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3 Tips for Managing Your Relationship with Money

How do you feel about money? Are you a spender or a saver? How do your friends and family feel about it? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not alone, though you might feel like you are. In a recent survey Edward Jones conducted with 2,007 adults 18 and older, one in 10 Americans reported they never discuss finances with their families.

"For generations, many families didn’t discuss money openly, leaving people feeling like they were doing it alone," said Edward Jones Investment Strategist Nela Richardson. "Understanding that you can improve upon your financial health and communicating your goals and plans to your family is an important step toward financial well-being."

For example, you might be surprised to learn that while 81% of respondents say they feel in control of their financial situation, they admit to mixed emotions when it comes to their money. Only 21% of respondents reported they feel happy when thinking about saving money.

The survey also found a gap between respondents’ intentions and their actions when it comes to short-term versus long-term saving and investing. When asked what they would do if someone gave them $1,000, 72% of respondents said they would allocate it to short-term goals (those that can be accomplished in fewer than five years). Yet, one in four respondents also reported that retirement was a top savings priority (26%).

"Whether you are strapped with student debt, saving to buy a home or trying to build an emergency fund, there are trade-offs that must be made in balancing these short-term goals and your long-term financial future, such as investing for retirement," Richardson said.

When it comes to spending behavior, 48% of millennials surveyed considered themselves to be savers, not spenders, compared to Gen Xers (46%) and baby boomers (56%), debunking the myth that millennials aren’t as financially focused as other generations. In fact, 75% of all millennials reported having emergency savings, compared to only 66% of Gen Xers. Of respondents who do have emergency savings, roughly one-third (30%) do not have enough saved to cover a month’s expenses.

Nearly all those surveyed (92%) recognized there is room for improvement in their financial health. One in four – savers and spenders alike – expect to reduce or improve their spending habits to improve their financial health in the future.

So how exactly can you have a more positive and open relationship with money? Richardson offers these tips:

  1. Recognize what emotions you feel when it comes to saving and investing your money. For example, how does spending make you feel? How does saving make you feel? Being honest with yourself about these emotions can prevent you from making emotional money decisions.
  2. Develop a sound financial strategy that can help reduce stress and anxiety and make you feel empowered.
  3. Ask yourself if you need an accountability partner such as a family member or financial advisor who can keep you on track to reaching your short- and long-term goals.

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