Let’s face it – managing your finances successfully is not rocket science. Yes, it requires some education but the information and tools are readily available if you are willing to learn. Managing our money should be much simpler than it is because money often comes along with tremendous emotional charge depending on the meaning we give it. It can make us feel generous or greedy. It can make us feel less than or inflate our ego. It can make us feel gratitude or fearful we don’t have enough.
What you think and feel about money will have a huge impact on how you manage your finances and it gets vastly more complex when you add a spouse or significant other into the mix.
In working with millions of people from across the globe for over 3 decades, the driving force behind everyone’s actions and beliefs are a core set of needs. I have coined these the “6 human needs” and although each person values each one differently (in their own personal hierarchy), becoming aware of them will help you understand both your own motivations as well as your spouse or significant other. They will also open your eyes to the way in which you choose to manage (or sometimes mismanage) your personal finances.
First, a quick breakdown of the needs themselves:
1. Certainty – This is the need to feel in control and to minimize risk in your life/finances
2. Uncertainty (aka Variety) – Too much certainty or predictability creates boredom. We need to change things up now and again.
3. Significance – The desire to feel important, unique or needed.
4. Love/Connection – Love is the oxygen of the soul. We need this connection in order to thrive as humans.
5. Growth – Growth comes from challenging ourselves, learning and discovering who we really are.
6. Contribution – The secret to living is giving. If life is all about you, you will most certainly be miserable. Joy is often found in losing sight of yourself and meeting the needs of others.
Every single human has these 6 needs but not all share the same hierarchy. There are typically two that dominate your decision making and belief structures.
So just how do these needs come into play when you and your significant other are trying to synchronize your financial goals? Here are a few examples where emotional needs are driving the financial decisions:
- One might try and accumulate expensive brand name toys (cars, boats etc..) or insanely priced handbags in order to fill the need for significance – to feel status. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with nice things unless they come at the expense of responsibly saving enough income first or being able to contribute to others.
- One might be so fearful of markets that they stay in cash to meet the need for certainty. With inflation, cash is a losing proposition so one must counter the fear with facts about how the market behaves. I cover the facts that will set you free from fear in my latest book UNSHAKEABLE.
- One might value variety so much that they invest in all sorts of random opportunities without a plan or critical thinking.
- One might value contribution that their heart is overflowing with generosity for charities they support.
You can see that if someone craves certainty as their number 1 need, they will feel at odds with someone who values variety (“How flippant and impulsive can you be? Don’t you have a plan!?”). You can see that if someone craves significance and just has to have that new BMW, they will feel at odds with someone who sees contribution as a much better use of those funds.
One wonderful exercise you can take with your spouse or significant other is to sit down and self-diagnose which 2 of the 6 needs are the highest on your respective lists. This will create a level of understanding that will help you empathize with the emotions driving their money decisions (and EVERY other decision for that matter). It may also help you realize that certain needs may be the tail wagging the dog and will not help you achieve your long-term goals as a partnership.
Aligning your long term financial goals with your core emotional needs will remove any inner conflict and create much more harmony for your household.
Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist, and the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. After interviewing fifty of the world’s greatest financial minds, and penning the #1 New York Times best seller Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins returns with a step-by-step playbook, taking you on a journey to transform your financial life and accelerate your path to financial freedom: UNSHAKEABLE.