The Real Reason I Am into Personal Finance

Kyle and I took the “Life Values Inventory” together last week – it’s a little tool that helps you identify your values and which ones you would like to be spending more or less time on.  It was developed by people at my university so the career center and counseling services are always pushing it – it’s free so it’s worth checking out.


Anyway, as I have previously identified “security” as one of my top 5 values using David Bach’s Smart Couples Finish Rich, I expected “financial prosperity” to be one of my top values.  But actually the way the questions regarding money were phrased, I didn’t really identify very strongly with them – I ended up scoring only an 11 out of a possible 15.


financial success questions


Conversely, I scored a 15 out of 15 on “responsibility” as a top value.


responsibility questions


This score deficit got me thinking about whether or not my desire to have financial success stems more from the high emphasis I place on responsibility than being successful with money specifically.  After all, at the basic level it is easy to define what being responsible with money entails – live on less than your means, save for the long-term future, avoid taking on debt for depreciating assets, keep an emergency fund…  The way to achieve basic responsibility is also fairly easy to figure out – how to track spending, which financial products are better than others, basic frugality, etc.  In some cases there are nuances and it’s difficult to tell when a choice is responsible or irresponsible, but for the most part irresponsible behavior is identifiable and avoidable.


This focus on financial responsibility rather than fabulous financial success jives with my story of coming to my interest in personal finance.  I was just out of college, receiving my first full-time paycheck, and I realized I didn’t know what to do with my money.  I figured I should start researching the topic – I read a few PF books and that got me started down this road.  Looking back, I can see that it really was motivated by my desire to be responsible with money the way I had been responsible with my choice of college major, career trajectory, and lifestyle decisions.


I’ve struggled a bit to find my place in the PF blogosphere since I have a rather plain-vanilla approach to PF.  Neither Kyle nor I feels a need to have high standard of living beyond what’s necessary to live in San Diego.  We’re not out to maximize our income, build a passive income empire, or retire/become financially independent in our 30s.  But maybe this is closer to my answer – not striving to be crazy successful in one particular way but rather just “responsible” in all the ways that seem reasonable.


What motivates you to be interested or successful in your finances – responsibility, luxury lifestyle, security, children’s future, achievement?  How highly do you value responsibility and how does that affect your finances?


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30 Responses to "The Real Reason I Am into Personal Finance"

  1. krantcents says:

    For me, success comes from an inner desire to be good at whatever I set as a goal or want to accomplish. It has nothing to do with money, however it is a reward for many accomplishments.
    krantcents recently posted..How to Use Credit Cards Responsibly

    1. Emily says:

      I rated achievement as a pretty high value too, but not as high as responsibility. I think I’d rather be responsible in all areas achieve a lot in in a few and not be responsible in the rest. Money is a good one for achievement since it’s so measurable!

  2. Sounds to me your goal is “being comfortable.” I suspect more people have a goal like that than the “millions by 30” type of thing.

    My wife is like you: responsibility, “doing the right thing” is high on her value set. Things like frugality, un-indetbedness (how present-day is it that we don’t even had a nice word for being out of debt??) and investing come naturally to people like that.

    I may be wrong, but it seems to me people like that want, more than anything else, tips on how to turn their responsibility into daily decisions. Greg, over at Club Thrifty, has a great post about planning, pretty much in the same vein.
    William Cowie recently posted..Midnight: Cinderella Goes… To Hollywood?

    1. Emily says:

      Definitely I want to be comfortable – secure, not extreme. 🙂 It probably ties into why I’m not entrepreneurial – the activities/states you mentioned do come more naturally to me than dreaming up ways to earn more money.

      Good point about what people with a ‘responsibility’ value might want to read – I will think over how I can write toward it!

  3. eemusings says:

    Security is my Number 1 motivator. I struck out on my own at 17 and while I’ve never truly been in dire straits, I’m always aware that anyone is only a couple of misfortunes away from financial disaster.
    eemusings recently posted..The kinds of friends you need

    1. Emily says:

      I suppose there are a variety of social safety nets, but I sure don’t want to access them! Security is very important to me too – it’s related to responsibility.

  4. I want to be comfortable but I also want to save a lot of money so I feel financially secure even though I am spending on those comforts. Which is why making money is important to me – I want to have a big cake so I can eat half and never feel like I’m deprived of cake, but then I’m also saving half of the cake so I don’t feel like an irresponsible glutton for eating the whole cake.

    … and now I am hungry. For cake.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..Graduation Present for a Young Woman

    1. Emily says:

      I like that transformation of the phrase – you just want a huuuuuge cake! Lol.

