It’s All About You … and Money
Let’s start our journey to financial independence and control with you learning more about yourself by writing your money autobiography (MA). Writing an MA is a great way to uncover the existence and origins of your behaviors and feelings concerning earning, investing, spending, giving, and even wasting money so that you can begin to make more conscious and intentional choices regarding how you use money. Since many of our feelings and behaviors about money are formed as we are growing up, this may entail redesigning some of those feelings and behaviors that may no longer be working for you. This step is so important because you can’t really expect to make good money, life, and work decisions if you don’t understand what you really want or the subconscious agendas that may keep you from getting it. For some people, there is a real disconnect between the story they play out in their head and the lives they actually lead, so it is important to do this exercise to get on the same page with your inner self, so that achieving financial independence becomes an easier task.
So what’s involved in writing your MA?
Start by setting aside some quiet time to reflect on your money story. Focus on actual events and specifics as well as your general feelings and relationships relating to money. Go back to your earliest memories and work your way forward. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out novel, but it should hit the highlights. Keep revisiting your MA until you develop a complete picture that separates what’s real for you from the ideas and behaviors of others. It’s not unusual to discover that some of the behaviors that might be holding you back are really ideas of others, such as a parent.
I have listed a few sample questions below to get you started. Use them, as appropriate, to begin to uncover the parts of your money story that may be helping or hurting your chances of achieving your goals. Then summarize the highlights so you can refer back to them as you grow your skills and become more deliberate in your choices about how you use your money.
• Growing up, who were your money management role models? What role did money play in your life? Did you consider yourself rich, poor, or something in between? Was money discussed in your family? How did your family discuss and express generosity?
• As a teenager, what was your attitude about money? Was it scare or abundant? Did you or your family worry about money?
• As an adult, what role does money play in your life today? Who are your money management role models? Who handles the money in your family? How is your money role like that of your mother’s? Your father’s? What do you tell your kids about money and what money vibes do you think they’re picking up from you?
Happy writing! Remember, those who don’t acknowledge and learn from their past are doomed to repeat it. This is your opportunity to get a clear picture of the behaviors that are driving you so you can take control and make them work for you.
Your discoveries may help others form a better picture of their past, so share your thoughts and leave me your comments below.
Patricia Stallworth, CFP® and CDFA, is the president of PS Worth, a financial education company, the author of Minding Your Money, and the host of the Minding Your Money Minute™. Learn more by visiting MindingYourMoney.net.