What if I were to tell you that all of your money issues are in your head? This doesn't mean that they don't exist, it just means that you've made them up. How can I say that? It's simple. Money issues are rarely about money. They are almost always about what money represents to us.

I was recently giving a talk to a group of business owners about legacy planning and one was concerned that her costs for long-term care would affect the inheritance she planned to pass to her grandchildren. I asked her, what if her grandchildren didn't experience money the way she did? Obviously, this person had an expectation of what money meant and was passing on the money and the expectations to future generations. That's not about money. It's about status, position, security, legacy, fear, and many other things that she could not immediately describe. Things that were all in her head.

Understanding our deepest motives for our wishes helps us develop strategies that are aligned with those motives. For example, people often come in to our office expressing a desire to save on taxes, but why do they want to save on taxes? Do they feel they don't want to be taken advantage of by the government? Do they want to have more financial security or more disposable income? Do they want to feel that they are good stewards of their money? Do they to want to create the best environment for their family? The tactics become easy once we understand what is driving the decision. I have seen people unwillingly move out of state to save tax dollars at the expense of other priorities like community, access to health care, and being close to family.

Get your money issues out of your head by erasing the money piece and get clear on priorities. If you want to move, take time to write what you wish to experience from the move. More space is an outcome, not a reason. A reason is you want privacy. You want to be able to let your dog out back rather than having to walk him all winter. You can evaluate whether those are reasons enough to make a change. When we focus on the result instead of the reason, the money issues stay in our head.

Some couples argue about money when that is not the real issue at hand. The reason may be failed expectations or job frustrations. Money is the focal point because the things that are most important are too frightening or painful to discuss.

When you encounter a money issue, you can redirect your energy and ask yourself: Is this all in my head?

Spend your life wisely.

Ross Levin is the chief executive & founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.