Defining Your Relationship with Money

Managing money and personal finance is more than a bunch of tips and tricks on saving or investing money.

If you learn nothing else from, know this.

Understanding your relationship with money is the key to personal finance.

But what does a relationship with money even mean? After all, when most people think of relationships, they think of love or companionship. Or if it’s negative, the toxic friendships we ended and the relationships we strive to improve. “Relationship” isn’t the go-to word, but it should be.

Money is a major part of our lives, and just like any other relationship, it can be good or bad.

What is our relationship with money? How do we define it?

Your relationship with money is the way you interact with money on a daily basis. It includes your attitudes and beliefs about money and your spending, saving, and investing behaviors.

“Remember, financial decisions are all about how we think and feel about money, our emotions and preconceived notions of what lifestyle we want to live, what self-esteem we have, and where we place value,” explains Erin Papworth, MPH and founder of “We built a quiz, the Money Portrait, into our app because we know that a baseline understanding of your values, beliefs, and outlook on life can help you define your relationship with money.”

How we relate to money can have a big impact on our lives. 

It can affect our ability to save for goals like retirement or homeownership. It can also influence the way we handle debt and make consequential purchases. Plus, our relationship with money can impact how we feel daily. 

For some people, money is a source of stress and anxiety. They feel like they never have enough and are always worried about their finances. For others, money is a tool they can use to achieve their goals. They may be smart with their spending and save for the future.

What influences your relationship with money

Your relationship with money is influenced by various factors, from upbringing to current circumstances.

Here are some of the key influences:


How were you taught about money growing up? Did your parents or guardians instill healthy money habits in you, or did they struggle with money themselves? These early experiences can shape your entire attitude towards money.

Current circumstances

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, your relationship with money is likely more strained than it would be otherwise. On the other hand, if you’re doing well financially, you may have a more positive relationship with money.

Financial goals

Do you want to save for retirement or buy a new car? Your money relationship will be different depending on your financial goals.


Your money relationship may change as your responsibilities (and income) grow as you age.


Some people are naturally more frugal than others, while others are more prone to spending money impulsively. Your personality type can play a role in your money relationship.

Portraits in a personality quiz so you can see how your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs impact how you spend money

What makes a bad relationship with money

There are several key components.

1. Feeling like you’re not in control.

It’s hard to feel like you’re in charge of your life when you’re struggling to make ends meet or feel like your money is constantly being taken from you.

2. Feeling like money is always a struggle.

Whether you’re constantly worried about bills or never have enough money saved up, money stress can take over your life.

3. Feeling like money is always the enemy.

Having a positive relationship with money is hard if you’re always fighting about money or trying to hide your spending.

4. Feeling like money is always a battle.

If you’re constantly trying to make more money or struggling to pay bills, money can feel like an enormous burden.

Image of a cell phone showing a payment of $91.07 to Dog Gone Holistic Monday, 21 June. The text above the image reads Transaction Swiping. Track what you spend. *Fall in love* with your progress.

If any of these sound familiar, you might have a bad relationship with money. But don’t worry, you can take steps to fix it. Money doesn’t have to be a constant source of stress and anxiety, even when things are tight. With a little effort, you can have a healthy, happy relationship with money.

Improving your relationship with money

If you’re looking to improve your relationship with money, it can be helpful to examine your attitudes and beliefs about money. 

Start by asking yourself:

  1. Are you afraid of money? 
  2. Do you view money as a source of happiness or success? 
  3. What messages did you receive about money growing up?
  4. Do you see money as a positive or negative thing?

Ultimately, your relationship with money comes down to how you view it. Identifying your money mindset can be the first step in creating a healthier, more positive relationship with money. From there, you can start making small changes in your behavior, like setting aside money each month for savings or paying off debt.

These changes can help you feel more in control of your finances and less stressed about money. And that can lead to a much healthier, happier life.

Related Reads

Defining Your Relationship with Money

Why You Need to Improve Your Relationship with Money

How Your Childhood Impacts Your Relationship with Money

Type of Relationships with Money

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