Repair Your Dysfunctional Relationship With Money

by | Apr 27, 2024

Everyone has a relationship with money, but what if you could drastically improve it with a few quick fixes and get your financial relationship back on track?

Do you ever:

  • Feel burdened with the responsibility of your family’s finances?
  • Procrastinate when doing your taxes and reviewing your personal finances? 
  • Hoard your money, fearing what the future may hold?
  • Set strict budgets, but find yourself giving in to impulse spending.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Dysfunctions can exist in your relationship with money in all shapes and sizes. The best way to improve your finances is to understand the root of your relationship with it. 


Your Relationship with Money

When we talk about relationships, we usually think of romantic ones. But our connections with everyone and everything in our lives are also relationships. 

You can think of relationships like a dance. Picture being at a family wedding and dancing with someone you know well. You move smoothly together, knowing who leads and who follows. You might even anticipate each other’s moves. When everything clicks, it’s great.

But, like dancing, relationships can be tricky. If someone steps on your toes or holds you too tight, you react by pulling away. When these moments of difficulty become the default in your relationship, it can become dysfunctional.

The roles you play in your primary relationships tend to mirror the roles you play in other important relationships, such as with work or your siblings. One of the most important is your relationship with money. If you are in a dysfunctional relationship with people in your life, you will likely apply the same habits when dealing with money.

The following article will look at seven common dysfunctional relationship “dances.”  As you read, think about your more difficult relationships and how these habits affect your relationship with money.

The Seven Dysfunctional Relationships

Harville Hendrix, a well-respected relationship psychologist and author of Getting The Love You Want” identifies seven types of dysfunctional relationships:

Child and Parent

In a Child-Parent relationship, one partner takes on the role of a “Parent” and the other the part of a “Child.

The Parent and Money

If you are a “Parent” in your relationship with money, you may feel you know everything you need to know about investing your money. You may feel confident in your ability to make informed decisions and take pride in your role as the leader of your family. However, making and enforcing your family’s financial decisions can become a burden.

It’s common to feel resentful when alone on your financial journey. While you may enjoy the freedom to determine your own path, you are also forced to deal with financial stress without support.

The Fix:
  • Open yourself up to learning and developing your skills as an investor.
  • Encourage your partner or family members to participate in financial education. With the right knowledge, they can become more active in your shared wealth journey.
  • Find a mentor or coach who has already achieved the kind of success you are looking for to guide you on your financial journey.

Sinner and Saint

n the Sinner-Saint dysfunctional relationship dance, one partner labels themselves as “being good,” and the other adopts the role of “misbehaving.”

The Sinner and Money

If you are the “Sinner” in your relationship with money, you set goals and make plans to achieve them, but you find yourself breaking your own rules.

For example, you might decide to reduce your credit card debt over the next six months. A few weeks in, you come across a great deal on a new pair of sneakers. Before you know it, you swipe your card, telling yourself you will deal with the debt later.

The problem with taking a “Sinner” role in your relationship with money is that the high you get when you “cheat” is short-lived. It’s quickly replaced by regret as you move further away from achieving your long-term financial goals.

  • Set clear goals that are SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound to serve your long-term vision.
  • When planning your budget, include an allowance to spoil yourself a little. If you are too restrictive in your budget, you are more likely to feel resentful and rebel.
  • Find a program that offers accountability coaching. It’s much easier to stay focused on your financial goals when you have somebody to help you stay on track.

The Saint and Money

If you play the role of ‘saint’ in your relationship with money, you may set goals for yourself and follow through with your plans. However, when you get a call from a family member who is unable to pay their rent, you might find yourself rescuing them. It feels great when people turn to you for help. And giving often feels better than taking. However, you could be denying a loved one the opportunity to grow and while moving away from your financial goals.

  • Set clear boundaries and have the confidence to enforce them.
  • Learn more about the financial system and share your skills and knowledge with your loved ones.
  • Having an accountability coach to help you break the habit of financially rescuing your loved ones can make the transition easier.

Authority and Rebel

In the Authority and Rebel dance, one partner is strong, intimidating, and used to getting their way. The rebel complies with the authoritative demands but gets frustrated and rebels.

The Authority and Money

If you take an “Authority” role with your money, you will likely take pride in carving your own path. You are steadfast in your beliefs. You know what you want and exactly how you will achieve it, and nobody will stand in the way. This might sound like a good thing. But what happens if you are on the wrong path altogether? By cutting off any constructive criticism and dismissing any alternative opinions, you could be cutting yourself off from achieving your goals.

  • Leverage the knowledge and experience of others to fast-track your path to success.
  • Learn new technology-driven approaches to managing your finances so that you can make data-driven decisions.
  • Ask for and accept help. This is not a sign of weakness but one of the best tools to leverage to achieve your financial goals faster, safer, and with more certainty. 

The Rebel and Money

If you are a “Rebel” when it comes to money, you know all the rules, and you follow them. You file your tax returns on time, consult with your financial advisor on a regular basis, and do everything you are told. However, you resent following rules you didn’t make, so you rebel.

It’s normal to feel powerless when you are forced to follow somebody else’s rules. It’s why teenagers often rebel against their parents. However, once teenagers grow up and start to understand why their parents enforced specific rules, they tend to comply, but on their own terms.


