For years, those questions would have left me struggling to find an answer because I hadn't set clear financial goals. I was fortunate and earned enough to allow me to coast along yet save and have some investments, but none of it was properly managed or planned.
I spent money reactively. I invested based on what someone else told me I should do and then panicked or felt guilty for not doing it myself. I felt guilty for not having goals or a plan.
As a successful finance professional, how could I not be more in charge of what I was doing with my money? It was overwhelming, so I put it off. I simply didn’t know where to start.
So, where did I start eventually?
It wasn’t initially with my money. It was with myself.
Once I’d started to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, what was important to me and focused on my life rather than just coasting along or doing what I thought I should do, the money piece suddenly felt less daunting.
Have you ever heard the Elvis Presley quote: “Values are like finger prints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do?”
The first time anyone asked me what my core values were, I was sitting like a rabbit in headlights in a life coach’s office at an age I’d rather not admit.
Aren’t being kind, generous and a good person everyone’s values? What else is there, I thought. She had to talk me through what values actually are.
One definition says: “Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us to determine what is important to us.”
I learnt that when we live by our values, we are happier, more fulfilled and generally better humans.
It got me thinking about my choices in life, which led me to think about how I not only manage money but also my relationship with money.
Was I approaching money in line with my values?
We know money is power. It’s energy. It impacts in some way almost every decision we make every day. Doesn’t it make sense to consciously use that power to drive your life in the way you want, in line with your values and what’s important to you?
Now, when I review my credit card statement, it’s not only for accuracy and checking if I’m in line with my spending plan but also for reassurance that I am putting my money behind my goals, beliefs and values.
This is why I push against the one-shoe-fits-all approach to personal finance. Everyone's value systems are unique to them and they change over time.
It’s crucial to know yourself, what you want to achieve, what makes you happy, what brings you joy and then use the powerful energy of money to help you live that life.
Put your money behind your values and you’ll live happily ever after, right?
It’s not quite as simple as that. It’s a large piece of the puzzle, but it’s not just about our values. It’s also important to educate ourselves on ways to manage, invest, save and earn money.
When you have clear goals and believe in your reasons behind saving or investing, for example, then you will be more motivated to put the work in, to read the books or question the financial adviser who is telling you to invest in their product.
If you don’t invest in figuring out your personal values, understanding your money mindset and setting your goals and habits in line with those values, then you are at risk of living someone else’s ambitions for your life, not your own.
Have you ever thought about whether you use your money in line with your values? If not, why not?
If someone read your bank statement or credit card, would they know what is important to you? What do you want to achieve in life? What are your life goals?
I urge you to scan your credit card statement. What feelings does it trigger in you? Have a good think about why it does that. I think you may learn a lot about yourself.
Carol Glynn is the founder of Conscious Finance Coaching