Money is always a touchy subject, but it’s especially challenging in a world with rising inflation, sky-high housing prices, and an unpredictable stock market. Add in a hefty dose of unsolicited advice and judgment from parents and grandparents, and you’ve got an entire generation (or two!) whose relationship with money is anything but positive.

We get it — we know how hard it is to think about your finances without feeling guilty or ashamed or terrified about what’s coming next. Those feelings are normal, especially among younger people.

But feeling that way all the time can take a toll on your mental health — and it makes it so much harder to manage your money effectively. So how can you overcome those feelings and improve your relationship with your finances? Is it possible to get to a place where you aren’t filled with dread every time you log into your bank account?

Yes! It takes some work, but you can find ways to develop a healthy, positive view of your finances. 

Does your relationship with money define your self-worth?

Let’s dive in with some self-reflection. Do your feelings about your finances affect how you view yourself? When you think about your income, your housing situation, or your debt, how do you feel about yourself?

Do you feel guilt or shame? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Many people feel this way. But your income and net worth have nothing to do with your value as a person — you are not just your salary or retirement savings. 

So the next time you have those feelings, remind yourself that your finances don’t define your worth, value, or ability to have a positive impact on those around you.

Are your financial decisions based on logic or emotion?

Are you an emotional spender? Or an anxious saver? 

Letting sadness, fear, or guilt drive your finances is a common thing many of us experience. But it’s not the best way to manage your finances, especially when you’re trying to relate to your money in a healthy way. Emotions can cloud your judgment and make it difficult to figure out which decision is objectively best.

So, how do you put your feelings aside when you’re making financial decisions?

Try to avoid dealing with your money when you’re tired, hungry, or emotional (sad or elated). Spend a little time considering big purchases instead of buying things on impulse. And consider bringing in a third party, like a financial planner, to help you get a different perspective.

Overcoming spending shame

Finally, let’s talk about spending shame. It’s that feeling of guilt every time you buy something for yourself, especially if that thing isn’t “necessary.” 

We’re talking takeout or grocery delivery or a night out with friends. Or using your tax refund for a vacation instead of putting it in your emergency fund. If you’re like most people, spending money on yourself always comes with a hefty dose of guilt.

There are many underlying causes for feeling this way, but it’s often tied to how you were raised. There’s also a lot of societal pressure to feel guilty about spending money on something that isn’t necessarily a “responsible” choice. 

So, how do you overcome that guilt?

Shift your thinking! Instead of focusing on the dollar amount of your spending, think about its real value. When you get groceries delivered, you’re saving yourself the time and stress of a store run. Ordering a pizza can give you more time to relax with friends instead of cooking dinner. And a vacation can give you lifelong memories with your family.

Money isn’t just money — its value depends on how you use it! And when you use money in ways that match your priorities, you start to feel less guilty about what you choose to spend it on. You can feel more confident in your choices and know that you’re getting the most value out of your resources. 

Money is a tool — it’s meant to be used!

We’re not saying you shouldn’t save for retirement or build an emergency fund. We’re just saying that money is simply a tool — and you should use it in ways that are right for your family. If you feel guilty every time you buy something or question your self-worth when you look at your bank statements (or loan balances), that’s stressful! And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Your worth isn’t tied to your retirement accounts or loan balances. Financial success doesn’t have to mean retiring early or being debt-free by 30. A far better measure of success is how you use your resources to have a positive impact on the world, even if that’s just in your corner of the world.  

The point is that you’re in control of your relationship with money. Your finances shouldn’t run your life or emotions. And sure, that’s easier said than done, especially in this unpredictable economy. But no matter how high the price of eggs gets or when the next meme stock crashes, you can still control your perception of money.

Want a practical way to apply this idea? Build a budget around your priorities — not your parents’ advice, a popular finance book, or half-hearted money advice you see on TikTok. Figure out what matters to you, and allocate your money accordingly is where the real work begins.

And BudgetingBlocks™, our hands-on budgeting system, makes it easier. The blocks let you visualize your funds and divide them up according to your unique goals. It’s a hands-on way to think about your money, which almost always leads to more success than just using paper and a pen. 

Learn more about BudgetingBlocks™ here!