One way to stay on top of your finances -- or to untangle them -- is to figure out what role money plays in your life. This lighthearted but revealing exercise can help you explore your beliefs.
First, ask yourself this question: If your money had a job title and description, what would it be? These four titles and their descriptions sum up the answers I hear most often in my practice as a life coach. Which role resonates the most with you?
Protects and maintains my well-being and my family's.
Motto: "Safety first; it's all fun and games until someone loses her retirement savings."
Makes me look good and feel lovable, valuable, confident, powerful.
Motto: "Without me, you're nothing."
Grants my wishes and funds my dreams.
Motto: "You can't take it with you, so live it up while you can."
Shows up in the nick of time, pays the bills and the rent, supplies the food, and lets me make it from paycheck to paycheck.
Motto: "Getting by is good enough."
Now give your money a performance review -- and start making changes if you want things to turn out differently.
1. Describe the Current Situation
Think about the job title you've bestowed on your money, consciously or not. If none of the four here strikes a chord, list all the things money does for (or to!) you right now. Do you notice a pattern or theme? What words and images immediately come to mind? See if you can come up with a motto. You may not be able to think of a catchy job title, and that's okay, as long as you're becoming mindful of your beliefs about money.
2. Figure Out What's Working
Using the current job description and the list you've made of how money affects your life, write down what's working well in your relationship with money, and what's not. If money is your Security Guard, maybe you're confident about retirement but feel deprived, as if your life is on hold until then.
3 Give Your Money a Promotion
Create a new job description for your cash, keeping the positive aspects of the old one. One of my clients who grew tired of living hand-to-mouth decided to give her money a bump up from Day Laborer to Production Assistant. It was still responsible for supporting her, but its tasks included planning for a richer future.
4. Set Clear New Goals for Yourself and Your Money
The aforementioned client, for example, wrote, "As my Production Assistant, I expect you to grow consistently over time so that together we can reach our target of financial freedom and abundance." Spell out what your responsibilities are. How will you help your money do its job? You may need to build skills and knowledge, commit to saving, or consult a financial planner.
Conduct regular performance reviews to take stock -- and to remind your money and yourself who's boss.
Debbie Lacy is a certified life coach in the Seattle area. Visit her at theinspiredcoach.com.
© 2014 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.