How do you relate to money?

When you hear the word money, what are your immediate thoughts? How does the word money sit in your body? Is it a neutral or even peaceful feeling or is it leaning towards anxiety and fear? Does the word money make your thoughts race? Do you want to check out of the conversation? Or are you eager to talk about money? To lean into the #Joyofmoney? Money, physical money, whether in monetary notes, a balance on a bank or investment account, or a bar of gold, is an object- not a living creature- but oh, how we give money a charge! What do we allow money to represent in our lives that gives it such a charge?

Your Thoughts About Money

The way you think about money has a lot to do with how money shows up in your life. I know this to be true. I grew up monetarily poor but I changed the course of my life because I refused to believe I had to remain poor. Now, we had money to buy food, (while also growing and gathering our food), and we had a roof over our heads. The roof was modest for sure and when something broke it did not necessarily get fixed. Growing up in Connecticut, in a small duplex house with no central heat, was very chilly in the winter! We relied on a kitchen gas stove, electric space heaters, and lots of blankets to keep us warm. Getting out of my cozy bed on a winter morning was certainly a challenge!

I used my natural surroundings to help me rewrite my story. We lived near a pond surrounded by woods. My family did not have much money but the nature around my home was rich. There was continual creation, rebirth, and growth everywhere I looked in nature. This became embedded in my thought process and I knew I was resilient and could choose to create my life. Choice is a key ingredient in how you relate to money. You are not your circumstances, you are so much more.

The photo above is of the front steps of my childhood home. That little cat on the porch was named Sunshine- what an appropriate name. There are always reminders of the rays of light, if we are just aware and open enough to see and experience them. We can truly create alchemy in our own lives.

Do you grasp for money?

Do you think if you had a firm hold of money your life problems would be solved? Do you allow money or your lack of money represent how you feel about yourself? We create the energy around money in our lives. If I believed that because I had lack of money as a child, I was not worthy of having money in the future, I would have created an entirely different life than the one I live.

Money does not define who we are. Does having money and acting responsibly with it make your life flow easier? I would say yes, because money becomes a vehicle to help you create the life you want. Yet money in and of itself, is never the answer. The money is a tool for you to use to enhance your life and the lives of others. Do not let money use you or define you. Take back your power and learn you have control over money, not the other way around.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I will always be poor,” or “I will just have to work until I die,” or “Money is boring and complicated,” or “No one ever taught me how money works,” and other such statements? These words or any like them do not serve you. Reframe those words in your head to: “My circumstances do not define me,” and “I am resilient,” and “Learning about money is exciting,” and similar language. The words you tell yourself matter.

Responsibility = Freedom

Responsibility often gets a bad rap. I challenge that and say that when it comes to money matters (and much else in life), responsibility equates to freedom. Take a good look at your current money situation. Get what I call, a “financial snapshot” of where you are now. Look at everything: Your income, all expenses (fixed, necessary, and discretionary), savings, investments, assets, debts, insurance policies, retirement plan- everything. Just take a look- pull back the curtain. Once we face the mystery of our own money- it is no longer a mystery. Then we can begin the journey of facing our money situation head on- and forging a new path, if the path we are on is not working for us.

Zero-Balance Budgeting

I create a zero-balance budget every month. It allows me to know exactly what I have coming in and what I have going out. At the end of the month what comes in equals what goes out. When you create a budget, you are being accountable to yourself. The budget allows you to earmark money for your emergency fund, other savings, and investments.

If you place these categories in your budget and implement them, you are building wealth. It is easier to commit to paying yourself first when you have it in writing. The new pair of shoes, tickets to an event, or other discretionary purchases are looked at in a new light if you realize that you have not yet paid yourself. It becomes a habit and your money grows, with little effort on your part. It is a slight adjustment with the way you relate to money, that can make a substantial positive difference.

Monthly zero-balance budgeting works. Being responsible and accountable with your money brings freedom and choice. Releasing the hold that money sometimes has on us, by looking it in the eye and saying I take you on, is empowering.

I ask you to look at how you relate to money. To be honest with yourself, to be open, and to be willing to transform that which no longer serves you.


Susan, The MoneyMaestra

Susan Howell
Written by: Susan Howell, The MoneyMaestra.

Even though I grew up without money, I was able to retire at 50 based on my financial practices. I worked for the Federal Government for 26 years, with 6 of those years at the IRS and 20 at the Department of Justice, which included investigating many money-related cases.

I created MoneyMaestra to share what I know and to help people get on the path to Financial Freedom.


  1. Christina

    I like to think I have a respectful relationship with money, I live within my means and feel totally blessed with everything I have. Tim and I are aligned on our spending and saving habits which I also think alleviates stress. This was a very thought provoking post for me! I know my childhood formed my relationship with money, I am going to talk to my boys about this, as they had more than I did growing up.

    • Susan Howell


      Thank you for sharing about your relationship with money. All of us learned different ways to look at and relate to money when we were kids. Even as we grew and became adults, some of what we were taught about money in our childhood homes linger. It is good to examine what we learned and determine if it serves us now. Maybe some of it does and some of it does not and we let go what no longer serves us. I think it is a wonderful idea to open up this conversation with your boys. The more we talk about money with our kids, the more we remove any mystery or taboo around money and the easier it is to have a good, healthy, responsible relationship with money.

  2. Bill DiYeso

    I watched Susan Howell grow up & none of what she has shared is an exaggeration. Her approach to money management is very close to my wife’s and mine.We have never had a lot but ew’ve always had enough. One thing I would add that helped me immeasurably is learning at a very young age the value of EARNING money. I bought my first baseball glove by selling Christmas cards & soon after mowed several of my neighbors’ yards for the money I needed to keep up with my friends. There doesn’t seem to be as much of that in the current child-raising approaches. I would urge those of you raising young children to incorporate this one simple thing into your philosophy, even if you pay them yourselves for work around the house. As Sue has shown in her own outcomes, when you want something badly enough to work for it, you gain much more than whatever it is you’re after. You gain self-respect & an empowerment that become the most important tools with which to build your future. Sue’s success is an amazing story but it’s “doable” for anyone who craves success (whatever that may be) as much as she did. Listen to her! She’s the real deal.

    • Susan Howell

      Thank you Bill. You and Sue (Mrs. Diyeso) helped me immeasurably as a teenager. I always knew I had a safe place to be and that dinner was going to be delicious:) I can still remember sitting around your dining room table at dinner time- I felt like family. I will forever be thankful for the heartfelt welcome I always received from the both of you. I discovered the beauty of Cape Cod because your family let me spend part of my summers there with your daughter and my best friend Karyn.

      Yes, teaching our children that earning your own money is part of the equation is so important. It does help you gain self-respect, empowerment, self-reliance, and the ability to know you have choice. I was that kid that was working multiple jobs: babysitting, pet sitting, paper route, working in an office, with Karyn, and then getting a job in a department store as soon as I turned 16. I think Sue even paid us to clean the house. I was always thinking of ways I could earn money. I still think like that- now it is just on a bit bigger scale.

      You and Sue were wonderful role models for me as I was growing up. You both helped me more than I can express. I want to help others learn that financial responsibility leads to financial freedom and that your circumstances do not define who you are.


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