What are your values in life and attitudes about money?

This exercise is taken from Barbara O'Neill's excellent Saving on a Shoestring, and it is the first thing you must determine. It will help prioritize what, if anything, is more important to you than transition. It puts transition into a larger picture of your life. Take a look at Exercise 1 below. Print it out or write it down.

Look through the whole list and think very carefully about it. This exercise is very important.

Take plenty of time-- at least a minute on each value. Envision what each value means to you. Look at the value, then look away and think about what that means to you.

Then mark the list:

  • A next to important things
  • B by somewhat important things
  • C by unimportant things

If you live alone, this is easier. If you are in a domestic partnership, all of these exercises must be answered with that person's input, too. Have your partner do it separately, and then discuss your lists together. You will need to find a way to reconcile your lists.

Exercise 1: Values

  • comfortable life
  • community service/volunteer activities
  • cultural events
  • earning a lot of money
  • education
  • excitement
  • family activities
  • family vacation
  • friends
  • happiness/contentment
  • health
  • image/personal appearance
  • independence/autonomy
  • job success
  • large investment portfolio
  • new home or condo
  • prestige/social recognition
  • recreation
  • reducing or eliminating debt
  • religion
  • security
  • sense of accomplishment
  • shopping/spending money
  • starting/maintaining own business
  • top-of-the-line products and services

For instance, topping my A list are image/personal appearance, community service, friends, and eliminating debt. These are the things I find most important. I am thrilled to pass at the level I desired when I set my goals. I get enormous gratification and validation from helping others, through this site and other activities. I have a small but close group of friends I value deeply. I want very much to eliminate my transition-related debt so I have the option to take a less lucrative job in a more rewarding field.

You should see some interesting patterns that say a lot about you when you do this. Some people have a family to put first. Some really need the security of owning a home. For some, work or religion is very important.

Once you've done this, think about how transition fits into each of your A list values. In some cases, it might contradict, and in others, it might fit perfectly.

Extra credit exercise

The best book I've ever read on how to recognize and change your attitudes about money is The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. The link takes you to a short write-up about the book. I think the author, Suze Orman, totally gets it . She has made some amazing insights which may be of great help to you as you prepare for transition.

Once you see what you really value in life and how you think about money, you're ready to write down your dreams regarding transition.


Order the interactive spreadsheet of this financing information.

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