I get dozens of requests to use this every year, so here it is with authorization to use it any and every way you find helpful — my version of the money autobiography!
Writing a Money Autobiography
Writing a money autobiography is a challenging and illuminating process that can be crucial to our ability to understand ourselves as Christian stewards. While stewardship is about more than money, it certainly never concerns less than money; and in our modern culture, money defines, to a great extent, who we are, how we live, and what we believe. For the largest part of our society, it is impossible to envision a life without money.
Our relationship with money is a timeless issue. Jesus speaks more about money than any other topic, with the exception of the kingdom of God. More than prayer, more than grace, more than sin, more than salvation, love, or forgiveness, Jesus teaches and preaches about our relationship to money. Obviously, Jesus understood that only through a healthy self-understanding of this critical issue could a man or woman rise to his or her full potential. Once Christian stewards prove themselves trustworthy over fiscal matters, they are ready to address matters more sacred and spiritual in nature.
What is a Money Autobiography?
A money autobiography is a reflection on the role money has played in our lives. We explore the past to see how our attitudes and assumptions about money and material possessions developed. We analyze the present to see how well we manage (or are managed by) money. We look toward the future to envision the role money will play in taking us where we want to go. A Money Autobiography can assist us in the process of personal development, enabling us to understand how money can help or hinder us in our journey to become who God intends us to be.
A money autobiography can be any length, but a good target to shoot for is three to five pages. Questions are provided to stimulate thought and provoke response. Feelings are as important as thoughts and facts. Think not only of your responses to the questions; also pay attention to how your responses make you feel. Re-experience some of the money events of your past and present life, and search these events for meaning.
This exercise is for your use only. Its purpose is to benefit your Christian walk and spiritual development. There is great personal benefit in the exercise of organizing and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and insights about money in your life. No one will see your money autobiography unless you choose to share it.
Using the Questions for Reflection
Read through the questions for reflection and respond to those that catch your attention or elicit a strong visceral response. DON’T TRY TO ANSWER EVERYTHING—you could write 200 pages and still not be finished! Jot down short, concise answers as you read the questions; then return to specific answers to reflect on their meaning. You may want to use these questions as daily reflections for a journal or longer-term writing project.
Questions for Reflection
What is your happiest memory in connection with money?
What is your unhappiest memory in connection with money?
What attitude did your mother hold toward money? your father?
What was your personal attitude toward money as a child? a teenager? a young adult?
Did you feel rich, poor, or something in between as a child?
Did you worry about money while you were growing up? Did your family?
As a child, where did your money come from? (allowance, chores, etc.)
Who governed how you would use your money? (save, spend, etc.)
Did you save as a child? as a teenager? If yes, for what did you save?
Did you give money to the church? Did your parents? Who taught you about giving?
Today, are you basically a saver or a spender?
Are you basically generous?
Do you feel financially secure?
Do you fear losing what you have?
Does money make you happy? Do you wish you had more? Would having less money make you less happy?
Do you ever feel guilty about money? How/Why?
What do you like best about money? What do you like least?
Do you consider yourself a wise money manager? Do you waste money? Do you get full value for the money your save/spend?
Which of the following words describe your feelings/attitudes about money?
power security hope pleasure love
identity prestige comfort anxiety gift
protection need value burden tool
Do you ever worry about money? In what ways?
Does your gender influence your attitudes about money? Do you think men and women view money differently? Why, and in what ways?
What are some gender stereotypes that you can think of concerning money? In what ways do you think they are valid?
Do you like to buy things for other people? When you eat out, do you pick up the check? For whom are you most likely to buy things?
Do you tend to be on the giving end or the receiving end more often in your life? How do you feel about it?
If you were struggling to make needs meet, would you accept the offer of financial help from a friend? a family member?
If you have money, and another person has financial need, will you offer assistance?
As a rule, do you borrow money? Do you lend money to others?
Do you use credit cards? Do you carry a balance or pay in full each month?
Do you buy on time-payments? (cars, appliances, etc.)
Do you carry a mortgage on your house? How soon do you plan to pay it off?
Do you have a second mortgage/home equity loan? How soon do you plan to pay it off?
How much debt is reasonable to carry on a regular basis? (50%+ annual income, 25%, 15%, 10%, 5%, 0%)
Do you give regularly to church? What percentage of your income do you give? (1%, 2%, 3%, 5%, 10%, 15%+)
Do you clearly understand what the church does with your money?
Do you give to charities beyond the church?
Do you clearly understand how charities that you support spend your money?
How do you feel when charities call your home to ask for money? when they send requests through the mail?
How do you feel when you are approached on the street by someone asking for money?
Two-thirds of the world’s population lives below the poverty level. How does this make you feel?
Who has a claim on the money you earn/save?
Do you consider yourself:
affluent comfortable average struggling poor
Have you written a will? Why, or why not?
What factors determine how you will divide your estate? Are you leaving money to a church, charity, or worthy cause?
The New Testament is clear that our individual wealth is to be used for the common good. What does this mean to you? Does anyone have a legitimate right to your wealth besides you?
How has your relationship with God been influenced by your relationship with money?
How has your relationship with money been influenced by your relationship with God?
In what ways does money create an obstacle to faithful Christian discipleship? In what ways does money make discipleship easier?
Is money an easy topic for you to talk about? Is there any area of personal finance that you don’t like talking about?
Is money talk embarrassing for you? Why?
Does money talk in the church make you uncomfortable? Why?
Which response most accurately describes your feelings about fundraising campaigns in the church:
They inspire me.
They make me angry.
I ignore them.
They bore me.
They make me want to give more.
They make me want to give less.
They don’t influence me one way or the other.
Why do you feel the way you do about fundraising/financial campaigns in the church?
Is your sense of self-esteem related to the amount of money you have? Do you feel that people with more money feel better about themselves than people with little money?
In what ways is money a spiritual issue? What can you do to improve your relationship with money? In what ways can God help you with your relationship with money and material wealth?
I am using your Money Autobiography format for a Seminary course. I plan to print your format in order to better interact with the questions. Could you categorize, or group, your questions into smaller sections? Would your questions lend themselves to research, specifically about how Money Biography has helped increase successful financial stewardship? Thank you for your work in helping to promote financial literacy in our Churches!