Owning Your Money Story

By Brittni Barcase

Our thoughts and behaviors around money are deeply rooted in our upbringing. How your family spoke, or didn’t speak, about money around you, their habits on spending, if there was financial struggle or instability that you feared.

Owning your money story is the starting point of financial wellness. Tackling this first step will help you feel empowered in your own story and start to recognize habits and patterns you are holding onto, and then you can decide what to keep and what to let go of.

The first step in owning your money story is to sit down, take a deep breath, and repeat this mantra to yourself: “I am safe. My feet are on the ground. I am in control of my decisions.”

Now, for the second step, grab a pen and paper and ask yourself the following questions:

  • As a kid, what money messages did you get from your mom? Dad? Relatives? Friends?
  • As a kid, did you think your family had enough money? Why did you think that?
  • Are there any money messages from your childhood you still carry with you?
  • Are any of your childhood money messages relevant to your life now?
  • What is one harmful childhood money message you are ready to let go of?
  • How much money would you need right now to feel financially secure?
  • How would that much money change your life?
  • How would that much money change who you are as a person?
  • What are you willing to do to get that much money? What are you not willing to do?
  • These questions hold a lot of weight, so really take time to reflect on each of them. Once you’ve answered them, go back and re-read what you wrote. Does anything surprise you? Does anything show up that you weren’t fully aware of before? Is there anything you want to explore more?

Now that you have reflected on your money story, you can start to own it and find empowerment in taking your story back. So often we are afraid of our own thoughts and past stories that instead of looking in the dark corner of our mind to address them, we push them away because they are too scary to deal with. These questions are a great starting point so you can start to shine a light into that dark corner.

Your money story becomes your belief system that drives your financial behavior (your thoughts, feelings, and behavior toward money). It’s complicated, but not impossible to understand and own. The journal prompts above will help you increase your self-awareness around your money thoughts, which can then help you to reduce life-limiting thoughts and feelings around money. This is where you find empowerment to believe in yourself more and encourage yourself to do the work to improve your financial health.

The Financial Wellness Program offered by JCS is an individualized, goal-oriented service that empowers people to build healthier relationships with money. Learn more at jcsbalt.org/financial-wellness.

Originally posted on The Mental Well blog site, an initiative of JCS Prevention & Wellness.

Brittni Barcase Brittni Barcase is a Certified Financial Social Work Educator and Manager of Prevention & Wellness at Jewish Community Services.

Jewish Community Services (JCS) provides programs and services for people of all ages and backgrounds, helping them achieve their goals, enhance their wellbeing, and maximize their independence. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or 410-466-9200.

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