How to Reclaim the Power Money Has Over You

Updated on January 2, 2020
David Geller profile image

JOYN CEO David Geller has gone beyond wealth management to discover ways to bring meaning and joy to his clients’ lives.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash | Source

Humans apply meaning to money. We use it as life’s key metric for success. We equate security with assets and freedom with the size of our portfolio. We give the dollar power by connecting it to our self-value. And then we wonder why it has such an impact on our feelings.

We may understand that financial assets aren’t the answer to self-satisfaction, but we still struggle to shake the impact money has on us. We apply meaning to it, equating security with assets and freedom with the size of our portfolio.

Money, as an object, means nothing, so how can it cause strong feelings of envy, fear, and shame? We’ve programmed ourselves to put money front and center — to see it as the foundation for success, security, and freedom. In fact, wealth is important enough for nearly 25% of individuals to list it as the meaning of life, according to Pew Research Center data. In order to reclaim our emotions, we need to break the connection between money and happiness.

Money and Misery

Money is the leading cause of stress for 44% of individuals, according to a Northwestern Mutual survey. People who place emotional value in money risk having problems every time they experience a life transition or face a significant challenge. As stress increases, any little change in financial circumstances will make them feel worse. It's a vicious cycle.

When financial assets are tied to our psychological well-being, we have trouble disconnecting the two. Years of this self-sabotaging behavior can result in memory difficulties, problem-solving issues, and lowered esteem. And because we let money affect our emotions, we can’t reason a way out. A simple disagreement with your boss could take on catastrophic proportions under this type of mental duress.

Sadness and anger can also lead to impulsive and risky purchases. A Harvard University researcher discovered that people spend more when they’re upset. There’s a reason that “retail therapy” is more than just an adage: People who engage in emotional spending aim to improve their moods. Unfortunately, these habits and behaviors don’t address the root cause of the problem.

Let Go of Money-Driven Feelings

Changing how you think about money isn’t easy. After all, the association between money and power isn’t logical — it’s emotional. Consider evaluating your mindset from a psychological perspective. At our firm, we’ve coined a philosophy called Behavioral Wealth Management™. Our goal is to help people make sound choices instead of rash decisions.

You might be surprised at how often individuals with lots of money still feel mired in unhappiness and disillusion. Wealthy people aren’t innately happier; the key drivers of happiness aren’t related to extrinsic motivators such as money. Rather, happiness can be found in activities that demand our complete attention or close relationships build on trust. It can be found in friendship, family, hobbies, and beliefs. Without a personal purpose, a “rich” person will be just as unhappy as a “poor” person.

It’s time to realize that happiness is unrelated to fiscal prestige. No matter how much we make or what our bank accounts look like, we should find fulfillment in other influences. Here’s how to reclaim how money makes you feel:

1. Rethink internal money messages.

Evaluate how you think about money. Do you make knee-jerk decisions? Do you put too much weight on money? You may have a toxic mindset that only leads to stress and poor financial decisions. Realign how you value money with your standards for happiness and self-fulfillment.

2. Reflect on your own abundance.

Rather than thinking about what you don’t have, consider what you do. Reflect not on the few with more but the vast majority with less. Once you have a fresh perspective, assess your abundance in the other five elements of wealth: time, talents, wisdom, network, and body and mind. Although many Americans define wealth with dollar signs, 72% believe the way they live is more valuable.

3. Remember that money is a tool.

Like a tool, money has purpose. A hammer is used to drive nails, and money is used to enhance lives. Society may tell you that happiness is found in the number of things you own, but the truth is that joy is a result of many intersecting components. Sure, it’s nice to live comfortably and indulge in extravagances, but money isn’t the be-all and end-all.

4. Learn how to properly use the tool.

Tools require training. No one expects a teenager to flawlessly drive a car on his first try, so no one should expect to handle money perfectly from the start, either. If you have children, make the financial education process a household experience. By teaching your family how to view wealth, you’ll ensure that future generations understand what really matters. You don’t want your family’s wealth to disappear after three generations like 90% of other family fortunes do.

5. Engage in enjoyable and affordable activities.

Focus on engaging in meaningful activities that don’t require a lot of money. Grab coffee with a friend, volunteer where you’ll make a difference, or spend time exploring nature on an afternoon hike. Forgetting about money for a while loosens its grip on you.

Feeling ready to disengage from your money-centered emotions? Take it day by day. Soon enough, you'll look back and wonder why you ever let a dollar sign stress you out.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)