By Matt DeBall
Crossovers always have the potential to be energizing and enjoyable. Sometimes they happen on our favorite TV show or in a beloved movie series (special shout out to fellow fans of DC Comics or Marvel). Other times they happen in real life. For your edification, a crossover is happening on the COMPASS blog this week.
This month COMPASS has focused on our relationship with money and invited us to explore this relationship by writing a money autobiography. Marcia Shetler began unpacking this helpful tool and Beryl Jantzi helped us consider four categories that reveal our approach to money, debt management, and generosity. What follows in this blog are a handful of questions and answers related to my money autobiography (that can also help you write your own). A wonderful CROSSOVER has occurred because I didn’t answer these questions alone.
In February, COMPASS explored how essential it is to talk about money with loved ones, and Rafael Robert from Brightpeak Financial led a great Live Chat about money, marriage, and meaningful conversations. Connecting those conversations with our topic for this month, my lovely wife, Chelsea, has joined me in answering the money autobiography questions below. We answered these questions individually and talked about our answers afterward. While we have different relationships with money, it is our relationship with money together that shapes how we manage our finances. This money autobiography process proved to be meaningful for us, but also allows you to hear two different relationships with money that contribute to our money autobiography. We hope you will find this blog to be as meaningful and helpful as we did.
Question: Describe the role of money in your childhood. What was your attitude toward money as a child? Did you feel poor or rich? How did your perceptions make you feel?
Chelsea: Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot in terms of money. But they never let us know or feel that strain. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized that we were somewhat poor for a lot of our childhood.
Matt: Money served different functions in my childhood. It paid for food at the grocery store. It was the two quarters that my parents gave me each week to put in the offering plate. It was how people supported my Boy Scout troop through buying popcorn. Money was just around. I didn’t feel like my family was rich or poor—just average. My parents taught us to be thankful for what we had and they didn’t talk much about money in front of us.
Q: What was your attitude about money as a teenager? What memories do you have related to money?
C: As a teenager I was obsessed with making money. I had two jobs through most of high school. I loved having my own money to spend on what I wanted.
M: Money was a means to have fun. It allowed me to buy snacks and games, and participate in activities with friends.
Q: In your current situation, how have other sources shaped your thoughts about money?
C: Nothing has really shaped my thoughts about money. I appreciate it more now that I am an adult with actual expenses to pay for.
M: Society at large and media has influenced me to see some debts as good (homes, college degrees) and other debts as bad (credit card). The church has helped me see money as a tool that God gives us to meet our needs and to carry out His purposes in the world.
Q: How do you feel about your present financial status? Do you worry about money? How does having or not having money affect self-esteem or sense of self-worth?
C: I do worry about money. Mostly because there are things I’d like to be able to buy (a new car) or do (remodel our home) but our financial status keeps us from doing that. Not having as much money as some of my peers does affect my self-esteem. I do find myself getting jealous of those who can buy nice houses, go on vacation, or stay home with their children instead of having to work.
M: I feel proactive and content about our current financial situation. I very rarely worry about money (only when large bills are paid right before a payday). Though I wouldn’t consider it a large factor in my self-esteem or self-worth, our money providing for our needs does have a positive effect on me.
Q: Do you spend money on yourself easily or with difficulty?
C: I used to be able to spend money on myself with no problems. But recent life events
have made me think more before I make a purchase for myself.
M: Somewhat easily for things under $10 (coffee, lunch, a book), but hesitantly for anything else.
Q: Do you feel generous or stingy with your money?
C: I am generous in terms of gift giving, but I know I am stingy with money. I would hesitate greatly before loaning someone money.
M: It depends on the day, but I typically feel more generous.
Q: Do you give to your church or other charitable organizations? Why do/don’t you give? How does this make you feel?
C: Yes, we give to our church. At first I was very reluctant to do so because I didn’t want to give away our money. But now I am more comfortable with donating to our church.
M: Yes. I like to give because it is an opportunity to show love to God and support God’s important work in the world. Giving makes me feel happy and like I am being faithful to God’s call to give.
Q: How do you feel about asking other people for money…for yourself, a worthy cause, your church community, etc.?
C: I am very hesitant asking people for money. I never want anyone to feel obligated to
give to me based on our relationship and I wouldn’t want my asking for money to affect our relationship.
M: It would make me uncomfortable to ask for money for myself. For my work, I am a fundraiser, and because I believe in the ministries of our organization, I am comfortable with asking people to support them.
Q: Consider the following idea: how you handle money reflects your deepest values. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
C: I agree. What we spend our money on may reflect what we care about the most or what we consider a priority in our lives.
M: Agree because of Matthew 6:21, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When we spend money on anything, it reveals what is important to us.
Q: What future hopes or plans do you have with money?
C: I hope that we are able to continually support ourselves financially. Being independent financially is a great feeling.
M: I hope we can plan to pay off our debts, save for retirement, increase our savings for unexpected emergency circumstances, and increase our giving to church as we are able. I also plan to open savings accounts for our kids early in their lives to prepare for their needs and aspirations in the future.
In addition to answering these questions for your own money autobiography, you can learn more about this helpful tool on Tuesday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET at our next Live Chat “Your relationship with money” led by Mike Little, director for the Faith and Money Network. Sign up while spots are still available at marcia_5.gr8.com.
About the Authors
Chelsea and Matt DeBall live in northern Illinois. Chelsea works as office coordinator for a Special Recreation Association, and is pursuing a Master’s of Mental Health Counseling from Judson University. Matt serves as the COMPASS communications coordinator for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and as coordinator of Donor Communications for the Church of the Brethren. He has an MDiv from Northern Seminary. They enjoy caring for their Welsh Corgi (Watson) and being involved at the First Baptist Church of Aurora.
Photo credits: pixabay.com