What’s your money story? – Value
Knowing your money story is powerful. Once you have a better grasp of the factors and experiences that shape your relationship with money, you can identify barriers and knowledge gaps more effectively
Photo courtesy Unsplash / Josh Appel
My father didn’t go to college and my mother went to Louisiana State University – together they raised five children and taught us the importance of hard work and thrift. When I started college, I remember my father asking, “What does $ 3 a day sound like for your entertainment, your food, and everything else?” I said, “Sure.”
When I started studying at Emory University, I realized pretty quickly that $ 3 a day would not be enough to make ends meet. To earn a few dollars more, I started working part-time as a campus tour guide at my college’s admissions office. This is one of my first money stories.
The part-time admissions job took me to a network of peers and took me to a career in college admissions – and later advancement – creating a path that I followed for many years. For me, my work in fundraising at a women’s college has reinforced the fact that many women do not have the financial resources and decision-making power over their money, as many men do. When a trusted mentor invited me to his investment firm, I saw an opportunity to fill that gap. I was committed to empowering women with the mindset and skills to develop their money skills – a passion that will remain my life’s work. This effort to ensure women have access to information about money has taken many forms, including my podcast Money stories with LDT.
That’s amazing to me 61 percent of women would rather talk about anything but money, even death. Normalizing conversations about money gives us confidence and control over our futures and helps us forge connections that lead to financial security and with the kind of impact we seek and deserve. It starts with understanding our relationship with money – our money story.
Define a monetary story
Your Money Story includes personal experiences, beliefs, and goals that shape how you feel and how you act when it comes to money. Our money stories, which are formed at a young age, develop with us. In my example above, my money story started with my family’s values ââabout work and money, which drove me into a part-time job that over four decades has grown into my current focus on advancing financial literacy for women and families.
On my podcast, I’ve spoken to women at different stages of their careers and lives, and each has been uniquely shaped by their own money stories. One of the first questions I ask is, âHow did you first learn about money?â Farnoosh Torabi, host of the So money Podcast shared with me on her Money stories with LDT episode that her family was “very transparent with their own financial life” when their father took them to the bank and introduced them to his banker. Your Agenda CEO Rhonesha Byng shared in the podcast that her mother didn’t talk about money, but always worked so long that Rhonesha felt âguiltyâ when they had to spend money. Theresa Edy-Kiene, CEO of Girl Scouts Greater LA, told us that their first experience with money was that their parents spend it all when they had it, and when they didn’t, their “quality of life” deteriorated.
Money stories have a deep impact on our relationship with money, which in turn influences our career choices, family choices, and more. How did your parents or family talk about money? What is your earliest memory of money and how does that relate to your financial decisions today?
Why it matters
Knowing your money story is powerful. Once you have a better grasp of the factors and experiences that shape your relationship with money, you can more effectively identify barriers and knowledge gaps. Setting ambitious financial goals will help you make more informed decisions and ultimately gain a better sense of control – while at the same time building connections that can lead to more knowledge or wealth. As you learn your money story, you will be better prepared to find the information, mentors, and resources you need to make your decisions more impactful.
As with other skills, the more you gain knowledge about money, the stronger and more confident you will feel dealing with money-related topics. It is estimated that 90 percent of women have to assume the role of sole financial decision maker at some point in their life, underscoring the need to be prepared for the likely assumption of that responsibility. Let’s not forget that money is a cornerstone of social impact. Use your Money Story to find out how best to make a difference – for yourself, your family, the community, and society.
How to discover your monetary history
Just as we can share strategies for achieving professional or personal goals, your money story journey doesn’t have to start in isolation. In fact, I would recommend doing this work with your family, friends, or a professional network that you are a part of. This is a way to connect with each other and put into words your memories, mindsets, milestones, and pursuits related to money.
Start by sharing your earliest memories of money and how they feed into your approach today. Think about money milestones in your life and how your attitude towards money has evolved over the years. These conversations are not to be understood as a measure of value. Rather, it is an opportunity to bring the power of connection into our financial lives and to build our connections as a community. I recently started running Money Stories workshops to guide groups through these conversations.
Our money stories are diverse and unique to each of us. That is the beauty of everything, and it will make your financial journey enriching because you know why you want the things you want and what drives you to achieve your goals. This knowledge can ensure that you bring these skills and insights into your own family so that the next generation has a healthy and confident relationship with money.