2 questions to ask yourself to have a healthier relationship with money

April 28,2020

Does the way you spend money actually make you feel good?

Most of us have such complex relationships with money that we forget that it can be capable of making us feel REALLY DAMN GOOD!

Now, I don’t mean that spending money = feeling good.

Sometimes spending a lot of money on something actually feels terrible.

And sometimes even the smallest purchase – or saving instead of spending any money at all – can feel incredible

I’ll give you an example: my parents didn’t allow me to buy designer items when I was growing up, and I was always annoyed about that. I wanted the fancy stuff! So when I graduated from college and was finally making my own money, I saved and saved and saved to buy an expensive purse. I thought I would be SO happy to finally have my very first designer item. But you know what? That purse was fun for about two days, until I realized I actually just didn’t care about it all that much. I spent all that money thinking it was going to make me happy, but I didn’t. I had to learn the hard way that spending money on designer items just doesn’t personally bring me a lot of joy.

And on the other end of the spectrum, I feel a crazy amount of joy when Xander brings home a $5 bouquet of flowers from the grocery store. 

The bottom line: we can’t treat all of our purchases equally. 

So it’s incredibly important that you get clear on how to feel good around money.

It’s also crucial to realize that everyone approaches this differently. Some people will tell you that you need to save every single cent, while others will tell you to “treat yo’self” any chance you get. Some people say that it’s idiotic to spend money on any furniture anywhere other than IKEA, while other people will lecture you about the importance of a zen, well-furnished home. 

You need to figure out what works for you

To help you out, I have two questions for you to consider:

If you want to do a deep dive into this topic, go back through your purchases from the last few months (I recommend looking at pre-COVID purchases), and ask yourself, “Did this purchase end up bringing me joy?” 

If it did, see if you can allow yourself to get even more enjoyment out of it. Sometimes we can have so much guilt around money that we don’t allow ourselves to fully enjoy spending it! (Especially these days, when money stress is high.)

If the purchase didn’t bring you joy, consider taking a more frugal approach towards that category of expenditures going forward. For example, you may realize that you’re just not that into pricey wine. So load up on the Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s!

There are a lot of expenses that you’ll probably feel neutral about, like your monthly utility bill. But see if you can reframe these expenses in a way that makes you feel good! For example, you might say, “My electricity bill allows me to be comfortable in my home, even when it’s too hot or cold outside!”

If you’re in a relationship, examine your own relationships with your expenses separately, then have a conversation about what you each discovered.  

First, look for areas where you guys are in alignment. 

For example, maybe you both love staying in fancy hotels. That’s awesome! When we’re allowed to go on vacation again, don’t stress about whether you should go the cheap route or the expensive route. Book a fancy hotel that makes your heart light up, and savor every second you spend in it!

On the other hand, maybe you both realize that you’re not that into cars. Cool! The next time you need to buy a car, you can drive past the Mercedes lot, and straight to Honda. 

There are definitely going to be areas of misalignment too. Maybe your partner loves buying video games, which drives you nuts because you don’t like them. It’s easy to think, “My partner is wasting so much money on these dumb games!” 

So here’s how you deal with those: try to reframe your partner’s expenses as them having a joyful relationship with money. 

When you feel judgment coming up, can you tell yourself, “My partner has identified that spending money on video games brings them pleasure and joy.” 

If you’re still feeling upset, you can add something like, “And I need to remind myself that they save us a ton of money because they don’t really care about buying nice clothes” or “And they don’t spend money on exercise classes like I do.”


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!