| Money Mindset |

Money Mindset: Chapter 3   

Turn your current identity upside down to find your ideal one

Kayla: Bigger kids, bigger expense
Russy: I want to stop wanting
Elisheva: Frugal mom of twin toddlers
Tamar: Bills scare me



ast week, we discussed how you grew up around money. This week, we’re going to talk about your financial identity, which is how you see yourself around money. Your Financial Identity is based on your beliefs, skills, behaviors, and environment. When you know how your internal landscape around money operates, you will be able to engage with your finances in a healthy way and make improvements.

The triangle is made up of five elements that either create or support your identity. To find your current identity, start with environment and work your way up.

ENVIRONMENT What’s the snapshot of my financial situation right now? How much savings or debt do I have? How much is in our account? Do we have any assets? Something put away for retirement? How much do I work? How much help do I have around the house? What am I and my kids able (or unable) to do?

ACTIONS What behaviors (positive or negative) got me to this environment? If you have savings, the action might be setting an automated transfer every week or working with a financial planner. If you have debt, the action might be that you obsess about or ignore the numbers.

KNOWLEDGE What knowledge or skills led me to take the actions that created my environment? You might take courses and read books or watch videos online — or do none of those at all.

BELIEFS What beliefs about money led me to actively develop those skills? If you’ve never taken action, the belief might be, “It’s not a woman’s job.” Maybe you think being rich is bad. Maybe you subconsciously believe you’ll never have enough anyway, so why even try?

IDENTITY What do my environment, my beliefs, my skills, and my actions say about who I am? Give this identity a name like “Anxious Avigail” or “Broke Bracha.” Your identity can be anything, you don’t need to use your own name.

Now comes the fun part. Flip your triangle and start from the top. Name your ideal identity. Who do you want to be?

Then work backward to identify the beliefs, skills, actions, and environments this ideal version of you needs to create. What’s possible for you? What are you capable of? What’s your family’s financial situation like in this ideal situation?

Readers! Follow along for an in-depth look at Elisheva’s current and ideal financial identity, and then create your own identity triangle.

Current environment

Our current environment is a little stressful — with a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. We moved a lot in the last few years, so the expenses added up and we have some credit card debt we’re trying to get rid of now. And no savings at all.

I do have a 401(k) plan through my last job, but I started very late with that because I didn’t know how to use it. And I have an investment account I transfer a little bit of money to every time I get paid.

I don’t buy any new clothes for myself. If something like our car breaks, my husband and I will fix it ourselves rather than pay someone to do it. And I definitely don’t have any help at home.

Current behaviors

I’ve put money aside in my 401(k)and read a lot of books on financial literacy.

But we’ve never budgeted, which I think is why we’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. I don’t really know how to budget. I’m trying to work on this. Also, my husband and I are not on the same page so we each do our own thing and having regular checkups would probably help us.

Current knowledge

I’ve done a lot of research and I know the stock market. I know how to trade, so I bring in some income from that.

Current beliefs

Growing up, the belief was that money is bad and people use it for bad things. Or that people who have money are not good people — they’re stuck up and unkind. My husband grew up extremely wealthy, but I grew up with a single mom who was always worried about money. When my husband became frum, his family decided not to support him anymore — so we started from zero.

When I told my husband that I grew up thinking people with money are snobby, he said, “Yep, I was definitely like that.” He said he used to look down on people who didn’t have money and needed to worry.

For both of us, it’s important that even when we have money, we’ll still be people of good character.

I’m not a numbers person, but my husband is, and I leave it all to him. At the same time, I believe that just because he’s savvy with understanding numbers, doesn’t mean he should be the one taking care of our finances. I believe an objective third party opinion is helpful.

So in summary, my beliefs are probably:

Money makes you do bad things

People with money don’t have good middos

An objective outsider should help us plan

Current identity

Hesitant Haily. I’m very hesitant to spend because things are so tight, and I need to think a million times about every expense.

Ideal identity

I want to be Loaded Leah.

Ideal beliefs

Loaded Leah would believe that money is good if used right and that it can be used for good causes. She’ll believe that the more money you have, the more you can make the world a better place because you’d be able to fight for injustice and put your money toward good things.

Ideal knowledge

Loaded Leah would be able to do at least some simple bookkeeping — and she’d work smarter, not harder, to bring more money home.

Ideal behavior

Loaded Leah is good at networking, relationships, and connecting with people in a way that is smart and business savvy. She’s comfortable with numbers and great at time management.

Ideal environment

In this ideal life, every penny has a job of its own in a diversified portfolio. It’s clear where every penny is going. She has money for tuition and tzedakah without having to worry. She can go on vacation without blinking an eye. She has life set up for generations — and she lives a very slow-paced life. Gardening. Waking up to daven slowly. Homeschooling. Taking time for everything that’s meaningful to her. If you want every moment to be intentional, money can really do that sometimes.


Rivky and Tsippi speak:

Wow, thank you for this, Elisheva.

Now, think back to last week for a minute. We discussed the “have-do-be” model versus the “be-do-have” model. In this case, if Elisheva’s ideal environment is to garden and live life slowly, she doesn’t have to wait to be wealthy to do those things; there are ways to integrate those things we love to do into the life we’re living now, if we’re intentional about it.

A huge part of why we name the triangles is so we can catch ourselves. When we act a certain way or lean into a certain belief, we can stop and say, “Hey, that’s Hesitant Haily talking. What would Loaded Leah say?”

And when we call on that name, it switches something in our minds. It tells your subconscious to turn on that part of your brain and help you step into it. Whenever you need, snap your fingers, call that name, and bring a different part of yourself to the frontlines instead.

Readers — What are ways you can insert pieces of your “ideal life” into your “today life?”


Your homework:

It’s another date night!

Reference last week’s money quadrants and then discuss:

  1. What do you wish you (each of you) had known about money in childhood/before marriage?
  2. Do you have any fears about money?
  3. Which money school or quadrant do you want your kids to grow up in?


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 873)

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