“I’m bad with money. I have always been bad with money. My spouse is the one who is good with money. I’m terrible.”
Is this your money identity? Is this your spouse’s?
“Being good with money” means different things to different people. To some, it means being able to save money. To others, it means diligently tracking money. Still others believe it means being able to spend without worrying, understand the stock market, or have a good credit score.
The truth is, “being good at” money is a dynamic skill, like “being good at” basketball. A good basketball player needs to know how to dribble, shoot, pass, block, etc. A good baseball players needs to know how to hit, throw, run, and catch. And not just how to, but when and where to in various situations. If someone struggles to make a 3 pointer or hit a fast ball, does that mean they are bad at their sport? Those skills might be high profile and really exciting, but it is not a fair verdict if their other skills are not considered. The flip side is true also. Maybe they never miss a foul shot, but they don’t really understand the game or won’t/can’t pass to anyone on their team? Maybe they can do scheduled drills, but in a game, they fumble and trip and pass to the wrong team. Are they good at basketball?
The same is true with money.
I have identified all essential personal finance skills into four pillars of money mastery. To truly be a master of you money, you must be balanced and skilled in all four areas. If you are really strong in one or really weak in another, that doesn’t mean you are good or bad at money as a whole, just that one pillar. Having low skill or awareness in multiple pillars, or having a large discrepancy in skill among the pillars is what gets people into trouble.
The good news is, everyone has something to improve and every pillar can be improved quickly with proper guidance and motivation.