This is the first exercise in a series designed to walk you through an entire financial plan. The spreadsheet is embedded in an Excel spreadsheet you can download and save for personal use. You can get the background for this exercise in my Forbes post HERE or just jump right in with the instructions given below:
Write your own Personal Money Story. What is the earliest memory you have about money, and how old were you? For many, it will involve some combination of a piggy bank and an allowance or birthday gift somewhere between ages 3 and 6. Then, rate this experience numerically between +10 for a great experience and –10 for a scarring memory. Continue this pattern, marking all of the notable experiences you had with money—good and bad—throughout the course of your life. As you fill in the columns in chronological order, you’ll see the graph begin to populate.
As you reflect on the completed exercise, what story does it tell? Is it notably fortunate, happy, tragic or sad? Is it relatively level or particularly volatile? The answers to these questions might just explain the health of your 401k or your burdensome credit card balance.
As you develop your own realizations about your money beliefs, consider sharing your story with a select family member or friend, especially a spouse or loved one upon whom your Personal Money Story might have a meaningful impact…and suggest they do the same.