She, along with Roberta Taylor, wrote The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle, a book that equips couples in retirement with much of what they need to navigate this new life phase. It was a book that resonated with me and what I do, and when I was in Boston in 2014, I got to meet Dori. I met up with her again in South Africa a couple of weeks ago, when she came to my home for dinner.
If you’ve had a life-planning meeting with me – or even read my book – you’ll see similar themes to Dori’s at play. On the front over of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle, the words “couple” and “conversation” are clearly visible. For me, these two words evoke an all-important concept: relationship. Underpinning so much of what I do is the assumption that relationship is the key that unlocks everything.
Relationships, in fact, are everything. There’s nothing like a relationship gone wrong – even just for a minute over one harsh word – to remind us that relationships are the cornerstone of our collective consciousness. When our relationships are off, so are we. Why will you call one friend before another when you’ve just been given wonderful news? Why would you share with one family member in particular when your test results come back from your doctor? It’s the nuances of our relationships that dictate that. Our lives are all about relationships: everything around you, from the photos on your wall to your phone that’s about to ring, reflects the fact that you’re in relationships.
And just as we have relationships with people, so we have a relationship with money. It’s already a clichéd idea – that we have a relationship with money. But cliché or not, it’s absolutely true. Dori writes: “Although money is one of the most important topics of conversation … it tends to be ‘taboo’, along with sex and death. Talking about money can bring up feelings of shame, guilt and confusion … Whether or not you are aware of the covert messages you received about money, the emotional residue can have a powerful impact on attitudes and beliefs.” I see clients’ relationships with money playing themselves out in my meetings over and over again. Talking about money evokes memories about money and as a result, I’m a witness to my clients’ anger and fear, elation and joy. Money might as well be a person – sitting right there in the room with us – so real is he. So, my question to you is: if money were a person, would he be a bogeyman or your best friend?
Your answer to that seemingly silly question will tell you a lot about your relationship with money. You might remember where you were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon or when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Well, it’s exactly the same with money. Imagine money as a person. When did you meet him for the first time? What did you think of him? What feelings does he evoke in you right now? My first memory with money taught me that people with money have choices. Money for me is an enabler and ensures I have the freedom to choose where I live, where I work and whom I am in a relationship with.
My feelings about money tell me about my relationship with money.
Today, money isn’t my foe. Money is my friend. Having money as your friend has very little to do with having money. It’s about having money where money belongs – and not as an angry memory lying in wait to pounce on you or as dashed dreams, hovering over you like dark clouds of disappointment. But it’s taken time for me to get to where I’ve been able to put money into perspective for myself – to have this money persona slot into the right spot in my life.
So, who is money to you? Something to be scared of? Someone you want to pick a fight with? Or is money a friend to you on the journey of life that lies ahead? Just like the relationships in your life that are the most important, it’s worth giving some time to this one too.