Does Your Money Control You?

Money is emotional, both when scarce and when plentiful. You may find that after working long and hard you have more money than you initially imagined, or maybe finally have the money you want.  All along the way the exchange of your time and talent for money creates an emotional connection.  But what kind of connection?  Is your money starting to control you rather than the other way around?

What’s the problem?

Having lots of money is the problem.  As one client says, “The cost of our mistakes is going up with our wealth.” He’s right.  Without a sound investment plan your life’s hard-won earnings may be at risk, underutilized, disorganized,  taken for granted, or even ignored.  At $10,000, you may think “No biggie,”  at $100,000, “Hmmmm,” at $1,000,000, “This is serious,” and at $10,000,000, “Help!”

Signs of being controlled by moneyBe Controlled 

What are the signs that money is beginning to dominate you unfairly?  Here are a few:

  • Inability to make decisions about investing / Fear of making a mistake
  • Spending too much time researching, analyzing and managing investments
  • Paralysis by confusion – overwhelmed by too many choices
  • Short-term fever – always checking account balances and daily performance
  • Procrastination on investment matters
  • Disagreements with family members about how to invest
  • Inability to deviate from old, comfortable ways
  • Intense regret or euphoria with every swing in the market

More signs

If you find yourself saying any of these things, money may be taking emotional control:

  • “I’ll wait until the markets calm down”
  • “I don’t have enough money to care”
  • “I’ll never have enough money”
  • “I may lose all my money”
  • “I’ll get to it later”

Take back controlTake Control

Remember, at this point you are financially successful, and probably successful at a lot of other things as well. The “money thing” shouldn’t be so hard. It’s possible and very healthy to regain emotional control over your financial assets. Here are a few first steps:

  • Get organized. Compile a list of all assets, indicating location and purpose.
  • Write down financial goals -‘ what I want my money to do for me’
  • Go back to basics. Read “3 Steps that Simplify Your Investment Life” and “The Secrets of Investing are Not Secrets” 
  • Give 1-5 percent of your money away immediately and prepare for a flood of gratitude.
  • Understand your financial self – do your own investment personality profile
  • Take a step back – how would you advise a close friend in your situation?
  • Practice self-compassion and self-confidence (mindfulness).
  • Talk to your advisor about your money emotions. If you don’t have an advisor, take a meeting or two and get some perspective.
  • Get an objective opinion from a trusted friend.

When do you hire a professional?

You hire one when you have a lot of money.  How much is a lot?  Only you can decide, but if you’re experiencing the warning signs above, it may be time for professional help.  Even the most resolute do-it-yourselfers agree there is a sum at which professional help is needed.  For most, that’s between $1-3m, the point at which long-term compounding creates unstoppable money momentum. Some diehards say $5m.  I have never met a consistently successful DIYer anywhere near $10m.

Move forward

With some thoughtful effort, education and reflection there is every reason you can have a healthy relationship with your money.  You own it, you made it, and you get the benefit, so get the most out of it. If you’re ready to take more control of your financial situation, we’d be happy to talk about what that means and how to achieve it.

John Osbon –

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