The way we use our money tells a story about us. It tells others what we like and what we think is important. Just ask a personal banker about how different people use their money. The stories money tells are captivating. So what is your money saying about you?
When we pay our bills or spend our money, we may not see the messages right away. In many ways, the story of our lives can be traced through our bank accounts and where our money goes. First jobs, college educations, weddings, babies, new jobs, lost jobs, houses, moves, illness, and celebrations are all recorded in the story of our money. Sometimes it is simply reflecting the ebb and flow and seasons of life. But even in different seasons, our money reflects our values.
My values in life are never more clear to me than when I do a serious review of how I spend my time and how I spend my money. For instance, last year my husband and I were revising our budget to make room for other expenses. When we started taking a closer look at where money was allocated, we realized we spent thousands of dollars each year paying for activities for our kids (music lessons, ballet, gymnastics, and more). We had to ask the question: Are these expenses necessary or can we scale back or eliminate them?
In order to answer the question, we had to consider our values. How much do we value ballet class? Are cello lessons important? In the face of the reality of how much it costs, we had to decide whether these expenditures were important enough to continue putting our money there. These expenses are put into perspective even more when we have to acknowledge what we’re saying no to in order to keep these items in the budget. There are many activities we don’t do (like fancy vacations) and items we can’t have to make room for these pursuits for our children.
With every bill we pay or purchase we make, we are defining our values and creating our lives. Some values we may take for granted, like paying our rent or our mortgage, but even that tells a story about who we are. For instance, are we paying extra on a loan to pay it off faster? Are we saving money for a special occasion or major purchase? Each choice we make with our money reflects our goals and direction.
Taking charge of our money is one of the fastest and most powerful ways we can regain a sense of control in our lives. This may mean paying off a debt or deciding the dream vacation really is worth it. Either way, money tells a story about what is meaningful, what is worth pursuing, and what we want out of life. What is your money saying about you?
We want to know your story. How has changing the way you spend money changed your life?