Discover Your Financial Motivation

By | 2016-08-22

Before we started down the Financial Independence path, my only Financial Motivation was to earn more to buy more. We had the dream of being a millionaire just because we thought that made us “rich.” Saving and paying off debt were not even on our radar. Our lifestyle was working against our goals.

Picking an arbitrary number without any backing is not a great motivator. I still want to be a millionaire, but the number itself is not our financial motivation anymore. We are focussing on the things money can unlock, vs what it can buy.

An exercise from Smart Couples Finish Rich

The first Personal Finance book I read was The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. His book combined with Financial Samurai get credit for motivating us and our current financial situation.

After starting our financial overhaul, I started to look into David Bach’s other books and settled on Smart Couples Finish Rich. Mrs A.E. does not nerd out on personal finance like I do. This was my way of getting her involved in planning our future. We both read the book and wrote out our thoughts to each of the exercises.

I want to focus on one exercise specifically, Creating Your Own Value Circle. The main question you need to answer in this section is:

“What’s the purpose of money in your life?” – David Bach

We first went through this exercise around two and a half years ago, our results were almost the exact same. (so glad that I wrote these down and put them in the book). We did differ slightly on the order in which we listed them, but re-ordered them together after we shared our results and talked through the reasoning.

Our Financial Motivation

Security – Mrs. A.E. wrote down “Peace of Mind” and we decided security covered all of our thoughts for this value. Not long after this we started our Emergency Fund (almost fully funded!). We also put own our own home under this category, not because we think renting is unsafe, but because we both feel more comfortable in a house that is ours.

Family/Friends – 

We spend a lot of time with our Family and Friends and  don’t want money to be the reason we miss out on time with them. Going out to eat, vacations, ball games, and celebrating life events will always be a priority for us and our goals reflect that.

Mrs. A.E. specifically wrote out “prepare for children” under this bullet point. At the time of writing our goals down we were not ready financially or mentally for kids but we started laying financial groundwork.

Growth – We covered personal development and career growth under this bullet point. Now I can add the blog. While we are still focused on growing our careers, it is 100% financially related now. I specifically thought it would be cool to climb the corporate ladder back then but have pivoted.

Experiences – Our entire money spending philosophy has been formed around this value. Spend money on things that truly bring you happiness and systematically cut out the rest. We do need to carve out some more international travel, but we try new things whenever we can.

Freedom – This one is not a surprise for anyone who has read this site before. Financial Independence is now our main long term financial goal. This will be on our Financial Motivation list forever – once we are free, it will transition into maintaining freedom.

One thing that I found very interesting is how each one of our values ties into the other ones. Without security we can’t expand our family. Without Growth we aren’t able to pursue Freedom. All of our values are intertwined and I am glad Mrs. A.E. and I were able to combine and slightly alter our personal lists into a master list moving forward.

Why you need to find your Financial Motivation today

The longer you wait the longer you are deploying money that doesn’t align with your values. After you set your values, you can start working on short and long term goals to support them.

Money can cause a lot of problems in a relationship if you don’t agree on how it should be deployed. Develop a plan together now.

Take Aways:

This quote is at the end of the chapter:

“because you can’t plan where you want to go until you know where you are starting from”

If you haven’t defined money’s purpose in your life, take some time to find your values. If you are in a committed relationship, do these exercises together. Since I primarily manage our money, getting Mrs A.E. involved made sure our goals were aligned.

I highly recommend getting David Bach’s book and going through the exercises. The book is aimed at couples, but the majority of the exercises would benefit anyone.

Thanks to Matt @ Distilled Dollar for motivating me to finish this post after his review of Bach’s book, Smart Women Finish Rich. It was in my drafts folder way to long!

