Establish your personal values and goals first
I’ve been reading Does Your Bag Have Holes?, by Cameron C. Taylor. I’ll have to say, it is probably one of the best Christian based personal finance books I have ever read. In one section, Cameron shares some financial wisdom from a friend:
“After nearly thirty years in the financial business and having associated with thousands of wealthy individuals, I have developed a firm philosophy about people and money. If an individual does not clearly establish personal values and goals before making financial goals, then wealth and the accumulation thereof will begin to take on a life of its own.”
Your personal values are the foundation of your decisions. They drive each and every decision we make, and establish the foundation of who we are and the directions we take in life. Matthew 7:24-27 talks about the wise and foolish builders:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Money can have a strong influence on our choices and the directions we take in life if we allow it. Money has a way of distracting us and pulling us away from the things in our lives that mean the most. Establishing your values and beliefs is like building your home’s foundation on rock. Not doing so, is the same as building your home’s foundation on sand.
Money can distract us
1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Whether we would like to admit it or not, money can have a strong influence on us and can easily cause us to waiver from our core values and beliefs. Many a good person has succumbed to greed and the lure of money, only to have their lives destroyed. Note that Timothy tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, not money itself. The issue isn’t about money, but the value we place on money.
Often, when people are asked to list or write down their values, they list money. If you consider money a value, ask yourself this question: What does money mean for me? The answer to this question will help you uncover the real core value, I can almost guarantee it isn’t money itself.
Your core values and beliefs
Establishing your core values and beliefs is a critical step in the path to financial freedom, and has Cameron’s friend reminded us establishing these core values and beliefs prior to setting financial goals is critical.
Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and ask yourself: What in life is important to me?
Begin writing down everything that comes to mind. Don’t spend too much time thinking through your answers, just write. Once you have the initial list, go back through and spend time thinking about each item you wrote down. Make sure you ask the question: “What does X mean for me?” to make sure you establish the true core set of beliefs and values.
Another great exercise you can do to establish your core values and beliefs is to write down a list of people you admire and a list of people you don’t. What qualities do each of these people exhibit that make you like/dis-like them. Those qualities can provide a deep insight into your own core values and beliefs.
Personal values first, financial goals second
Spend some time thinking through your core values and beliefs. Know them and understand them. Once you do, write them down. Writing them down will not only help you establish and remember them, but will also provide you with a list that you can re-read, reference and reflect on.
Each and every time you are presented with a financial decision, use your core values as the basis for making the financial decision. Once your core values are established, you can then move on to creating your financial goals, a critical step in getting control of your finances and beginning to the journey to financial freedom.
This article is part of an ongoing series called Money Saving Monday. Each Monday, I share tips and techniques you can use to start saving money.
Photo by: contemplativechristian