Real Simple: Money Mind-Set Shift

By: Sara Morrow, featuring Joanne Heyman

Sometimes you can get a surprisingly high yield from a simple attitude adjustment. Here, experts offer experiments in financial thinking that just might give you a new sense of your dollars.

As seen in RealSimple, June 2016

“Everyone has a complicated relationship with money,” says strategic adviser and executive coach Joanne Heyman. To get to the bottom of that confusion, she encourages putting pen to paper and writing not just a letter, but a love letter. “Money is such a loaded, serious topic, and writing a love letter lets us have a sense of humor about it,” she says. Aim for a page or two, and let loose, stream-of-consciousness style. Think of it as an exploration. “For some people,” says Heyman, “these letters to money say things like ‘Where have you been all my life?’ For others, it’s ‘I’m embarrassed to tell people how much I love you.’ ” Maybe you’ll look back on your past, together or apart. Recount in detail the time that one of you betrayed or abandoned the other (say, the way you dealt with your credit-card bill). 

You can even trace the relationship back to a childhood “crush” on your allowance. “You know that you’ve hit that sweet, honest spot when you feel a little embarrassed,” says Heyman. Once you’ve signed off, read the letter. What does it tell you about your emotions about money and how that might be affecting your decision making — not just in terms of dealing with cash but also in terms of the jobs you’ve chosen, the home you live in, and the future you dream of? How can you use this knowledge moving forward? “Writing the letter goes beyond the tactical and gets at any shame or hang-ups you might have,” says Heyman. “And once you begin to unearth the deeper feelings, you start to notice how they play out in your shopping, spending, and saving patterns.”