach to financial advice too. In my social chats, everyone opens with the question, ‘you’ll think it’s a stupid question but…’. It never is.

And there we have it. The reason why money, talking about it and doing something about it can create such mental stress.

When faced with money worries, as many will be through Christmas as well as extending their debt, the answer can easily be to close our eyes and lean away from the emotion. That’s normal. That’s your clever brain trying to protect you from even more stress and becoming overwhelmed. But it ain’t gonna feed the chickens!

Around a third of us experience stress and anxiety regularly because of money. 10 per cent feel hopeless. That’s not a good thing for those people. Look out for them.

Young people tend to be the biggest issue with 37 per cent of them feeling uncomfortable talking about financial stress. Shame is the biggest driver. 52 per cent of adults still struggle talking openly about their financial situation.

That’s no surprise of course because there is shame attached to money. If you watch TV or read what you are bombarded with, money is seen as some sort of status. We all know that a sense of status in social groupings is one of our key nine emotional needs, and because money is used to express ourselves and how we see ourselves in the world, there can be a significant over attachment to it.

While I don’t watch TV and have never read a tabloid newspaper, it’s hard not see the ‘celeb’ getting ‘caught’ walking down the street with their latest poncy shoes. You’d think having been caught seven times they might have spotted the photographer who was hired to promote the shoes they were paid to wear. That becomes the black hole (a gravitational hole is impossible to get out of). All you need to know about black holes, therefore, is get the hell away from them.

Delete your money story about yourself. Think of money as it is – simple promissory note that gives you some options, and manage it, and your relationship with it, in that way.

Think of every pound you spend as a piece of time. If you earn £15 or £400 per hour, think of the purchase you are about to make as ‘x’ hours of work. Then think of what you might do with those three hours if you didn’t have to work them – being with your loved ones, your friends, or just chilling with a glass of wine.

Time is money but money is time.

We all now know the mind and our thoughts is our body, and vice versa. 75 per cent to 90 per cent of doctor’s visits are for stress related issues. Toxic thoughts and anxiety become you. They create hormone imbalances, deplete the brain’s chemicals needed for happiness and they damage your immune system. Stress shortens our telemores which are the end caps of our DNA strands which causes us to age quicker. High blood pressure, as well as digestive disorders and a tidal wave of other unhealthy conditions are all contributed to by stress.

Those are unchallengeable facts, so we become what we actively think about. Because we have been wired to protect against threats and danger, we look for it all the time prioritising bad over good. That’s natural but it doesn’t feed the chickens.

Time is money but money is time.

Next week, I’ll give you a range of simple tips to retain control of your finances.

Don’t just read this column and move on. If you have financial query please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or by calling our Truro office on 01872 222422.

If you found Our mental relationship with money interesting, you’ll find more simple ways to manage money from Peter McGahan on our Finance channel.

Tags: , Last modified: January 10, 2023

Written by 7:06 pm Finance, News & Views