Today’s big idea is simple but super important to remember. And that is this: Your net worth is not your self worth.
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I was inspired to make this the first episode of this series of five episodes on real money talk because I just this morning had a moment of total money panic
I went to check the balance on our joint account. My spouse and I both pay in equal amounts each month and we use that joint money for our expenses. So it ends up getting spent by the end of every month and replenished at the start of each month. And despite the fact that as I write this it’s only the second week of the month, our account was at $0. Zero dollars!
I had a real moment when I saw that. Turns out I messed up the math and wrote more checks than we had the money to cover. OOPS.
Except for a moment there, what I was thinking wasn’t OOPS. It was more like, holy crap we are screwed and, I messed this up how could I be so stupid?
I’m guessing you’ve had similar moments of beating yourself up. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.
And then, the next question is, what do you do to pull yourself out of it?
I actually went and read an article on how money has no value to us or impact on us in any way after we die. I mean, that’s obvious–you can’t take it with you is a familiar phrase because it reminds us of this truth. And remembering that money has no meaning the instant we die–which, as we all know but frequently forget, could be any moment–has a way of reminding you of your mortality and of what’s really important. Which is NOT how much money you have, but the qualities and people and ways to spend time that fill you up. Money can make a lot of things possible, but it can’t feed your soul.
It gets tricky in our minds, though, because our society values money and all the things it can buy so highly. AND we use the word worth to describe money and to describe our feelings about ourselves–as in, self-worth.
The truth is, every being who is alive, has worth, simply because they exist. Rivers have worth. Animals have worth. Plants have worth. And so do human beings.
I mean, a baby has no assets, no ability to make money, no bank account, and yet, a baby also has undeniable inherent worth. And you, like everyone else on this planet, is just a grown up baby.
Here’s a helpful way of thinking about the difference between your net worth and your self worth
Your net worth is derived by things that are external–the money you have in the bank, the assets that you own, even the debts you owe factor in to your net worth.
Self-worth comes from within. It’s your regard for yourself, and it encompasses that inherent worth that is gifted to us when we are born. It’s internal.
So really, the two have nothing to do with each other. But our inner critics love to look for reasons to feel bad about ourselves, and money is so intensely prized in our society that it’s a great tool to beat yourself up with.
I hope that today’s episode will help you enact more of a barrier between your external net worth–or your financial reality at any given time, whether you’re feeling flush, broke, or anything in between–and remember that what kind of a person you are and how you feel about yourself has to do with your values–whether you are honest, creative, compassionate, etc.–and not the value of your various accounts.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to think of something to tell yourself any time you start to get that feeling of, I suck because I have debt, or I’m a loser because I don’t have a savings account, or I don’t have the money to cover my bills this month, or I don’t own a house, or a second house, or a yacht–wherever you are on the money scale, it’s really freaking rare that it feels like enough, and any time you are feeling that lack it’s easy to make it mean something about you and how good or worthy of a person you are.
So… in those moments, what do you want to remind yourself of? Here are some suggestions: “Money is a construct; I am real.” “I am worthy.” “I am not my bank account.”
Pick your phrase and write it somewhere you can easily look at it the next time that “I suck because I suck at money” feeling pops up.
And come back tomorrow, or keep listening, because I’m talking about the piece of the equation that too many people forget about when it comes to improving your financial health.