Are you a social worker who wishes to empower others to make long-term financial behavior change? If empowering others to improve their financial circumstances is your goal, then you must first start by healing a very important relationship. This relationship is often one which is overlooked. It is, however, a vital cog in the wheel when it comes to improving one’s financial circumstances.
So, what is this mysterious relationship? Simply put, social workers looking to empower others to make tangible, sustainable, financial behavior changes must start by helping others understand how to heal their relationship with money. While this may sound strange to some who are encountering Financial Social Work for the first time, let’s take a look at why this relationship is vital to a healthy financial life.
Importance of the Money Relationship
As those who participate in the Financial Social Work Certification course learn, your relationship with your money drives your financial behavior and your financial behavior determines your financial circumstances. This is critical information to grasp because it reveals how and where to begin to take control of your money and to gain control of your life. In other words, as social workers, it offers you a starting point to help empower individuals to begin their journey towards financial security and financial stability.
Improving One’s Relationship with Money
Just as our interpersonal relationships take work, time and effort, so does our relationship with our money. In order for you to offer the knowledge and tools to empower others to improve their relationship with money and begin to improve their financial circumstances, you must first share the know-how for these individuals to discover where their relationship stands right now. Below is a simple exercise found in the Financial Social Work Certification which will begin to uncover feelings, thoughts and attitudes – one’s relationship – towards money.
Honest Assessment of One’s Relationship with Money
Begin with the question, “How would you describe your relationship with your money?” Because our money relationship is one we often do not contemplate, this question may be a hard one to answer. To begin the process, keep answers as simple as the following descriptions. While these categories are very broad, they provide a starting place for understanding your relationship with your money.
Overwhelmed by debt and/or lack of financial and emotional support or resources; feeling vulnerable and unable to change your financial situation due to the lack of financial knowledge and/or the absence of hope. (*Remember: A fundamental principle of Financial Social Work is that there is always hope.)
Believing that your current job/lack of job, the economy, your credit score, your credit card debt, student loans and/or lack of money management skills prevents your financial circumstances from ever improving − regardless of any efforts you make.
Getting by -but just barely. Paying current bills and making minimum debt/loan payments but having more month than money, no savings, no assets, no emergency fund,etc.
Current with bills, reducing debt/student loans, using a “Personal Spending and Savings Plan,” building an emergency fund and working to take control of your money
Reduced/eliminated debt (student loans) using a “Personal Spending and Savings Plan,” have an emergency fund, savings and building assets, improved/improving credit/FICO score(s), and managing your money rather than allowing your money to manage you.
How can the broad categories above empower individuals to heal their money relationship and begin to take back control of their money and their lives? Simply put, the amount of time and effort one must put into the financial component of one’s life on a daily, weekly and monthly basis directly correlates to the category chosen to describe the terms of the current relationship with your money.
As noted above, healing this relationship, while a vital cog in the wheel, is only a starting point in the journey towards long-term, sustainable financial behavior change. Social Workers who are seeking a proven way to empower others to improve their financial circumstances are invited to take a look at the Financial Social Work Certification which offers the knowledge and tools to address the behaviors and financial issues which affect an individual’s basic needs, security needs, social needs and self-actualization needs.
Written By Reeta Wolfsohn, CMSW
Empowering Others to Improve Financial Circumstances Begins by Healing This Relationship was originally published @ Center for Financial Social Work and has been syndicated with permission.