6 Steps to Change Your Relationship with Money

The number of zeroes on your savings account statements aren't just a depiction of your financial future - they're a symbol of your self worth says Kate Northrup, author of the upcoming Money: A Love Story. Here, she lays out your plan for financial and emotional freedom. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.

Stop feeling bad
"There's often a lot of guilt around money, but surrounding your finances with negative feelings will interfere with your ability to create abundance," says Northrup. Instead of focusing on the fact that you can't afford a family vacation this year, pay attention to the seemingly simple things paying the bills has gotten you. Thanks to auto-paying the electric company, you've had lights for 30 days. When you write a check for your mortgage, you're reaffirming your goal of owning a home. Reframing your expenses puts you in a completely different mindset - one of positivity that makes you feel more ready and willing to take action to change your circumstances.

Find your balance
You've been avoiding your online statement since you splurged on those new shoes, which is understandable, but it's time to face the dollar signs. "Not only will knowing exactly how much money you have and what you owe help you get better control of your budget, but putting attention on your finances makes your money grow," says Northrup. Checking your balance every morning establishes a daily habit of taking control of your finances. Yes, you'll be more aware of your bottom line, but you'll also take back the power you've been giving your purchases, making you feel more in control again.

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Make your spending match your values
"You want to spend money in ways that make you feel expanded and not contracted," says Northrup. Take a look at your expenses and align them with who you really are and what you really want with a simple (albeit kind of silly) exercise: Print out your bank statement, and draw smiley faces around purchases that made you feel happy and sad faces around spending that made you feel icky or restricted. For example, seeing a charge for a dinner with a friend who always complains may get you down, while paying for a yoga package may make you feel lighter or more relaxed. Aim to fill your life with less of the "sad face" purchases and more of the "smiley face" ones next month.

Have fun with your money
It may not sound like your idea of a good time, but hear us out on the power of this alone-time activity. Make a weekly financial freedom date with yourself where you carve out an hour or two to tackle chores such as paying bills and calling credit card companies to ask about lowering your APR. "You're not going to want to do something you dread, so the key is to make the experience pleasurable to make you more likely to stick with it," says Northrup. Clear off your desk, get some pretty folders, light a candle, play your favorite new music, curl up in a cozy outfit, and pour yourself a fizzy drink. Even if you don't get everything you'd like accomplished, the simple act of creating a block where you are the only priority is empowering.

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Save for your self-worth
Instead of looking at saving as depriving yourself of that extra dinner out, see it as a way of taking good care of yourself - and your Italian food loving belly. Saving's too tough to just do it, so instead, look for ways to cut back that simply feel like "editing" - skipping the more expensive haircut, a lunch you're hardly interested in attending, the movie you don't care about seeing in theaters. Make it fun by naming your account something you really do want. "I named one of my saving accounts 'home décor,' and I felt so much more satisfied buying a new rug that I saved up for compared to putting it on my credit card and paying all those interest charges," says Northrup. As your choices begin to reflect what you truly value and enjoy having in your life, you'll strengthen your self-worth.

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Make it a group effort
"We need to bring money out of the shadows, and discussing it with your girlfriends can teach you a lot about spending habits and finances," says Northrup. You don't need to talk IRAs with everyone on the PTA, but you and a few close girlfriends will benefit from discussing a financial book such as Overcoming Underearning: Overcome Your Money Fears and Earn What You Deserve. Often we keep our money issues private, and like a shameful secret, it can eat away at us until it becomes an insurmountable problem. Discussing the nitty gritty details of our money woes can feel awkward if not downright embarrassing, but by doing so, you may learn how friends got out of a similar crisis. Plus, with the support of a group, you may start to feel like you can move forward again.

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