Money: Meaning, Values, and Life
Money plays a role in nearly every aspect of our lives. For better or for worse, it connects us to one another. Depending on how we approach and understand it, our relationship with money can enhance or limit our ability to live our lives to the fullest. Over time, most of us dedicate a significant part of our lives to earning money. We use energy planning and worrying about both the money we have and the money we don’t have. We agonize over how to plan for the future and how to use money to support what we care most about. We can use money to respond with compassion to events in the world, to advance causes we believe in, and to support justice-making efforts. We engage in—or avoid engaging in—money conversations with those close to us and with fellow travelers in the groups and communities of which we are a part.
It is a spiritual practice to engage in conversations and reflections about money in order to align our use of money with our values. Here are some tools to help.
The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life
The Wi$dom Path, an online program written by Pat Infante and Rev. David Messner, is a 12-workshop Unitarian Universalist program designed for groups. It invites participants to explore ways to make real, meaningful changes that bring their financial lives into better alignment with spiritual commitments and Unitarian Universalist values. They become better equipped to live into spiritual lives that are more full and spiritual lives are supported, rather than hindered, by financial realities and possibilities.
Materials in The Wi$dom Path can be adapted for other uses, including these:
- Use the questions and exercises in Workshop 1: Talking about Money and Workshop 2: The Meaning of Money in Our Lives to help you write your own "money story," to better understand yourself and assess any changes you would like to make
- Use the reflection questions and exercises in Workshop 8: Faithful Earning and Workshop 9: Faithful Spending to talk with family and trusted friends about the relationship between your values and how your earn or spend money. Share your reflections with children or youth in your care.
- Use the activities in Workshop 10: Faithful Giving to consider how your faith and your values call you to generosity.
- Use the information and activities in Workshop 11: Faithful Investing to think about what "investment" means to you, and how to invest in a way that is in line with your values.
Here are other resources to help you build a more spiritually healthy relationship with money:
Your Money Story
- Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, by Joe Dominguez, Vicki Robin, and Monique Tilford,(Penguin Books, 2008).
- The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge: 5 Principles to Transform Your Relationship with Money by Ted Klontz, Brad Klontz, and Rick Kahler (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2008).
- The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources by Lynne Twist (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003).
The Purpose Economy: How to Create Purpose in Your Work by Aaron Hurst (Elevate, 2014) and The Purpose Economy website.
The Meaning of Money: Forbes Wealth Wizards (3:19). A video on the website of Forbes.com.
- Inspired Philanthropy, a workbook by Tracy Gary (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008), offers a plan for aligning and integrating values, passions, and dreams for communities and families into giving plans. The companion website included many downloadable activities and handouts.
- The Generosity Path: Finding the Richness in Giving by Unitarian Universalist Mark V. Ewert (Skinner House, 2013) sheds new light on our finances—connecting money to our values, beliefs, and loves—promoting skills and strategies in charitable giving. Watch the introductory video.
Socially Responsible Investing
- For investment basics, visit the “Tutorials” page of investopedia.com or the “Investments” page of SaveAndInvest.org.
- Visit the website of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Explore Socially Responsible Investing resources on the UUA website
- "Escalating Inequality" is the 2014-2018 Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) of Congregations. Find out more about the issue and download the extensive study guide for resources and suggestions.
- Online, find resources, stories, and links for economic justice initiatives of the Unitarian Universalist Association
- Enough: The Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism offers online resources and support for living a way of resource sharing, interdependence, and wealth redistribution.
- Inequality for All, a documentary film by Robert Reich (85:00) may be purchased or rented through the Inequality for All website, but is also readily available through public libraries and through video screening and rental services.
Practical money management tools and skills can help you make decisions that are consistent with your values. There are many offerings on line or through community adult education programs that can help you acquire information and skills. In addition, here are resources that may be helpful:
- Mymoney.gov is a starting point for information intended by the US government to help improve the financial literacy and education of persons in the United States.
- Free practical financial planning tools developed by Joe Dominguez, one of the authors of Your Money or Your Life is now presented by the New Roadmap Foundation: financialintegrity.org.