 

Some products that can help you:

Acorns: Acorns is an automation app that collects and invests your spare change when you make a purchase. I connected Acorns to my checking account and my credit card. If you are interested in trying it, you can use my referral code here (both of us will get $5 in our account)

Personal Capital: Personal Capital has a ton of great Free features, you can track your spending, net worth and even analyze your portfolio. It has top notch security and I am able to connect all of my accounts. Saves a ton of time! (I may be compensated if you use this link)

38 thoughts on “Discover Your Financial Motivation

  1. Brian @ Debt Discipline

    I’ll have to check out Bach’s books. I have not read them. Understanding your “Why” is an important first step. We have several reason. Stop living paycheck to paycheck, better prepare our children for their financial lives, and build memories with family and friends.

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Those are great “whys” and it sounds like you have already thought and aligned your values.

      Bach’s books are good, there are a few things I disagree with but the bulk of the principles are spot on!

      Reply
  2. Ms. Montana

    I gave a talk about the value’s circle about 6 years ago because I felt it was so important. We have come back to it a few times to make sure our values are becoming the end game goals. These kinds of conversations really help keep us on the same page and moving in the right direction. Financial independence is so much easy working together as a team.

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      That’s awesome that you gave talks on value circles, we defined got the most benefit out of that section in the book.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  3. L
    [email protected] Turtle

    I’ve read several of Bach’s books and even own Smart Women Finish Rich. He’s one of my favorite personal finance writers!

    This is something I need to do with Mr. Frugal Turtle. While I think we’re on the same page financially it’s always good to continue to talk about it. People change over time. Their values and priorities change. Better to find out now than being surprised down the road!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      I have been trying to get Mrs. AE to read that book, have heard great things about it.

      Even if you are on the same page it’s still worth going through the exercise, like you said, things change

      Reply
  4. G
    Graham @ Reverse The Crush

    Great Post!
    I love how you were able to break it down into categories of why it’s important. It’s not just about the money, it’s more about using it as a tool for a fulfilling life. I’ve read start late, finish rich by David Bach, but not the Automatic millionaire. Maybe it’s one I should check out.

    Also, I was honestly working on a post about having the right motivation behind choices just yesterday. It’s only about 700 words and still in draft right now. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      The money is still important, but like you said as a tool and not the end goal.

      Appreciate the read and comment and I will definitely check out your post once it breaks out of draft mode

      Reply
  5. Dollar Engineer

    Those are all great motivational reasons! I think I am pretty similar when it comes to what motivates me. I really enjoy spending time with my family/friends especially and would hate to be held back by money. Nice post AE!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Ye, I don’t like missing out on experience because of money – it ones of the reasons we don’t have a budget

      Reply
  6. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    I enjoyed Automatic Millionaire but I haven’t read his other books. I might have to take a look at them.

    I agree that it is important to find your “why”. The purpose for creating a better financial life is going to be the thing that motivates you throughout the journey. Without it, your chances of giving up along the way go up! Nice post!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      They are worth a read!

      Thanks for reading and commenting Thias – the Why definetely works as a better motivator

      Reply
  7. Latoya @ Life and a Budget

    This sounds like a great exercise. I need to get on this. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my lifestyle reflects my money values so this will go hand in hand.

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      We enjoyed it – Let me know if you give it a shot

      Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  8. S
    Sarah @ Couple of Sense

    It does sound like a great exercise! I’m going to take a look at this book for sure. My husband and I are pretty much aligned on our money values which works out since we run our site together. That would make for some odd moments on the podcast if we were totally polar opposites when it comes to money.
    I think the values you assign to money are so personal and that is what so many people forget. Would you go back and answer the value question again to see if you have changed your values?

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Haha, it would be pretty interesting to have a couples podcast with opposing view points.

      I think there will be value and doing the exercise again, especially when our financial position is completely secure.

      Reply
  9. TheMoneyMine

    Great post! I’m a firm believer that having a “why” for saving money is the most important thing to determine. Once you get this figured out, most of the obstacles along the way are easier to work around.
    I also started saving money “for fun” because maybe I’m a numbers geek, but it only really became powerful when I had a “why”. For me, it was seeing my uncle working for 40 years and get nothing for his retirement because his retirement savings were invested in his employer, who eventually went bankrupt.
    Working for 40 years and not get retirement? That was my motivation.
    It’s awesome that you found your why and discussed it with your wife. A financially aligned couple goes very far!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      That is a crappy situation, employers don’t take care of their employees anymore, also a good lesson in diversification.

