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Facing your financial reality: what’s really at the center of your life?

Facing your financial reality means taking an honest look at where your finances line up with the rest of your life. So, what’s at the center of your life? When I pose this question to my clients, they almost always say one of four things: work, family, personal endeavors or finances. Of those four reasons, finances are usually the number one answer I hear.

When people realize the center of their life is money, they feel shame, guilt and even sadness. The domino effect of this choice is incredible. They work a job they don’t like because it’s safe and has a good salary. And, even worse, they fear losing that same job because of the money. A large percentage of their current cash flow goes to pay off past debt. Or they can’t realize their true dreams because they are chained to a standard of living to keep up appearances with their peers.

Is this you?

There’s a lot of shame and guilt associated with making money or work (and not family, our personal interests or a higher calling) the center of our lives. And I think the reason for this is that there is deep-seeded conflict between what is actually at the center and what should be at the center.

Consider this: if money is at the center of your life, the majority (if not all) of the decisions you make stem from it. Here’s an example. You want to buy a certain kind of home within a year, but you know the only way you can afford it is if you stay at a job you don’t like. What do you do? Do you leave the job you hate, find something you love doing and then get the house you want later than planned? Or do you stick it out at work and get your dream house within a year?

Let’s say you decide to stay at the job so you can have your house sooner and say to yourself that you’ll be able to get a job you love after you buy the house. After a few months as a homeowner however, reality sets in. You soon realize that you need that salary from the job you hate in order to keep the place up. And instead of feeling proud of this huge milestone in your life, you begin to resent what you worked so hard for.

Facing your financial reality

When money is the center of your life, these kinds of decisions are a daily occurrence. Shifting your center to something greater – like living your ideal life – dramatically decreases these decisions. You begin to focus on things that are in line with your core values.

Facing your financial reality means seeing where money lines up with the other important areas of your life. After you’ve figured that out, ask yourself if you’re really living a life that is consistent with your priorities, values and beliefs. If the answer is no, it’s time to make a change. But there is good news: recognizing the gap between thought and action is the first step in the financial healing process. With each step in this direction, you’ll be closer happiness as well.

Tags: emotion behind the money, Julie Murphy casserly, living your dreams, core values, personal finance, money and emotions, why we spend, Chicago personal finance, Chicago financial planners

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