1. Find out Where the Money is Going. Write down everything you spend for at least a month. By looking at where you spend, you can identify and evaluate your priorities.
2. Understand Your Background. Look at how money affected the family you came from to identify issues that affect your attitudes and behavior. Share and compare this background with your spouse or journal.
3. Examine Possible Changes and Check Out How They Might Feel. If you tend to overspend to feel good, try not eating out for thirty days, and not going to a store except to buy groceries. If you feel uncomfortable spending, try spending the extra $20 on what you really want, instead of making do with something cheaper. See if you can be okay with the change or examine how you avoid the change.
4. Examine Expectations. While doing the above, examine how comfortable you are with delaying gratification or giving in to it. Some people never find out that they can be okay with it, because they never try.
5. Develop a Personal or Couple’s Vision Statement. Look at your priorities, talk about what each of you really wants. Among couples, discuss what you thought the other wanted, and arrive at some concrete life choices you can live with.
6. Develop new strategies. Whether it’s trying a low risk investment, developing a debt repayment plan, building savings or changing spending habits, work with knowledgeable people who can suggest tactics that work for your situation.
7. Respect Differences about Money. Money is about sharing, determining what is yours, mine, ours. Even within ourselves we may live with differences and money conflicts. Try to tolerate the differences we have about money.
8. Honesty is the Best Policy. Be truthful with yourself and others about feelings and behavior, even through change. By committing to joint goals and accepting individual goals, and communicating regularly, deception subsides. Back sliding occurs in the best of us – deception only complicates progress.
9. Stick with it. It takes time for new behaviors to become ingrained and for results to be apparent. By staying the course, most people find there is less anxiety and more money over time.
10. Teach your kids what you have learned. It’s a gift that will last for generations!
Your Financial Autobiography
Understanding your history, family ideas, and expectations can help you gain perspective on why you feel certain ways about money and why you behave in certain ways. It may show you patterns you can change. It can also help you in conveying some financial truths about yourself to others.