When you think of baggage the image of a traveler carrying their luggage may come to mind.
Have you ever taken a moment at the airport, train, or bus station to observe how people carry their baggage?
Some are exceedingly efficient by carrying just a light bag or backpack.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those with multiple bags that are heavy, awkward, and cumbersome. They drag through the terminal, even if they are rushed to get to the gate.
Finally, there’s the rest of us. Maybe not the most efficient, but certainly not the least either.
Now apply this example to your finances and you get an idea of what financial baggage looks like.
Your Financial Baggage
From a therapeutic point of view, your financial baggage is the emotional baggage that is creating problems such as:
Credit card debt
Falling behind on bills
Lack of savings
Either an inadequate or non-existent retirement fund
Just as in the above example of literal baggage, if not managed correctly, financial baggage can drag you down—economically and emotionally.
Your Emotions and Your Financial Baggage
Your emotions and thoughts are what drive financial behaviors.
Money is simply a tool. Our money mindset, early lessons, and core beliefs about money determine how we use it to our benefit.
Consider for a moment: How do you respond emotionally when it comes to money and finances?
Are you a spendthrift who has the philosophy of “spend it now”? Are you a “penny-pincher” who recoils at even spending a modest amount of money? Or do you ignore financial problems such as lack of income or debt altogether without really addressing the issue?
You might feel overwhelmed at the thought of looking at your bank and credit card statements and preparing your taxes. So you avoid it altogether and have little idea of how much you are making or where your money is being spent.
You might love making and sticking to a budget, watching every penny that comes and goes, and feel excited when your savings balances go up. But on the other hand, you are missing out on experiences with family or friends because you are afraid to spend any money for fear of losing that “security”.
You might be someone who earns a good living but wonders why you have nothing left over for saving. In fact, you may feel a knot in your stomach looking at your savings and asking: ”Where does my money go?”
You might also have been told that “money is the root of all evil” (in fact, the exact quote is: “Love of money is the root of all evil”). In essence, being told that people who make a lot of money are somehow corrupt. So you avoid, consciously or unconsciously, opportunities to make more money.
The Effects of Your Financial Baggage on Your Personal Life
The effects of financial baggage can show up in your relationships, particularly when married or living together and sharing finances.
If you have a positive relationship with money, then that will have a good influence on how you approach finances as a couple. Of course, the opposite is just as true. In fact, disagreements about finances are one of the leading causes of why couples split up.
You may miss out on social events due to either lack of money or not being willing to spend due to fear.
You may be spending more that you have in order to keep up with the lifestyle of those around you, fearing they will “find you out” and realize you are not as successful as you portray.
Or, conversely, you may feel guilt about having more resources than those around you and downplay your financial success in order to fit in.
So, if you have a lot of emotional and tangible financial baggage, it can really damage your relationships.
What to Do About Your Financial Baggage
When your financial situation is creating unnecessary negative emotions, the first thing to do is to acknowledge that you need help. You may not have the answers as to how to solve this problem immediately, but at least you can acknowledge that things have gotten out of control.
The typical suggestions to deal with lack of financial resources are:
Make a budget
Cut excessive spending
Find additional sources of income
Ask to refinance loans or debt
Cut up the credit cards and use only cash
But if these strategies haven’t worked for you, then it’s likely that your money mindset could use some work. To find a permanent solution to that problem, you need a therapist experienced in financial therapy.
The Benefits of a Financial Therapist
A financial therapist will be able to help you make the connection between your emotional financial baggage and why it happens. You will learn to better understand your relationship with money and how to better approach your finances. In the end, you will feel more empowered to make good financial choices for yourself.
The power to shed your financial baggage is already inside you. You can do this!
And you don’t have to make this journey alone. A financial therapist can help guide you through so that you can make better practical and emotional decisions about money for yourself, your family, and your future.