How to Heal Your Dysfunctional Relationship with Money

Money is such a taboo topic in today’s world. It seems that asking somebody how they deal with money is like questioning their religion—a big no-no.

What’s more, since we deal with money on a daily basis, we think we should know everything about it.

Those two ideas—“you just don’t talk about it” and “I should know this already”—have really done some damage to our personal relationship with money.

When we are faced with big questions about money, we feel shameful, fearful of asking for help, and unsure of who to turn to.

This starts a vicious cycle that’s hard to break from. The one I know well.

The Dysfunction

Growing up, my father taught me about money. He had made his fair share of mistakes and wanted to ensure I avoided the pitfalls he fell into.

That was good, but the true test of these lessons came when I entered the “real world.”

All at once, I felt free to buy things without parental permission. New clothes? Charge it. Last minute vacation? Dig into savings.

In no time, I was in thousands of dollars of credit card debt and didn’t have any money left in savings.

That’s when the pendulum swung the other way and I became a money hoarder. I bought cheap over-processed food, cut out every activity in my life, and holed myself up in my room to prevent spending.

Even after I got out of debt and recovered some savings, I was in a continual state of panic that I would need money for something and not have it. I was stuck in scarcity-based thinking and unable to get out.

I felt so ashamed. I had learned about money. How did I get here?

The Root of the Problem

Realizing that the behaviors I adopted were unhealthy, I needed to get to the root of my issue. After much research, I learned that no matter what we’re TAUGHT about money, we still tend to model our parents’ relationship with money.

Looking at my parents, it became clear.  My father’s motto was “It’s just money!” My mother, on the other hand, was scared of investing and always seeking a bargain.

Those different ideas showed up in me—leaving me in a quite dysfunctional money relationship!

The Healing

Finally understanding the roots my dysfunctional money relationship with money was a huge “Ah-Ha!” moment.

I couldn’t live in the middle of this conflicting model anymore. It was destroying my present life and my future happiness.

I decided to re-program myself by determining MY values around money, apart from my parents’. To do that, I created a Money Mission Statement and created systems to keep me aligned with my mission.

Here’s are some examples:

Mission 1: I pay myself first, saving at least 20% of my income. This helps me realize my short-term dreams and provide for the 70-year old version of myself who needs these dollars.

System: My employer direct deposits 20% of my paycheck into my savings account, which I invest wisely and use to fund my life goals.

Mission 2: I spend money to add value to my life. I don’t obsess over the cost of something if it improves my life.

System: When I buy something, I ask myself how much I want it on a scale of 1-10. If it’s not a 9 or a 10, I know that thing not worth my money.

Mission 3: I appreciate what I have. This increases my happiness and satisfaction with life and prevents me from spending to fill a “void.”

System: I write in my gratitude journal every Sunday.

The philosophy and the systems around it enable me to save and spend in a healthy balance. It has been revolutionary for me!

You are NOT Alone

If you ever struggle with money and see yourself in a dysfunctional relationship with money, please don’t feel ashamed. You are not alone.

See what behaviors you may have learned from your parents and correct them by creating your own Money Mission Statement. Then, put systems in place so that you stay in check! If you need help creating systems, hop on over to my blog to check out some of the ones I use, like automating my bill pay and meal planning.


Leah Manderson

Leah Manderson’s purpose is to help people afford their dream lives. She gives free money tips through her blog and multimedia courses and is in the process of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. To learn more about Leah visit

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