06/06/2015 08:44 EDT | Updated 06/06/2016 05:59 EDT

How I Got My Money Back From the Boogeyman

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USA, Utah, Salt Lake City, Young woman putting money into her savings jar

I was at a workshop the other day about personal finances. Instead of the usual blah blah blah about investment opportunities and admonishments to save more for retirement, this one took a very different tack. The moderator, Gail Fullarton of Investors Group, wanted us to consider our emotional relationship with money. The first question she asked was who's in control?

I knew I needed her help when the first answer that popped into my head was the boogeyman.

Money is wondrous stuff. It can make great things happen, give us incredible opportunities, soften life's blows. It can also make us slaves, cause us terrible stress and become one of life's blows. Our emotional relationship to money and its many faces determines a lot about how we handle the stuff.

As Gail went through a bunch of questions -- how do you feel about getting paid, or about cash in your wallet, or about spending your money versus someone else's -- I started to realize that I'm actually kinda scared of money. Which goes a long way to explaining why it doesn't tend to stick to me even though I've made a lot of it over the years. I don't invite it to stay. I should be asking it to move in, make little dollar babies and populate my space more than it does.

Like many things, this is partly because I'm afraid I'm going to screw it up if I try to do anything more than just having it sit in a bank account. And I've also noticed I have a bit of an unhealthy attachment to liquidity, which I equate to freedom. Now that I know these things and have somebody who can help me navigate past them, I'm feeling like I might just be able to seize control from the boogeyman. How great will that be?

I think Gail's really on to something here and not just for me. Many women who long to do something adventuresome but haven't say that it's because they don't have the money. But I've noticed that often it's not because the money isn't there. It's because we think we should be spending it on our kids or the family vacation or some other thing that's for the collective benefit instead of our own selfish needs. And if that guilt isn't an emotional response to money, I don't know what is.

So this is my new adventure - seeing if I can give the money boogeyman the boot, and make the good stuff more sticky.

I'd love to know -- what's YOUR emotional relationship to money?


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