How to Develop an Extremely Healthy Relationship With Money

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.” — William Irvine

I’m making more money than ever before.

This year is the first time I’m ever going to break six-figures. A few months ago was the first time I ever made $10,000 in a single month in my business. Are you kidding me?

But I’m also learning that I need to be very, very careful with money.

Ever since 2007, I’ve been studying money. In 2006, my dad made over a million dollars through his construction business. But in 2007, the recession hit our family hard — we went broke, bankrupt, and lost everything almost overnight. I went from having my own car in our huge house to taking the bus while we crammed in my grandpa’s tiny townhouse.

In some ways, I’m really scared of money.

I’m scared that too much of it, too quickly, would destroy me.

But now, I respect money. I see money like the ocean — it’s dangerous and could kill you, but it’s beautiful if you respect it. After going broke and clawing my way out of tens of thousands of dollars of my own debt, I feel like I finally have a really healthy relationship with money.

But not everyone understands money, and it’s either keeping them broke, or setting them up for disaster if the money ever does come.

A friend of mine had a horrible accident while on a Lyft ride. After he stepped out of the car, the Lyft driver accidentally reversed and ran over my friend’s ankle. My friend told me his lawyer recently said they might earn around $200,000 in the settlement.

I had two reactions when I heard that number.

First, an unhealthy reaction:


What?! You’re going to get $200,000 dollars just like that?? Gimme some!

But second, and more healthy: I felt scared for him.

I felt scared he wouldn’t be ready for what would come with that money. As George S. Clason wrote in The Richest Man in Babylon, unearned gold either makes careless spenders who develop insatiable tastes, or hoarding misers who know they don’t possess the ability to replace it.

We all know most lottery ticket winners often experience terrible upheaval in their lives, blowing all their money in a few years as they watch their lives disintegrate.

We know young athletes, music artists, and rock stars often find themselves bankrupt and depressed only a few years after signing their $40 million dollar contract.

If you are not ready for the money, it can destroy you.

There’s a reason Jesus talked more about money in the Bible than almost all other topic. If you don’t have an extremely healthy relationship with money, you might lose everything.

I’ve spent many years studying how to handle money and use it make your (and your family’s) life much better.

Here’s how to have an extremely healthy relationship with money.

Treat Money Like the Ocean — Respect It, Because It Could Kill You.

A sudden $10 million dollars in your pocket right now would probably destroy you.

Your goal shouldn’t be to earn millions of dollars all at once. A sudden influx of cash has destroyed many lives, while many people have wasted their life chasing that goal.

Instead, you should focus on earning your fortune a bit at a time, growing only as fast as you’re learning. Another lesson from The Richest Man in Babylon that I know so well, I’ve practically memorized it:

“This is the process by which wealth is accumulated; first in small sums, then in larger ones as a man learns and becomes more capable.”

I once heard someone say, “If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at who He gives it to.” The great Roman Emperor once wrote that if you want to harm someone, just give them a lot of money and watch them let it ruin their lives.

If you don’t respect money, it could destroy you.

For a long time, I wanted “a lot of money.” I wanted a lot of things — a flashy sports car, the latest gadgets, fame and fortune and a million followers who adored me.

But if I really thought about it, those things didn’t really matter. Becoming a New York Times best-selling author wouldn’t really make me happy. Being on the cover of Forbes doesn’t really matter to me. Who would I brag to? My friends? My wife?

I learned that what I really wanted was freedom. Freedom to spend my time how I wanted. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the life money could provide. And honestly, I didn’t need that much money to have my ideal life.

You’ve probably read Jim Carrey’s famous quote, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Of course, people will say, “Well, it’s easy for you to say that, you have a gazillion dollars.” But my response is, who else could say that? Who else has the experience to actually say that and know what they’re talking about?

It’s not about the money, it’s about respecting money enough to use it wisely and get the life you want. You’ll probably find your ideal life doesn’t cost as much as you think.

“It’s absurd that we would prioritize the hottest new device, the cool car, or trendy toy over owning that which makes us feel the most engaged and most alive.” -Neil Patel

Determine What You Most Want Now. Then, When the Money Comes, You Won’t Be Tempted or Confused.

Right as Snapchat started to become really popular, Google apparently offered founder Evan Speigel $3 billion dollars to acquire the app.

Spiegel thought about the offer, and thought about what he’d do with the money.

First, he knew he wanted a new laptop. He also thought a nice island vacation would be nice. Finally, he wanted a nice car to drive around.

Beyond that, Spiegel really had no other ideas for spending the money.

He turned the offer down. He didn’t need that much money; besides, he’d rather keep working on his app he created.

Determine what you want most now. What really matters to you?

Make a list. Here’s one I wrote just now:

  • I want to travel the world with my family whenever I want.
  • I want a nice big desk and awesome computer.
  • I want a big house for my family.
  • I want some nice new clothes.
  • I want to create college funds for my daughter and retirement funds for my wife and I.

And…that’s really it. I don’t want or need much. I love what the great philosopher Epictetus wrote thousands of years ago, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

I told my wife that other day that if I suddenly got $20,000 in one single day (which is getting more and more likely for my work), I wouldn’t even know what to do with it.

She grinned and joked that she’d know how to spend it. But at the end of the day, we both know what we want. We don’t have any dreams of a six-figure shopping spree or buying shiny Ferraris.

This has given us a lot of peace. Even if a huge influx of money came in, we’re ready. We’ve spent time preparing for that, and if that ever happens (maybe it won’t, and that’s fine too), we already know what we’d do.

See, if you don’t determine now what you’ll do with a lot of money, you’re far more likely to slip into buying all kinds of things to impress people and do what you think you’re “supposed” to do with your fortune.

If you look at any of the countless public icons who went flat broke after earning tens of millions of dollars, the reason they went broke is usually basically the same:

They spent their money on things they shouldn’t have bought.

Mansions, cars, jewelry, and appearance-elevating accessories. Sure, these attract attention (and a host of fair-weather friends hoping for a cut). They might make you feel good.

But it’s one of the fastest ways to blow your money and waste a potential once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Best-selling finance author Dave Ramsey once joked that “The typical millionaire lives in a middle-class home, drives a two-year-old or older paid-for car, and buys blue jeans at Wal-Mart.” According to Thomas Stanley’s book The Millionaire Next Door, most millionaires lead mostly simple lives, carefully using their money like a tool.

These people were ready to become millionaires years before they money ever came.

Determine now what you’d do with the money.

In Conclusion

My friend who’s on track to get a $200,000 settlement check told me he’s already had family members ask for some of it when it comes in.

How horrible is that?

He told me he’s considering putting most of it in a trust fund he can’t touch for a long time. I told him that was a great idea — learn how to handle the money first.

As Jim Rohn once said, “The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you become to become to become a millionaire.” The person you become as you earn a fortune is infinitely more important than the money itself.

A lot of money can be really dangerous, but it could also transform your and your family’s life in the best possible ways.

You have to respect money, and learn the true price of your ideal life. You’d be surprised how cheap it might actually cost.

Determine now who you are, and what you want your life to look like. Then, you’ll be totally prepared for when the money does come.

Ready To Level-Up?

If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.

Click here to get the checklist now!

Written by

Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store