Our core stories and experiences shape our financial belief systems.
I’ve never been a big financial planner or goal setter, but at the beginning of 2013, I decided to put myself on a budget. I admit it’s already the middle of February and I still need to set up my IRA deductions, but I did start a savings plan in the hopes of buying a house in the not-too distant future.
My main motivation for doing so is so I can be reunited with my dogs. It’s sadly cheaper to buy a home and pay a mortgage in the Twin Cities than it is to find a decent place to rent that will let you have two dogs. Why the dog hate, landlords?
Anyway, my new motivation, combined with a conversation that I had with my friend Jennifer Nelson about what we would do if we won a million dollars led me to peruse the article “It’s Not About the Money” and figure out what my financial archetype is.
Once I got over the feelings of irritation that being “typed” brought up, I answered Brent Kessel’s four questions.
I’m not motivated by money or status. I’m motivated by relationships. Those are two things I knew about myself going in, and Kessel argues that in order to have a healthy financial life, you need to examine your core story and since I LOVE stories that was an excellent motivator.
Answering his four questions was pretty insightful.
1. What is your most painful memory related to money?
My sister and I have had a falling out over money. We are no longer on speaking terms because of this situation.
2. What is your biggest fear about money?
I have two main “fears” or beliefs systems about money:
a. That fighting over money has the power to destroy relationships.
b. That having a lot of money leads to having access to more power and those two things often lead people to want more money and power thereby leading them to make decisions that harm others and the environment.
3. What were you taught was important about money?
My mom was my main parental figure and she taught me that if I wanted something, I was going to have to get a job to buy it for myself. I wasn’t supposed to ask her or anyone for anything. My mom told me once in an ominous tone: “never borrow money from anyone.” In fact, she instilled me with the notion that it’s isn’t polite to talk about money. When I was young, money was definitely tight. There were trips to pawn shops to sell things. And, we often purchased bigger things — such as sofas and dining sets — on lay-away. Is this sort of arrangement an option anymore?
4. When have you been most positively or negatively moved by money?
I like spending money on travel, taking classes, going to concerts or taking in events that allow me to experience something rather than ending up with an item. I also like to donate to causes or help other people, particularly if a friend or family member is involved in the fundraising.
After answering the questions and reading the types, I’d say I’m most like “The Idealist” and that I definitely place value on creativity, social justice or spiritual growth.
I also see a lot of “The Innocent” in my story. I definitely avoid putting too much attention on money and hope that things will simply “work out.” I definitely learned that lesson from my mom about it not being polite to talk about money. A couple weeks ago, my friend Karen was asking me if I had a conversation about money that I was avoiding and when I explained how the conversation “sorta happened,” she teased me: “Well, good to see you really pressed the issue.”
Ok, ok. I realize I have some work to do to overcome the lessons I’ve internalized about money. The good news is that some of what I have learned may be valuable as Kessel argues that we all need a balance of each archetype in order to find financial peace. Or, as he says “We are free when we move from a focus on getting love, abundance, peace and freedom to being love, abundance, peace and freedom.”
I’m starting my journey to being love, abundance, peace and freedom by cultivating more aspects of “The Saver” into my financial accounts this year. Then maybe I’ll feel more confident in being “The Empire Builder.”
What’s YOUR financial archetype?
Heidi Wachter is the Community Engagement Specialist for Experience Life.