  5. CashRebel says:

    I think the world could use quite a few more responsible people just like you. I’d say that security drives me. I feel like the riskiest thing about my life is that I have to work for my money. I feel like if I was able to achieve financial independence, I could live securely, not to mention responsibly, for the rest of my life and be quite a happy camper.

    1. Emily says:

      Why do you feel that having to work is risky? Do you have a fear of becoming disabled/bored/obsolete?

  6. Very interesting post Emily. Found you from your essay on giving which I greatly enjoyed.

    My wife and I have been discussing our goals and aspirations. If we have children, she thinks she might want to stay home, possibly even home-school them. I’m good with that. We’ve also considered the FI route and how that would play out. We aren’t convinced that we would enjoy retiring at age 30-35. Maybe so, maybe not – just not sure…
    Jacob@CashCowCouple recently posted..What’s Your Financial Lifestyle? (Part 2)

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for surfing over here, Jacob! Welcome!

      It’s difficult to balance those big goals. I guess the harder you work toward FI now the more possible it will be for her to make the choice to stay home. If she decides to keep working and you know by then you don’t want to retire super early, you can live it up a bit more!

  7. Love the idea of comparing values with your significant other. I’m going to have to see where the bf and I, “stand”. I’m probably most motivated by security. I don’t need fancy homes or cars, just knowing that I have what I need and can help provide for my family (and future family/kids etc.).
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Just Say Thank You!-A Guide to Accepting Compliments

    1. Emily says:

      Our profiles turned out more different than I would have expected, but I wasn’t that surprised that responsibility was sort of “medium” for Kyle and higher for me. I think “security” straddles “responsibility” and “financial success”, the two values in the LVI, and it’s one I also identify with closely. I definitely don’t want nice cars but I would like a house I can entertain in from time to time.

  8. Pauline says:

    I have to admit, I want to be successful… because I am lazy. Doing it the wrong way would take twice the time and energy, and honestly, I don’t want to put it in!
    Pauline recently posted..How a 17 year old prepares her financial future

    1. Emily says:

      You’re not lazy, you’re efficient!

  9. Money is not my only measure for success. When I accomplish any of the things listed in my bucket list, whether related to finances or not, I would say I am successful. But of course, our children’s future and a secured life after retirement top the list.
    Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey recently posted..Teach Your Kids about Money with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Junior

    1. Emily says:

      So would you say achievement is a high value for you? I don’t even have a bucket list! How far are you on it?

  10. For me, it would be security as the driving factor. I have very little interest in being rich, famous, or even exciting. My primary goal in life is to have a relatively boring, middle-class life.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Loose Money on Fiverr

    1. Emily says:

      Us too! Boring and comfortable – not financing everything with debt we try to forget about.

  11. Michelle says:

    There are a lot of reasons for why I’m interested in personal finance. I want security, to be successful, to have fun, feel comfortable and so on. My mom is the definition of a financial mess and I want to be nothing like her!
    Michelle recently posted..How to Spend Your Extra Income

    1. Emily says:

      It’s amazing how many life areas money touches – not determines but definitely enhances!

  12. […] from Reach Financial Independence made a great point on why she is into PF, saying “I want to be successful… because I am lazy. Doing it the wrong way would take […]

  13. SarahN says:

    So, I was drafting a post the other day about finding my blogging niche, and it echoes what you said here: I don’t want to make millions, or retire early or build a huge passive income. And I don’t want to just blog about money either… something I’m grappling with too. But I am definitely in agreement, my money management isn’t a scheme, it’s just part of my ‘responsible’ side.
    SarahN recently posted..Saving money with health insurance

  14. Thanks for sharing that site, I am checking it out now and really like it. Money is not my measure of success, but it is my measure of being responsible and conscious in all aspects of my life. I feel like I was too selective in my life about what I paid attention to- at the detriment of my finances, ha! But now I’m like OK, need to be responsible in all aspects of my life, and also even though I still put a lot of emphasis on family and friends, make sure not to live for them or to impress them either. I am curious to see what my results are on this site!
    American Debt Project recently posted..Yeah, I’m Practicing Right Now.

    1. Emily says:

      That is an interesting observation. I agree that I see money as a measure of responsibility. I’m glad you have found the site valuable!

  15. […] – Emily at Evolving PF wrote an excellent and thoughtful article about the motives behind her interest in personal finance. […]

  16. […] – Emily at Evolving PF wrote an excellent and thoughtful article about the motives behind her interest in personal finance. […]

  17. […] talking with so similar to me?  Two explanations again, with the truth between – I have awesome, responsible friends or I tend to only talk at length with people who already agree with […]

  18. […] was ridiculously small in comparison with the local cost-of-living, so I, being a self-consciously responsible person, decided to start learning about personal finance. Around the same time, I started a blogspot […]

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