When your relationship with money is broken, it can seem like you are stuck in an endless cycle of repeating desperation. Occasionally a glimmer of hope peeks through, only to be stomped back into place by the next financial crisis. That’s how broken relationships work: They repeat again and again. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
You’re going to have a relationship with money whether you want to or not. If that relationship is broken, you are the only one who can fix it.
Symptoms of a broken relationship with money
A major symptom of a bad relationship with money is that your financial problems repeat, whether because you are afraid of making the problem worse or even feeling the future will be better. Trust may also be an obstacle to change. People often stay in the same cycle because they don’t know who to trust, what to trust or where to turn.
Any of these sound familiar? If so, don't panic — you can get back on track with your relationship with money. Here's how.
Acknowledge the problem
It’s nearly impossible to fix a problem if you deny it exists.
Be honest with yourself and identify all the areas you need to improve. In severe situations, it can be necessary to seek professional help. Sometimes money problems are the symptom of other issues. Sometimes a financial therapist or coach can help you root out the basis of the problem.
It also helps to get a clear picture of your attitude toward your finances. You can delegate a lot. If you loathe crunching numbers, you can use systems like TurboTax and QuickBooks to take over that task. Aren't that good at saving? Automating may be the answer. By breaking down the real issue, you may find that notions and barriers that prevented a healthy relationship with money in the past can be removed by using some basic rules and systems.
Plan & prioritize
You have your own unique goals, objectives and plans. You alone are uniquely qualified to pick the direction of your financial life. Using someone else’s financial plan will not get you what you want, nor will it motivate you.
Long-term plans are essential in establishing a financial roadmap, while short-term plans are essential for day-to-day decision-making and are the root of long-term motivation. The successes achieved in the short-term fuel the hope and belief that long-term success is possible. And it’s essential to prioritize these short-term plans.
You need to assess the situation and determine what you need to do in order to stay afloat. Once you've got that established, you can work on improving the ride. Deal with the crises of the moment and then take steps to prevent others from happening.
For example, not sure where all your money is going, just that your bank account is absurdly low each month? Start by making a budget (here's an easy spreadsheet template to get you started). Now you know where you're spending, which was the first crisis. From here, you can figure out where to adjust so you're on a better path. You don't have to do it alone...
Find support systems
There are a lot of options for support systems. Support can be as simple as being open and honest with a trusted friend or some other accountability partner. Or it can involve enlisting the help of a group or a professional. Whoever you choose, remember that progress is easier when you don’t carry the burden alone.
Define your mindset: Warrior or victim
The financial warrior and financial victim are opposite ends of the same spectrum. One stands tall and controls the outcome of each situation. The other allows their situation to dictate the outcome. Even turning to a professional for help means you're taking control of a situation and that's a warrior quality.
Once you’ve moved from the crisis situation of living in a broken relationship with money, stepping back and reassessing your situation may prove useful. It can also be quite beneficial to spend some quiet time getting in touch with who you are financially and what you want from your money relationship. You never need to cede control of your financial destiny ever again.
While you're getting your finances back in order, perhaps some free things can help. Here are 50 great summer freebies.
This article originally appeared on CentSai.