Just about everyone knows (or has heard) that how we handle money issues can make or break relationships. In fact, according to John Thyden, a Washington, D.C., divorce attorney, financial issues are the cause of 90 percent of his divorce cases. Yet, while much has been written about how to overcome or deal with differences in the ways we handle money, rarely do we examine and clarify our own financial values. If we don’t understand our own values — including their sources, benefits, and drawbacks — how can we expect to understand our partner’s?
This week’s journal writing prompts help you gain clarity and understanding about your money issues and values.
- What is your first memory about money? What happened and why do you remember it?
- What did your parents say about money and did their actions back up their words? List at least five things you remember hearing your parents say about money. Now list at least five things you remember about the way they handled money.
- Did your parents tend to agree or disagree with one another when it came to money issues? Were their money messages consistent or inconsistent? What was your reaction to their lessons? Which values did you internalize and which did you rebel against? How has that internalization/rebellion created tension about money in your life?
- What do you believe about money? Do you believe that it’s hard to come by? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with the idea of earning a lot of money? Do you feel deserving or undeserving when it comes to financial abundance? Do you resent those who have it? Freewrite for ten minutes about your beliefs regarding money. What, if anything, did you learn or notice about yourself as a result of your writing exploration?
- How would you like to feel about money? Write a letter to Money, as if Money were a person, telling him or her what kind of relationship you would like to have.
- When you think about discussing money with your partner or with someone close to you, what are your dominant emotions? Shame? Anger? Confusion? Anxiety? Satisfaction? Comfort? Name your emotions and then write about the money memories associated with them.
- Have fun with this one — if you were to suddenly receive 10 million dollars, and you had to spend it and/or invest it within 24 hours, what would you do with it? Be specific: if you plan to invest a portion of it, exactly where would you invest it? If you want to give some of it away, exactly to whom or what organization(s) would you give it? Account for every penny.
I invite you to leave a comment and share with us what you learned and/or what you would do with 10 million dollars.