I Digress: What is a “Money Story”?

Orange City Iowa Estate Planning

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I attended a conference in July of this year where I had the chance to listen to an unscripted conversation between a counselor and a married couple. Their conversation was focused around what the counselor called the couple's "money story." But what is a money story? [Read More]

I attended a conference in July of this year where I had the chance to listen to an unscripted conversation between a counselor and a married couple. Their conversation was focused around what the counselor called the couple’s “money story.” According to the counselor, a money story is your beliefs, emotions, and meanings that form all your choices about money. It’s the blueprint for our two-way relationship with money.

And that really got me thinking about how money plays into the way we view the world. I haven’t had time to flesh out my own money story, but it’s something I think would be worth doing, especially as we get closer to the often consumer-focused holiday season. Here are a few of my thoughts, though:

  1. In my mind, money is a tool that each of us uses to achieve certain goals.
    As a tool, money is a gift from God. A good friend of mine describes it this way: God gives us this resource to steward and manage, and He doesn’t need us to give any of it back (it’s already His, after all; we’re just taking care of it). Yet, after giving us His resources, He invites us to take those resources and share in the privilege of advancing His kingdom; we have an opportunity to give selflessly. When we do so, God cultivates a more generous heart within us, making us more like His Son and drawing us closer to him.
  2. Money is necessary in our society today, which means it’s also a resource.
    In terms of economic principles, resources have a certain level of scarcity. In the United States, the scarcity of money is a hot button political issue because there are statistics that indicate half or more of our country’s total net worth is owned or controlled by less than 1% of the country’s population. Since money is a necessity, we now must decide if this wealth disparity aligns with our social values. And that all sounds really simple, but there’s just not an easy answer to solving the problem.
  3. Money, on it’s own, is not evil. But, as the Bible teaches, money is the root of all evil.
    I think money is the root of all evil, in part, because it is a way for us to acquire the things we need and want – again, it’s a resource. As a result, it makes us feel self-sufficient rather than relying on God for our needs.

These are just a few of my thoughts about money. History is rife with leaders, economists, and philosophers who thought and who are thinking deeply about money. Even pop culture icons talk about their views of money. John Lennon wrote, “Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can: no need for greed or hunger; a brotherhood of man.” Gene Roddenberry went a step farther and imagined a galaxy – Star Trek – where currency and money are obsolete.

I want to encourage you to think specifically about your perspectives about money and how money plays into your larger worldview. How does that apply to your legacy? What can you do specifically with your estate plan to share and teach those perspectives?

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