Money is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives. It plays a crucial role in our ability to meet our basic needs and wants. It is often considered a measure of success and security. However, our relationship with money can be complex and nuanced. It is based on behaviours, and not on technical knowledge. It has the potential to affect our social relationships, and our general well-being.

Everyone has a complex relationship when it comes to money. How you acquire, spend and manage money is mainly due to your childhood experiences linked to money, your values, and the way in which you organise this information in your mind. For example, you might donate more to the church if you value religion, or save more for tuition if you value education more.

Not a matter of complex formulae and spreadsheets

The way we feel about money is a spectrum There are two extremes of financial insecurity. You can be exceedingly frugal and concerned about the relative scarcity of your means on the one hand, and a very impulsive spender on the other. We all analyse and organise financial messages in different ways, and we also exhibit different financial behaviours thus we need to find our own personal balance in the middle.

Excellent money management depends more on your everyday sound judgments and behaviour than on your technical knowledge. It is independent of your qualifications, job title, or income level.

Developing a Financial Style

We’ve been inundated with messages about money ever since we were toddlers. Even people brought up in the same home can develop diverse opinions on money, or their relationship to it. Studies have shown that people begin to develop a relationship with money as early as age seven, however, your financial style may alter over time, or as a result of external factors. Someone who has had a life-changing episode is likely to have changed their perspective on money. Suppose you have a near-death experience, for example. In that case, you might give up the “saving” mentality, and start spending on special occasions to maximise your life experiences. Similar to how a child’s birth may encourage you to start saving.

Following is a discussion of the three dimensions of money. Typically, the dimensions are unequal in perceived importance—you may place a higher value on acquisition than management. When evaluating these dimensions, think about where you fall on the spectrum. How can you improve your relationship with money?

The Acquisition Spectrum

The acquisition spectrum concerns how much money is required to feel secure, not how you get your wealth. Money is the “root of all evils,” according to some. Others contend that you can never have enough of it. You can have an avoidant, or an insatiable want for money, or you might fall somewhere in between. What is your position?

In the extreme, someone might breach the law to get more money. Even wealthy people are susceptible to the notion that “you can never have enough”.

The Spending Spectrum

When you have acquired money, the question of “what do you do with it?” arises. Most of us have heard tales of people who “penny-pinch” their entire lives, and pass away with a sizeable sum of money in the bank. Or you know stories of famous athletes who earn millions over the years, but end up broke.

The miser is on one end of the spending spectrum, and the compulsive spender is on the other. Most of us try to manage our finances sensibly, carefully, and purposefully; nevertheless, occasionally, we go through periods when our spending becomes “out of hand” or impulsive.

The Management Spectrum

Poor money management is common among compulsive spenders. But just like your purchasing and spending preferences, your approach to money management is also unique.

Money management includes all your finances, including how you handle investments and bill payments. The individual who is entirely unorganised with money, may put off paying bills, incur interest, and be uninformed of the state of their finances. In contrast, the micromanager must keep track of every cent.


Money can be a source of stress and anxiety. Many struggle to make ends meet, and the pressure to earn enough money to support ourselves and our families can be overwhelming. Additionally, the constant focus on acquiring and accumulating wealth can lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Money can also be a source of empowerment and freedom. It allows us to make choices and take control of our lives. It can enable us to pursue our passions, gain new experiences, and invest in our future. Additionally, having financial security can provide a sense of peace and well-being.

Social Relationships

Our upbringing, the surrounding environment, culture, and personal experiences shape our attitudes toward money, and these attitudes can have a significant impact on our financial behaviour. For example, some people may prioritise saving and investing, while others may prioritise spending and enjoying the present moment.

Another important aspect of our relationship with money is how it can impact our relationships with others. Money can be a source of tension and conflict in our personal and professional lives, especially if there are differences in income, spending habits, or financial goals. On the other hand, money can also be a source of generosity and support, as we use it to help those we care about.


From the above discussion, one can identify the importance of the relationship with money, and how it affects our lives. For this reason, one can immediately realise that we must break the taboo of not speaking about money with friends and relatives.

Furthermore, through this approach toward the meaning of the relationship with money, we can easily recognise that the need to get training in money management is independent of whatever technical qualifications or job title you might have. An early school leaver may well have better money management than a PhD graduate.

For this reason, employers, teachers and parents are responsible for ensuring that their dependents receive effective, up-to-date money management awareness sessions and training.


This article was written as part of the work done at JA Malta and the #fincap3000 campaign.( where JA Malta is training over 3000 adults in Money Management for free, thanks to a Future Skills programme by HSBC, through employers and other organisations. Contact JA Malta if you need more information.