How to Reframe Your Resources

What are your resources? The end of the year and the beginning of the new year are a time when many institutions and families look at what they have financially (or don’t have). We are programmed by our culture, and often by our families, to think we do not have enough. Christians, however, are called to gratitude and celebration. Most of us have plenty to celebrate this New Year’s.

James E. Hughes is an attorney who works with families with significant wealth. You may not consider your family wealthy. Yet Hughes’ suggestions for how families think through their own values could be applied by any family or individual. He suggests that families have three types of capital: human, intellectual, and financial. Human capital is the people in your family (he’s thinking extended family, not just nuclear family). Intellectual capital is the collective knowledge of the family, through life experience and other learning. Of course, financial capital is the family’s tangible resources. So if you think about your family from this perspective, you may see that you have more wealth than you thought! (James E. Hughes, Jr., Family Wealth, p. 17.)

Hughes’ model has helped me to get above the fray of my anxiety about money to see what assets my family has, and what is truly most important to me. And it has helped Karl and me to have conversations about money that are genuinely productive and lead to better decisions. It’s been energizing to think this way about our resources.

Here are some questions to consider as you work on your own personal finances:

How do you make decisions about money?
If you are married, how do your patterns of relating to money differ?
What are your patterns of saving? Spending? Giving?
What resources do you have to help you make decisions? (Denominational resources, fee-based financial advisers, books or periodicals or online resources you like)
If you struggle to make decisions about personal finances, what would be one very small step you could take in January to help yourself?
If you are strong financially, what is the next thing you need to do?
What can you celebrate the most about your family “capital”?

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