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Feb 14, 2022
Personal Finance

Redefine Your Relationship With Money

Our relationship with money is complex to say the least. 


Our view of money is built upon a foundation of our individual lived experiences and observations, influenced by cultural references and family dynamics. Perhaps we’ve adopted the belief that money is a reflection of our value to others, or perhaps it’s a reflection of our status or the power we wield. For some, money may merely be a transactional medium to get that thing that we want. Whatever they are, our views of money are incorporated into our identities, and are as unique to each of us as our personalities. 


For many, especially here in the US, there is at least one common thread that binds our relationship with money, and that is a belief that it shouldn't be talked about. From an early age and carried through adulthood, many of us are led to believe that the subject of money is taboo, off-limits for discussion at gatherings among friends and family. This learned interpretation may be so strong that when the subject of money comes up, we might be quick to change the topic, or to downplay the important role it plays within our lives.


However, this isn’t true in all cultures; and redefining our relationship with money and understanding its role in our own lives – as well as its larger role in society – is a critical step toward creating a more just and resilient world for all of us to live in. 


Money isn’t off-limits 

The lack of oxygen we give to any topic reinforces the discomfort or anxiety we may feel from it. The first step to redefining our relationship with money is to better understand our current belief structure or misgivings relating to it. And that means we need to talk about it.


Bring the concept of money out into the open. If the topic leads to anxiety, talk about that anxiety in order to better understand it. In the timeless motto of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle,” so the first step in redefining your relationship with money is to examine it.


Money is a tool

In our culture, money is often portrayed as an end in itself; but money isn’t the end, it’s the means. Money is a tool that we can use to fulfill basic needs like food, water and shelter, or to support and amplify the things that bring us joy – like music, gatherings or experiences. 


Money is a tool we may be able to use to turn our hopes, desires and dreams into reality. Those dreams are typically focused on the advancement or protection of ourselves, our loved ones or our community. 


Money as a force for regeneration, not destruction

Money can even be healing. 


There are few of us who would wish to use our money at the expense of someone or something else. Whether we’re fulfilling basic needs for ourselves or loved ones, splurging on a new toy or saving for a dream home or vacation, we’re almost certainly using money to create value in our own lives or the lives of others, rather than with the intention of destroying that value.


Embrace that sentiment with how you shop, save and invest and you’ll start to realize how much positive benefit money can create in the world if used intentionally. 


How to intentionally align your money for positive change 

Unfortunately, many banks today – the places we entrust with our money – exploit the taboo on talking about it. They use our deposits to fund industries and projects that are harmful, or unethical, and we are left in the dark. 


Luckily, that’s all changing. A group of wonderful non-profits now publish an annual report examining exactly how the biggest banks invest in climate devastation. And though reports like these focus on the fossil fuel industry, there are countless examples of other extractive industries that are also being funded with our dollars. 


That’s the bad news. The good news is, there’s now an alternative.


Atmos Financial is a public benefit banking-services provider built from the ground up to address the climate crisis. Atmos offers FDIC-insured, cash-back checking and high-yield savings accounts for individuals, and invests 100% of every dollar deposited into projects that reduce climate emissions. When you bank with Atmos, you’re fighting climate change as you sleep, swipe or save. Atmos has no minimum balance and provides a fee-free platform for donating to climate-protecting non-profits.  Atmos offers best-in-class rates -- and doubles them when you use your account to donate on a regular basis.


There are no hidden fees, and no hidden agendas. We are using money to build a better, more just, clean energy economy. Period.


So the next time money comes up in conversation, don’t change the topic. Explore what it means to you – and talk about all the ways you’d like to see it working for good in the world. Like Dr. Katharine Hayhoe often says about climate change: the most important thing you can do is to talk about it.


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