Your Financial Self-image

Perhaps as important as understanding financial ideas is understanding ourselves and our money attitudes, especially our financial self-image. We might call this our financial self or money self. Clearly our money attitudes strongly shape our decisions and consequently their results.

What Is Your Financial Self?

Your money self or financial self-image needs to be understood from two perspectives. The first is the opinion or view you have of yourself. The other consists of your money attitudes, the way you look at money management.

Your self-image relates to the way you value yourself. Most people do not think they are good enough or have the capacity to earn a good income or have significant possessions. This limiting self-image greatly limits their chances for financial achievement.

Money attitudes on the other hand affect the way you manage money. If you think debt is a handy tool for buying things rather than a dangerous and generally harmful condition to avoid unless absolutely necessary you are much less likely to ever have much money.

This article is not intended to tell you a lot about what your financial self or money self should be. Instead I want to share some ideas that can help you develop your understanding of what yours is like. Self-understanding is the beginning of personal growth.

Understanding Your Own Financial Self

There are two steps toward understanding your financial self-image. The first one is short term and the second is long term. The one can be accomplished over just a few days, possibly at one setting although it should not be rushed. The other is something that can profitably continue a lifetime.

1. Analyzing Your Money Self-Image

First you need a self analysis of your current attitudes and practices in the way you manage your money. This will involve reflecting on some of the issues raised by this process.

In preparation you may want to read over my article on the second law of money, The Law of Commitment, titled, Learning to Respect Money. Think about how this principle applies to your life.

The Law of Commitment: Money is a trust that we must choose to manage wisely, productively, and honorably for our own good, for our families, and for others.

Now take a sheet of paper and write at the top, “How I Think About My Self-image and My Money Today.” Write a paragraph or so answering each of these questions.

  1. How do I value my self-worth in terms of my ability to earn a good living and achieve a reasonable degree of wealth?
  2. To what extent do I recognize by ability to set and hold to good priorities in spending choices if I choose to?
  3. How much of a priority have I given in the past to savings for retirement, emergencies, and other important personal needs?
  4. Do I make financial choices based on what I really think is reasonable and best for myself or do I let others have more influence on my decisions than I should?
  5. What changes do I need to make in in my thinking in order to become a better manager of my money?
  6. Am I willing to recognize my choice of financial attitudes/habits as a more important responsibility than I have made it in the past.

2. Changing Your Financial Self-Image

The next step is to learn how to escape the inadequacies of the past and encourage positive progress in the future. Where we are now is important only as it helps us plan where we want to be tomorrow.

So on a second sheet of paper, or better yet in some sort of journal, write this title: “My Success With Money Journal.” What you want to record here is a personal story of your own thoughts, decisions, successes and failures in managing your money. You will want to add to it over time.

You’ve heard it before. Writing crystallizes thinking. It really is true. As you think through your daily wins and loses, record them. Write out new insights. Record any new commitments and later, as you apply them, your success putting them into practice.

This technique is very likely to become a key tool in helping you increase your rate of success. It has proven helpful in many other areas of life such as weight loss and career advancement. It will work here, too, sometimes with dramatic results.

Find a convenient place to keep your journal. At least once a month take time to review it and write a paragraph evaluating your current progress. Think about your financial self or money self and note any changes in your money attitudes.

Choose a Positive Financial Self-Image

Your financial self or money self is not your whole personality but an important part of it. Fortunately you can change your self-image and your money attitudes, sometimes by changing your thinking alone (when attitudes are not valid) and sometimes by changing what you are and do. Begin by understanding yourself and then make changes as appropriate.