How smart are you when it comes to money?
Your Money Quotient
by Gary Foreman
The Ultimate Budgeting Guide
My Story: A Different Way to Budget
Simplify Your Budget
Every so often it's a good idea to do a little self-examination. So we thought that you might enjoy a simple money quiz. You won't need a calculator. Not even a pencil or paper. Just a few minutes to find out your "money quotient". You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. Let's try the first question.
1. You consider money to be:
a) a tool for rich people to oppress poor people
b) a tool for poor people to get rich
c) 'fun tickets' to be used for enjoyment
The correct answer is all of the above. Money can be used for all of these things. Wealthy people can control poor people by charging them interest to borrow money. Many people are slaves to the payments owed on their houses, cars and credit cards. But, that same interest can help poor people who are able to avoid debt to accumulate wealth during the course of a lifetime. That's true even if they never make big money. And, although you can't buy happiness, for a short time you can buy fun.
2. Your spouse's views on money are:
a) too stupid to be considered seriously
b) the reason why you never have any money
c) determined by Madison Avenue
d) essentially the same as your own views
This question doesn't have one correct answer. But your answer says a lot about your relationship. Not only for married couples, but for those who are thinking about marriage. Money problems are a major cause of divorce. And for good reason. Money is a indicator of many things in our life.
For instance, our personality traits seem to be magnified by money. Someone who's a little bit selfish will become positively greedy when you get into money issues. Our mates see us handle money all the time. And that tends to make our faults seem bigger.
Experts say that a healthy marriage requires that you understand your mate's money outlook. The quickest way to learn more about your partner is to discuss money. Not only the big philosophical issues, but little things. Like how much each person can spend without getting approval. It's also important to discuss your current financial state of affairs regularly.
3. Teaching your children about money is:
a) impossible, since they spend all their time at the mall
b) impossible, since they already know more than you do
c) impossible, because they flunked out of high school math
d) impossible, because their after-school computer company is going public next week
All of the above are wrong! Teaching your kids about money is not only possible, it's very important. And the inability to balance your own checkbook is no excuse. There's no reason that you can't learn with your son or daughter. You might be surprised to find that they respect you for admitting a shortcoming and being willing to learn.
Money is one of the most important subjects for your child to learn. Credit card issuers are targeting teens as a growth market. Many kids are on the monthly payment treadmill before they reach their 21st birthdays. College loans present another pitfall. Borrowing for college is easy. But soon students learn that paying back the loan is hard. Sometimes very hard.
If you teach your child only one thing about money, make sure that they understand how compound interest works and how it affects borrowing and saving. That one lesson could make the difference between a comfortable or miserable existence later in life.
4. Giving away money is:
a) much too painful and should never be attempted
b) an unfortunate fact of life to be kept to a minimum
c) determined by whether you have any extra money
d) the best part of having money
There is no one "right" answer for all people in all circumstances. But, your answer tells a lot about your relationship with money. If you answered a or b, you might want to make sure that you haven't become a slave to your money. Remember that money doesn't have any value except when it's used to buy other things. A big stack of $100 bills won't feed, clothe or keep you warm unless you trade them for food, pants or heating oil.
To put it another way, your money is only valuable when it's traded for items that bring joy to your life. If you're unable to give a little away without hurting, you probably have started to worship your bank balance.
If you answered c or d, you probably get more for your money. Let's face it, once you've covered life's basic necessities it becomes harder for money to bring joy. That's why so many people buy more and bigger diamonds, cars and homes. Chances are their first ring, car or home brought them more pleasure than the latest one they bought.
Contrast that to making a small gift to a poor person. A $25 gift could buy the clothes to help that person get a job that will allow them to feed their family. A lot of joy for a relatively small amount. If you can learn to enjoy giving, you'll be able to get a lot of joy for a very little money.
Hope you enjoyed our little money quiz. Also hope that you're able to use the money in your life to improve the quality of your life.
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.