Retelling your money story

We all know that money plays a key role in our lives, but have you ever considered the money story you’ve inherited from your family? Our money story is a series of beliefs based on how money is spoken about, or not spoken about, within our homes. Just like our hair and eye colour, we inherit money stories as children, and they can significantly impact our lives emotionally.

Our relationship with money is highly emotional and has little to do with logic. Most of this is entirely subconscious, and we often aren’t even aware of it. Dr Nicole LePera, also known as @Theholisticpsyc on Twitter, explains that our financial state has a massive impact on our health and well-being. By understanding our money story, we can create a new, healthier relationship with money.

To find your money story, you can examine the ‘money messages’ you received as a child. These are things your parents repeatedly said on a regular basis. For example, they might have said that “money is the root of all evil,” “people with money are x,” or “money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Another aspect of your money story is the role money played within your parents’ relationship. This can include your parents always fighting about money, one parent hiding money, or one parent being highly controlling over money.

Were your parents open about money, or did they shut down any conversations about it? This can be reflected in whether your parents taught you about budgeting, were shameful around money conversations, or talked about investing.

Money trauma is another factor in your money story. Money trauma refers to traumatic incidents directly linked to finances, such as being evicted or having to move because of not having enough money, a parent stealing, hiding, or using money in a deceptive way, or money causing intense fights.

Money shame is another aspect of your money story. Examples of money shame include feeling embarrassed about how much money your family had, hiding the truth about your finances from others, or being caught stealing money as a kid and harshly judged by your parents.

Lastly, consider how your parents spoke about people who had money. Did they say things like “it’s easy for them,” “they’re rich, they’re not like us,” “they’re greedy,” or “they’ve worked really hard for what they have?”

By age seven, our subconscious money story is written. However, we can still rewrite that story, and it just means it will take intentional practice and work to form a new relationship with money.

For the next 30 days, notice the thoughts that come up every time you spend money, see someone who has money, or look at your bank account. You can journal these thoughts or write them down on your phone notepad. Tune into how your parents (and close family members) talk about money, as these conversations have the deepest impact and can help us uncover our subconscious beliefs about money.

Our relationship with money is deeply personal, and yet we don’t talk openly about it, even with our partners. This lack of open communication can lead to feelings of shame around money. By understanding and working on our money story, we can begin to create a healthier relationship with money and improve our overall financial planning and well-being.

Should you have a Tax Free Savings Account?

In an article recently published on Moneyweb Today (by Paul Leonard, CFP, Regional Head, Citadel), several points were made that succinctly provided useful insight for those considering the options about investing in a TFSA, and deciding whether or not it would be the most appropriate savings vehicle.

Before making any final decisions, it’s always best for us to meet and assess your investment plan based on your financial needs analysis – but these pointers should help you understand the nature of this product and how it would work inside of your financial plan.

The use of tax free savings and investment accounts is generally most appropriate in the following circumstances:

  1. Achieving long-term investment goals
  2. Saving for retirement when your income is below the income tax threshold, and you’ll consequently not enjoy any personal income tax relief contributions made to retirement funds
  3. Topping up retirement savings over and above the maximum amount per annum (namely R 350k) that one can receive tax breaks on. Given that most South Africans are under-funded for retirement, there is a need for most working people to play catch up and contribute more than the deductible limits in retirement funds. It is generally recommended that investors make use of all the tax breaks available for retirement funding investments before using TFSA. This is in line with the government’s objective to ‘complement initiatives and incentives to promote retirement savings”
  4. Savings for retirement when you are uncertain about your long term income or job security and therefore may need to access the capital should you become unemployed
  5. Saving for retirement if you are uncertain as to where or not you will emigrate, in which case you may want to realise the investment to expatriate your capital should you leave

In short – when you have a large amount of money that you can nest away for an extended investment period, a TFSA should most certainly be one of the options that you consider.