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By Matthew D. Kane | President | Partner

My relationship with money is complicated. I believe many others can relate to this as well. Many of our financial perspectives, assumptions, and decisions don’t come primarily from our experience with financial resources.

In my childhood, my understanding of money was significantly shaped by the relational brokenness in my family. My parents were divorced when I was very young, and as a result, my relationship with money was set on an unhealthy trajectory. I believed that I would never be able to do the things I wanted because money was scarce, and I was convinced I’d never have enough to change my circumstances.

Over time, I started to notice friends and family members who actually had an abundance of money. I started to wake up to the notion that the more money you had, the better your life would be. I knew what it was like not to have enough, and I began to grow in my ambition to change that by any and all means necessary.

This contrast formed my view of money at its core. For a long time, namely during my twenties and thirties, my family had a scarcity mindset due to my work with a nonprofit organization. This mindset led to some poor financial conditions for us – oftentimes fueled by poor financial decisions. We never went without the essentials, thankfully, but we lived as if we were always on the brink of serious trouble. Living paycheck to paycheck was the norm, and it only reinforced the sort of financial insecurity I experienced as a young child.

Over the past few decades, our financial situation has improved dramatically. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt like we won’t have enough money for groceries or to send our kids to college. We’ve experienced an abundance in stark contrast to my life growing up. We’re deeply grateful for the change. Truth be told, though, this newfound financial success introduced us to a new challenge. One that we were as unprepared to handle as the days of financial struggle.

Abundance Isn’t Always Better

My own life and the lives of our clients have shown me a secret that our culture prefers to hide. I’ve learned that financial insecurity can exist regardless of what your bank account says. We had to learn that as we accumulated more money, there were old scarcity mindsets that remained. I observed a growing willingness to allow our identity and our relationships to be overly influenced by it.

Here’s a practical example of how this can creep into our lives. Money has this rather amazing ability to give you access to places and people that you otherwise might never have without it. We can travel more. We have more access to activities and experiences. We have many more options we could choose, so it’s important to continue asking if they are things we should do.

In my own family’s life, we’ve noticed how easy it is to miss out on the depth of relationship we want to have with our friends and with each other. I have felt the practical push and pull of this regularly and often ask my wife Kim, “Although we can do this, is this really something that aligns with WHO we are and HOW we want to spend our time?”

How’s Your Relationship with Money?

Genuine human contentment has more to do with your relationship with money than your net worth. The same unhealthy financial mindsets we cultivate with less don’t go away when we experience abundance and, unchecked, can wreak havoc with our pursuit of the rare jewel of contentment.

From our spending to our saving to our giving, abundance has a way of amplifying whatever is inside of us and what really matters to us–for better or worse.

That’s why we intentionally explore the relationship with money so often with our clients. We want to help families develop a posture that is intentional, meaningful, and aligns their finances with what matters most. For now, consider a few questions about your own relationship with money:

  • How does your past, especially your upbringing, affect your relationship with money today?
  • What are some of the healthy habits you have, and from whom did you learn those things? And conversely, what sort of unhealthy habits did you learn?
  • In what way has a growing net worth brought you more peace and stability or perhaps less?
  • What kind of relationship does your family have with money? Your spouse? Your children? Your grandchildren?