What’s the first thing you do each day? What’s the first thing you do when you get home for the day? What’s the first thing you do when you receive your paycheck or social security check or other income?
How you answer each of these questions may also answer what is important to you. For example, I put my glasses on first thing in the morning because I can’t see otherwise. When I get home at the end of a work day, I greet my family and the dog because they are important to me. When our paycheck is deposited, the first withdrawal is our tithe to Bethesda. Each of these things are important and because of that they receive the priority of “first.”
You, of course, can and should answer these questions for yourself. But there is something else that I would like you to do. I would also like you to write a Personal Money Autobiography. If you are married, you each should do this and then compare your answers. It’s possible you will learn something new about your spouse. The following is from the ELCA program called Rediscover Macedonia:
Writing a personal money autobiography is an important step in expressing one’s stewardship journey. The process reveals one’s attitudes, behaviors and feelings about money. How does one go about writing a money autobiography? In this activity it is important to focus on different points in your life (childhood, adolescence, young adult, mature adult, etc.) Take a sheet or two of blank paper and write out your responses to the questions below. Reflect on these experiences and how specific understandings developed. After reflection you may want to write this into a chronological or topical sequence. Always be aware that money is only one aspect of being a steward.
- What is the earliest experience with money that you remember?
- As a child growing up, did you feel rich or poor? Why?
- What was your attitude toward money as a teenager? How was this influenced by peers or siblings?
- How were your attitudes and behaviors about money shaped by your mother, father or grandparents?
- What role did money play in your life as a young adult? How was this influenced by a spouse or co-workers?
- If applicable, how did your relationship with money change when you became a parent?
- What is your happiest memory in connection with money?
- What is your unhappiest memory in connection with money?
- How does your faith guide you in your use of money?
- How do you feel about your present financial status compared a the past status?
- How have you discovered that financial health is an expression of faith?
- Are you generous or stingy with your money? In what ways?
- How do you practice proportionate giving and tithing?
- When are you willing to give to the church and other causes with no strings attached?
- What kinds of risks are you willing to take with your money?
- What will you do with your money as you approach the end of this life?
The New Year is a good time to reflect on the things that we do first and it’s also a good time to reflect on our attitudes towards money. Our attitudes shape our actions so if you want to make a change, you have to first understand why you are doing things the way that you are. I am willing to have a conversation with you if you write your money autobiography and then think, so now what?
God’s Blessings to you in the New Year,