Challenge - How Do I Feel About Money?

Examining your underlying thoughts and beliefs about money could help you understand the motives that guide your behavior.

Young woman with magnifying glass to her eye.

We all have a complex relationship with money -- it's a subject that touches just about every facet of our lives. The lack of money is one of the chief causes of divorce and relationship stress. Financial problems can undermine our performance at work and eat away at our physical and mental well-being.

With stakes like those, it's no wonder people often think and act irrationally when finances are involved.

It's important to realize, however, that complex doesn't necessarily mean unhealthy. If your fundamental, underlying attitudes and beliefs about money are sound, the chances are good that your financial outcomes will be favorable. On the other hand, if cognitive biases and irrational thinking dominate your beliefs about money, trouble is likely to follow.

Challenge of The Week: "How Do I Feel About Money?"

This week, we encourage you to take a few minutes to do something most people never will: rigorously examine your underlying thoughts and beliefs about money. This writing exercise will help you define how you truly feel about money, thereby shining some light on the sometimes mysterious motives that guide our behavior.

Pen and paper work best for this exercise.  A recent Princeton University study showed that students who wrote things down on paper learned more effectively than those who typed notes on laptops.

Once you're ready to begin, consider answering the following questions:

  • Do I believe money will make me happy?
  • Have I become happier as I've become wealthier?
  • How does money influence my perception of self-worth?
  • Do I make rational decisions where money is concerned?
  • Do I repeat the same financial mistakes over and over?
  • Are my financial decisions governed by emotion or reason?

Once you've explored these questions and any others you find relevant, consider how your beliefs about money have influenced your behavior, for better or worse. The goal is a thorough, relentlessly honest self-appraisal. By doing this, you can potentially uncover faulty assumptions and mistaken beliefs that have been hampering your ability to make rational financial decisions.