Karen Lee, author of the new book "It's Just Money, So Why Does It Cause So Many Problems?" spoke to members of the Thursday morning about learning to have a healthier and happier financial life.
What it often times comes down to, she said, is your relationship with money, not your job or how much you make that is most important.
Lee's speech was timely considering a recent report by the Atlanta Business Chronicle stating that Atlanta is one of the most financially stressed cities in the country. As a Certified Financial Planner and regular contributor to CNN and other media outlets concerning finance, Lee learned early in life that saving is important as she grew up in a financially strapped family.
How you are raised, she said, can greatly affect how you learn to spend or hold onto to your money. Among her many clients have been those that make plenty of money but are in severe debt by spending too much or those that have more than enough but are afraid to spend. Oftentimes, Lee said she has found that people who make less have found a better balance.
"I have clients who earn a million a year or more that are not as on track to reach their financial goals as some of my clients that make 60 or 70K," she said.
Lee herself is still trying to find balance, however, in learning to let go and enjoy what she has earned because of her upbringing. Even though she was a self-made millionaire by age 37, she has a hard time spending the money she worked so hard to earn.
"Our relationship with money is something that has been formed from early childhood all the way through today with the different things in our lives that have affected us financially, she said, "Its very hard to get over the things that are deeply ingrained"
So how does Lee think that someone is able to get to a healthy and perhaps more importantly, happy life financially?
Essentially, understanding the baggage you carry in regards to your relationship with money is the first major step to achieving this goal. Once you understand why you make the decisions with money that you do, a sound plan can then be put in place to strike a healthy balance and achieve your goals, she said.
"People can't follow the plan if they can't understand why they do what they do."
Changing ingrained habits is not easy, Lee admits, but she is confident that understanding your relationship to money is the key to achieving a financial balance. Money is a huge stressor in the lives of Atlantans and relieving this tension can be the key to no only financial happiness, but happiness in general.
"Everyone deserves to have financial peace of mind," she said. "Everyone deserves to have the life that they dream of that they are working hard for. The American dream is alive and well, it just takes a little discipline."