      Not going to lie, I geek out over the numbers too – I love seeing how percentages interact and watching the growth.

      Appreciate the comment and read!

      Reply
  10. Dividends Down Under

    Sounds like a good book – I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m really pleased for you both that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. When you know why you’re doing something, it’s a much stronger motivator to get your goals completed.

    Tristan

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Thanks Tristan

      His books are pretty good if you find your Personal Finance stack getting low. The Automatic millionaire is entry level personal finance so there might not be a ton of new info. But the Couples book is pretty awesome regardless of level.

      Reply
  11. NZ Muse

    Security is my ‘why’ – feeling financially secure enough to not have daily stress about money, to have options!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Security is a huge one, we couldn’t think about many of our other values until that one was addressed.

      Thanks for the read!

      Reply
  12. Casey

    Great post! Even after just 4 years of working after college, me and the girlfriend are already going crazy thinking about working in the same corporate job for 30 years! Not for me at all! I like a little freedom to get creative and entrepreneurial. #1 motivation is for freedom to progress in any area of life. I’m already so thankful I was saving and investing diligently these past 4 years so I can actually take a leap and start my own business. Nothing as exciting as being your own boss–through all the ups and downs!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Totally agree Casey, being your own boss and starting a business is an awesome achievement. Big goal for me is to get out of the corporate world and work for myself.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  13. Jon @ Be Net Worthy

    Thanks for sharing AE, sounds like a good book and definitely a worthwhile exercise to go through with your wife to make sure you are both aligned! At this point in our lives, our goal is financial independence.

    I’m 46 married with two high-school aged kids and we are already in our “dream home.” So, it’s just about maintaining the lifestyle and maybe getting out of corporate America a little early.

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Thats a solid plan Jon, especially getting out of corporate America sooner than later. Sounds like you already knocked off a bunch of the things we are pursuing (Children, security) and are enjoying it

      Reply
  14. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    I’ve read The Automatic Millionaire and now I’m convinced my husband and I need to read Smart Couples Finish Rich. I love how you and your wife did the activities separately and then came together to discuss them (and it’s great that your purposes matched up so nicely!). Finding your financial motivation is definitely a necessity to reaching goals. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Its definetely worth the read – especially if you actually go through the exercises.

      I was initially surprised how close we were, but after discussing it made a lot more sense.

      Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Freedom is the ultimate goal for us as well

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  15. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    Great post! I agree that our motivation is even more important than the goal itself. Why will get us there, even when the how gets tough. That’s awesome you identified your values and what you’re willing to spend on vs. what’s not worth it. And that you started preparing financially for children before you were ready to have them.

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Thanks Kalie, I am a planner and didn’t want to be stressed out figuring out how to pay for everything that comes with kids. I am positive there will still be some surprises but hopefully we can take them in stride.

      Reply
  16. [email protected] Smarter Decisions

    I love your “why’s” here – and they are very similar to goals you would use to make important decisions in a decision model. Many of them never change (or change very little). You might re-order them in terms of importance at different times in life – but the exercise you did when you read the book was worth every minute you spent!

    Reply
  17. Financial Samurai

    I’ve read all of Bach’s books in my 20s. They were easy and fun to read. Did you read his latest book.. .or maybe it’s been 5 years where he talks about his divorce?

    Thanks for the shoutout btw! Appreciate it.

    My motivation was getting my a&& kicked at work right out of school. I knew I had to GTHO ASAP!

    Sam

    Reply
    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      For sure Sam! – Your site gets a lot of credit for our financial overhaul

      GTHO of the standard corporate workforce is my biggest long term goal

      I haven’t read that book but it might be worth a read based on all the advice he has giving on strong relationships over the years.

      Reply
  18. Z
    ZJ Thorne

    Anything that makes you take stock of your actual values is great. I’ll check out this book from the library. Thanks for the heads up.

    Reply

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