Sometimes, as we consider the best way to save — or spend — our money, it helps to consider what motivates our finances. Everyone has their own money motivations. These are reasons that we make the financial decisions that we do. Understand ourselves can be a great help as we move forward. When you understand what motivates you financially, you can make decisions that will ultimately result in greater satisfaction for you. Or you can change the way you do things in order to match what you want to become.
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What Motivates You?
One of the the first things you need to do as you determine your financial goals is to decide what motivates you. Look at the way you interact with money to determine your money personality. Also, examine your spending to find patterns. You will be able to get an idea of what your motivation is. Here are some of the motivations you might discover as you examine your financial habits:
- Survival: In many cases, the way you use your money has to do with survival. Food, shelter and clothing are all necessities. If you spend money on the necessities, and don’t have room for much else, you are likely in survival mode. Or, you might find enjoyment in simple pleasures, and find that you don’t need to make more money to have access to things.
- Helping others: Some enjoy helping others. They want to help their children, help the less fortunate, and help friends and relatives. Do you like to direct your financial resources toward others?
- Comfort: Do you like to spend your money on things that will make you comfortable? Many people enjoy buying items that increase the beauty and comfort of their homes. My husband likes to be at home, and he likes to be comfortable. As a result, our furniture purchases reflect that desire, rather than conforming to a specific aesthetic, or price.
- Status: Perhaps money is the end, rather than a means to one. In some cases, spending money on the latest gadgets, or amassing wealth, help you feel as though you have achieved some sort of status. The desire to impress can also be a power motivator to give to philanthropic causes.
- Stability: If you prefer to save for the future, and reduce your obligations, you might be seeking stability. Financial stability can be a powerful motivator for many.
- Entertainment: Financial decisions might also be motivated for purposes of entertainment. Do you like to entertain others at home? Perhaps you like to go to the movies regularly, or visit an amusement park. This motivation might lead you spend freely, or to save up for a big vacation.
- Experience: I love to travel. I set aside money for small trips. I also enjoy different and new experiences, so we try out new restaurants when they come to town, and we enjoy ethnic foods. When I can’t travel, I like to use my money to purchase books — providing a sort of vicarious experience.
You might have other motivations, or you might have a combination of motivations. It’s important, though, to understand how you feel about money, and what you expect it to accomplish for you. Once you are clear on that, you can begin to create a plan that can help you accomplish your goals.
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.