When you think about your personal relationships, you may be overlooking one key one: money. And, TBH, your relationship with money should be one of the most important ones you have. Just like any other kind of relationship, you can have ups and downs, conflict, resolutions, you name it. Instead of being a casual acquaintance or friend toward money, you can and should be BFFs with it and the way you manage it (BFF necklace optional).
"If you have a good relationship with money, then it generally means you have more choices in the rest of your life," Kimberly Palmer, NerdWallet's banking and credit card expert, tells Bustle. "Your relationship with money literally influences the rest of your life choices — where you live, whether you get married (and possibly even to whom), when and if you have kids, what vacations you go on, what education and career you pursue — it affects everything. If you prioritize improving your relationship with money, then often, the rest of your goals in life will follow."
One such example of the importance of having a great relationship with money is about saving it, of course. NerdWallet recently released a study finding that if millennials of a $40K salary saved 15 percent every year, they would have over $500K within 40 years saved. That seems unattainable, right? But it's proof that every dollar and cent count, because they do add up. In case you're curious, that $40,000 averages $769 a week over 52 weeks, and 15 percent would be $115 a week. Yes, you may think that sounds like a lot, but a week of $5 coffees is $35, then add in a few meals eating out, and you're up to $115 — or even more. So, if you think long-term, wouldn't you rather put that $115 toward your eventual $500,000?
I spoke to other finance experts, too, on why your relationship with money should be an important one, and here's what they had to say.
1. Because Money Is Power
You may have heard the phrase "money is power" time and time again, but it's for good reason — because it's true. "The truth is, money is power," Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, tells Bustle. "The society we live in is a capitalist one, and money steers it. It plays out in politics; it plays out in the way companies handle (or don't) allegations of sexual harassment against their senior employees; and it can even play out in our personal relationships. A big reason why women have less money than men is the pay gap, yes — but also that we're not saving and investing as much as we need to. We live longer, we earn less — and we need to account for that while preparing for the future. Ask for that raise, set a budget for yourself (I recommend the 50/30/20 rule) and start investing regularly."
2. Because It Has A Cause-And-Effect Cycle
Chances are, you've had those weeks where you want to splurge on concert tickets — they're $200 apiece, and you want to surprise your partner with them. But that $400 is not in your weekly budget. Then what? Spend it and cut back in other ways (like groceries and meals out)? Charge the concert on your credit card? No matter which option you choose, it will effect something else.
"The unfortunate truth is that money effects pretty much everything in our lives," Maggie Germano, Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women, tells Bustle. "It is usually the deciding factor whenever we are making a big decision, whether that is choosing a job, moving to a new city, traveling to a new country, having a child, ending a relationship, etc. Money can hold us back, or it can give us the freedom to choose the life we really want. That is why I think it's so important for women to get their money right! I want them to have the freedom to live their life independently of other people's opinions or desires. So get clear on the life that you want to live. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What do you have to do to get there? And how does money fit in with all of those answers? Once you answer those questions for yourself, you can start taking the steps forward to get your money right and reach your goals."
3. Because It Effects The Type Of Lifestyle You Have
Perhaps you have friends who take a few vacations a year, but you haven't taken one for a few. You think they make around the same amount of money that you do, so how do they do it? Budgeting. A first step is to track your spending, Kimmie Greene, consumer finance expert at Intuit's Mint, tells Bustle. "Money is a major factor when it comes to the type lifestyle you'll have," she says. "Do you know where your money is going? Staying organized and being honest with your spending habits can help foster a healthier relationship with money. You become more aware of the types of activities you're spending money on and also where you may need to scale back. Also, acknowledging your history with money is important — whether you have a large amount of debt or a bad credit score, being able to address those issues and make a plan will help you get closer to reaching your financial goals."
4. Because Managing Your Money Will Make Life Less Stressful
You and I both know that money stress = overall stress. When there's a money issue, it seems to seep into all facets of life. So, this is all the more reason to control it before it controls you. "Whether it's buying a home, starting a business, planning a wedding, or simply building up an emergency fund, many of the goals an individual wants to accomplish in life require managing, budgeting, and saving money," Heather Roche, Vice President of Deposits at Discover, tells Bustle. "Learning how to take control of your finances and manage money will help make some of life's biggest goals less stressful and leave you more financially secure in the future."
5. Because It May Effect Those Around You
You may think your money matters will only effect you, but that's not necessarily true. In fact, money is the #1 issue couples argue about. "While your relationship with money shouldn't take precedence over your emotional relationships with your family, spouse/partner, or friends, it can certainly impact those relationship dynamics," Erin Lowry, author of BROKE MILLENNIAL: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, tells Bustle. "It's important to treat money with respect, but always recognize it as simply a tool for living a life that you want."
6. Because Communication Is Key
Just like relationships you have with friends, family, and significant others — anyone, really, communication is key. With money matters, communication is key, too. "Avoiding conversations about money because they make us uncomfortable doesn't change this," says Krawcheck. "Instead, it can leave us, as women, worse off. If we women aren't talking about money — about how it affects us (and I mean all of us), about how far money takes people in our society, about how we're at a disadvantage by not having as much money as men especially as we get older, and about how we need to change this… who will?
Greene agrees about how talking about money with others is key. "The reality is that many of us are anxious about our money, but we rarely talk about it with friends and family," she says. "By making money one of your most important relationships, try connecting with those closest to you about your biggest money worries. What are your goals, those of your friends? Consider diving deeper on people's approach to money or learning more about their biggest money win or fail. The conversations will surprise you and help alleviate some of the stresses of navigating money. They can help provide more solutions, different point of views, and guidance. Including friends and family in the conversation about money will help your relationship with both improve over time."
7. Because If You Don't Care About Your Relationship With Money, Who Will?
Say you're dating someone. If you guys are going through a rough patch, who's to blame? Most likely, both of you. Perhaps your partner is working late a lot and missing your nightly dinner together. You are getting resentful, though you don't say anything (i.e., like suggesting you postpone dinner by an hour or two or have dessert together instead); instead, you're passive-aggressive. Technically, however, you can come to a compromise to better the relationship. With money issues, too, you need to give them your time and attention. "No one cares more about your money than you do," Jennifer Barrett, Chief Education Officer at Acorns and Editor in Chief of Grow, tells Bustle. "If you take care of it, it will take care of you. That means spending mindfully, saving enough to avoid going into debt, and investing early and often, so your money has the chance to grow."
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why your relationship with money should be an important one. You can also see an underlying theme to all of the advice above — that managing your money is up to you and you alone, first and foremost. Yes, you can seek the help of a financial advisor, and also download apps to help streamline the process of saving and investing. However, at the end of the day, or downloaded apps, your bank balances, savings, investments, etc., are all in your control and no one else's.