2: How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Money

Because all the money and the best investment knowledge in the world will not lead to a Good Life if the thinking that shapes your relationship with money is flawed

Very many people spend money in ways quite different from those that their natural tastes would enjoin, merely because they feel that the respect of their neighbours depends upon their possession of a good car and their ability to give good dinners. As a matter of fact, any man who can obviously afford a car but genuinely prefers travel or a good library will in the end be much more respected than if he behaved exactly like everyone else. – Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

So many people of wealth understand much more about making and saving money than about using and enjoying it. They fail to live because they are always preparing to live. Instead of earning a living they are mostly earning an earning, and thus when the time comes to relax they are unable to do so. – Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don't want to do. – Lou Mannheim to Bud Fox in Wall Street

What this part is about

How we use our money, our time, and our energy is the clearest and most honest expression of ourselves. Living well, fulfilling our potential, lies in aligning this use with who we truly are. A shame, then, that we are hard-wired to give it so little self-directed thought. Expend a little energy, invest a little time, and make a lot more out of your money.

Making the uncomfortable comfortable and creating confidence from the core – Money is a source of discomfort even for millionaires. Discomfort does not lead to the sort of good decisions that define a Good Life. This isn’t about learning to look, it’s about learning to see.

Taking control of your cash, rather than letting it take control of you – Expenditure is important as a diagnostic tool of money problems not a cure for them. It’s better to be possessed by purpose than possessions.

Knowing yourself and living in accordance with that knowledge – Revolutionise your relationship with money by changing the stories you tell yourself about it, and about you. Make your best stories better and the unhelpful ones redundant. Aligning the stories you want to tell with the stories your use of money are telling is the key to living a Good Life.

What this part isn’t about

Numbers – Having a positive relationship with money is more about neurology than numbers. A focus on the maths is as unhelpful as it is ubiquitous. This focus comes in many forms, most of them deviously subtle, such as the spurious depth of a concern with security or freedom.

Glamorising frugality – This is about how to use your resources to live a Good Life, not a boring or a self-destructive one. All misers live in misery. Diets based on denial don’t work. Less is more is a pointless soundbite, which ignores the omnipresence of opportunity costs, and signifies nothing but the fury it denounces.

How to spend it – Anyone that tells you how to spend your money is much more likely to be projecting their own prejudices and seeking to justify their way of life than they are to be enhancing yours. This isn’t about ‘goals’ in the traditional dreams-based sense. Because that sense is nonsense. You know what you want, but it’s well hidden, partly because of all those that offer specific prescriptions for how to spend, or not spend, your money.