Financial decisions are not always about money. The things you value in life can and do influence the many financial decisions you make. In fact, according to research conducted by Lois Vitt, Ph.D., financial decisions are often not about money at all.
Vitt is chair and founding director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies. She conducts research on consumer decision-making, financial-literacy education and other financial topics. In a study funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), Vitt indicates there are four categories of human values that correspond to people’s financial concerns in life:
- Inner values: psychological and spiritual
- Social values: family, friends and communities of interest
- Physical values: health and environment
- Financial values: sufficiency, sustainability, appropriateness
These values can run the gamut from spirituality to physical health; from a desire to be with and take care of others to the need for freedom and independence; from craving beauty and comfort to controlling how others perceive you.
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To better understand why and how you make financial decisions, Vitt asserts that you first must understand your values. When you have a handle on what you really value, you can clarify your thinking, make smarter decisions, improve your personal relationships, and get better at making, keeping and growing your money.