Demand and Withdraw Dance

In the Demand/Withdrawal relationship dance, one partner demands a task or action be taken, and the other ignores or delays doing the task.

 What’s interesting about this relationship dance is that we often play this game with ourselves. Your “Future Self” sets the demands, but your “Present Self” resists. It’s the battle we go through when deciding between going to the gym or sleeping in on a cold Saturday morning. Your future self wants to get in shape to ensure your long-term health. But your present self is very comfortable in bed.  

Unlike in the other relationships discussed in this article, you don’t take a clear ‘demand’ role or ‘withdraw’ role in your relationship with money. Rather, you will find yourself “demanding” that you do a task, like using a budgeting app to track your expenses, and then “withdrawing” when you simply forget later the same day. 

The Demand-Withdraw Dance and Money

You have dreams for the future such as quitting your job to follow a passion or retiring early to go travel. 

You know that taking care of your finances in the present is an important part of turning those dreams into a reality. So, you tell yourself to do the things you know will help you achieve your goals, like filing your taxes on time or doing your personal admin.

The problem is that life is busy, and doing the task that will produce a result today can feel more urgent than doing a task that will affect your life in ten years’ time. So, your future self keeps demanding that you complete certain tasks, but you keep procrastinating.

  • Turn your dreams into measurable, achievable goals, and create a timeline for yourself to achieve them.
  • Develop a clear, phased strategy to get you from where you are right now to where you want to be in the future.
  • Invest in a program that will serve you long-term while holding you accountable on a weekly or monthly basis. 

Reminder and Forgetful

In the reminder/forgetful relationship dance, one partner takes the role of detail-driven and diligent. The other is more laid back and organic in their attitude and behavior.

The Reminder and Money

If you take a “Reminder” role in your relationship with money, you may pride yourself on always paying your bills on time, keeping immaculate records, and sticking to your budget.

All of these details are important, but if your tasks don’t serve a “big picture” strategy, you might not achieve your goals despite your diligence.

  • Start your financial planning with a firm foundation in investing strategies.
  • Build out the implementation phase of your financial plan based on a solid strategy.

The Forgetful and Money

If you take a “Forgetful” role in your relationship with money, you are more likely to be drawn to big ideas and creative investing solutions but often fail to follow through with your plans. The result is a lot of promising starts that fail because you lose focus. You might find yourself caught up in “shiny object syndrome,”’ where you are constantly looking for the one big thing that will produce the results you need to achieve your financial goal. This often leads to disappointment and self-doubt because nothing you have tried before ever really delivers on its initial promise.

  • Use your creative energy to invest in a solid long-term financial plan tailored to your specific goals and based on facts, data, and proven strategies.
  • Enroll in a program offering long-term solutions implemented in progressive phases. This will fulfill your need to learn something new while helping you reach the finish line.
  • Make sure that you meet with an accountability partner regularly. When your attention wanders, your accountability partner will be there to bring you back on track.

Boxer and Avoider

As the name suggests, the Boxer-Avoider relationship dance is one of the more volatile relationship dynamics. The “Boxer” embraces conflict while the “Avoider” tries to escape any kind of confrontation.

The Boxer and Money

If you come at your relationship with money like a Boxer, you might enjoy being aggressive in your investment decisions and not adverse to taking risks. You are more likely to allow your emotions to drive your relationship with money. This can lead to making impulsive decisions that you regret later on.

  • Channel your passion and energy into implementing a solid financial strategy rather than taking on more risk.
  • Run your investment ideas through mathematical simulators before you invest your money. Assessing the outcomes before you commit will help you make more informed investing decisions.
  • Enroll in a program that offers accountability coaching. Make sure that you are paired with a strong coach who is not afraid of conflict. It can be productive to argue your point of view with somebody who is willing to fight back with equal passion while keeping your main goal in mind.

The Avoider and Money

Do you find yourself completely avoiding taking action when it comes to your finances? If so, you may be in an “Avoidance” relationship dance with your money.

There are many reasons why people avoid taking charge of their finances. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious, and ill-equipped to deal with the task. Your fight or flight response kicks in, and you want to escape these feelings, so you run away or bury your head in the sand.

Unfortunately, the longer you avoid dealing with your finances, the more you have to worry about. Eventually, you end up in a vicious cycle of escalating stress and anxiety. 

  • Start educating yourself about how the financial system works. Once you understand the fundamental principles, you can use this knowledge to develop an action plan to take control of your finances.
  • Do an audit of your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. The more you know, the more empowered you are to make informed decisions.
  • Build a support system. Surround yourself with people who have the knowledge, experience, and compassion needed to guide you in taking an active role in your financial future.

Improving Your Relationship with Money

The great thing about relationships is that they are always changing and growing. If you have identified the dysfunctional roles in your relationship with money, the good news is that you can work to improve that relationship and look forward to a better future.

The one thing that all the relationship fixes mentioned above have in common is that knowledge is power. The more you understand how the financial system works, the better your chances of developing a healthy relationship with your money.

If you are ready to start working on your financial relationship, make sure to join us for our upcoming 3-Day Workshop.

No matter what the current status of your money relationship you will walk away with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to dance your way to a better financial future!

Fynanc Team

At Fynanc (pronounced “finance”), we are on a mission to help people build wealth faster, safer, with more certainty.


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