What do you wish you would’ve known when you were younger? Everyone has something—most people have a whole list. When you’re just starting out, you make decisions based on your limited knowledge of the world and learn from the consequences. But what if you had a little help? That’s where On Your Own comes in.

The author, William Bernstein, at age 7
Latest Post: October 9, 2014

Lessons from My Younger Self

Bill Bernstein started saving for his retirement almost by accident. He tells why you need to pay yourself first and often. (or Sell Out)

LifeValues Quiz

Question 1 of 20
My Decision about which vehicle to drive comes down to this main issue:



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Question 2 of 20
One important priority I have in looking for my next home includes finding:



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Question 3 of 20
If I were to face an overdue account or bill that would have serious credit consequences, I would worry most about:



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Question 4 of 20
In my opinion, the fundamental reason for health insurance is:



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Question 5 of 20
When I think about changing jobs, my main concern is:



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Question 6 of 20
I tend to deal with my housing priorities:



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Question 7 of 20
In deciding what to do with a sudden cash windfall, I would:



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Question 8 of 20
In case of serious accident or illness, my support network would likely be:



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Question 9 of 20
Any decisions I would make (or have already made) about planning for retirement are based on:



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Question 10 of 20
To feel totally satisfied with my housing, I would need:



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Question 11 of 20
When it comes to "impulse purchases":



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Question 12 of 20
The definition of "health" most appropriate for me would be:



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Question 13 of 20
In making vacation plans, I weigh value and cost mostly in light of:



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Question 14 of 20
If I "fell in love with" and wanted to buy a really big-ticket item (boat, motorcycle, furniture suite) that was not within my budget:



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Question 15 of 20
When people visit my home and see my lifestyle:



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Question 16 of 20
In general, I make life's serious, non-financial decisions:



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Question 17 of 20
When I hear the word "security", I automatically think of :



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Question 18 of 20
If a home gives me the "freedom" I need, that means I can:



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Question 19 of 20
In my ideal financial position, I would have the freedom to:



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Question 20 of 20
Given a choice of health care plans, a major criterion for me would be:



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If you scored very high here, you value identity, autonomy, safety and security. Taking charge of your finances can give you the peace of mind you require in a dynamic global village and a challenging economy. You prefer to make your own decisions as a means of self-expression.

You have a clear sense of self. Whether you are yet a disciplined saver or not, you know that financial security can be a key to personal fulfillment. You "invest" in self-expression, seek your own sense of purpose and want an environment that reflects "who you really are." You are concerned with doing whatever you can to achieve your goals and make your dreams come true. You are more concerned with your own future well being with less regard for others' needs or demands.
A high "S" score usually indicates that your chief concerns involve family needs or preferences of friends. Are you caring for an aging parent, saving for a child's college fund, or trying to keep pace with an active social circle? Individuals with high ?S? scores generally live and finance interactive, perhaps supportive, lifestyles.

You probably look after the needs of others as much or even more than your own. You seek to work and play with people you care about. You probably make financial decisions mostly to nurture relationships. You budget with the needs and well-being of loved ones in mind. You might make investment and other financial choices because trusted individuals advise you to do so. Your financial goals involve family and/or your community
A high "P" score suggests concern with your fitness and physical surroundings, perhaps your home or the home you dream of owning. Wise financial planning will support your desire to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and enjoy the tangible benefits you value. A high "P" score indicates an interest in comfort and beauty beyond mere functionality.

You seek an income and cash flow that helps you achieve a certain lifestyle or standard of living. You value prosperity in order to enjoy material goods and comfort. Your main goal in earning and spending is to enjoy life in your home and surroundings. As you invest in your savings and retirement accounts, you are likely to be planning for a comfortable future with the time and place where you can enjoy your retirement lifestyle. If you've been spending too much, better start saving NOW
If you scored high in this category, financial management is probably more important to you already, or you are strongly inclined to learn to handle your finances more effectively. Developing your financial skills will honor this value and maximize your knowledge and interest in things financial.

You probably like your job mostly for its financial benefits. When you spend money or invest, knowing you are getting value gives you pleasure. You make financial plans for long-term security and short-term goals. Your financial decisions are "hands on." You also value accuracy, organization, and discipline in the financial professionals and organizations that you deal with.
A very low "I" score suggests that you might be seeing (or making your financial decisions) through the eyes of someone else, perhaps deferring to another's expectations or requirements.

You might be a little out of touch with your need for personal expression, perhaps staying in a job with little fulfillment. You spend your money on other people or to achieve a particular lifestyle. You might enjoy finding a bargain, but you also might unwittingly be depriving yourself. Your plans for your future might be hard to finance and secure because they are not fully developed.
A very low "S" score, on the other hand, might indicate that you live alone, enjoy solitude, and value financial independence. You may be a loner and tend to make financial decisions "wise or not" in your own self interests. Your spending may be guided by lifestyle or the need for self-expression, but it is not related to the needs or wants of others. You save to honor personal goals rather than to ensure a certain type of family or community lifestyle in your retirement years.
A very low "P" score might indicate you are always on the go, more interested in experience than environment, a tendency not to collect "things." Material pleasures and consumables have little interest for you. Others might question your lifestyle, but you are more focused on people or job satisfaction than on keeping up with the Joneses. You are likely to spend on behalf of others or in order to ensure your safety or self-expression. Saving is, for you, a way to protect family needs or self-fulfillment. A modest retirement might work out just fine for you.
If you scored very low in the "F" category, you probably procrastinate and/or make your financial decisions impulsively. You might be spending to satisfy your social or physical preferences, and that's fine if you can afford to do this. Consider that you might be neglecting your need to save, invest and spend wisely because these concerns are not important enough to you.

Budgeting is annoying to you, and you have little interest in investing or in balancing your accounts. Your spending is aimed at rewarding relationships or comfortable lifestyle; job satisfaction drives your work. You might be susceptible to impulsive buying. You are probably not a faithful saver unless you establish automatic systems to do this for you. Money topics are not likely to be enjoyable to read or discuss. Remember, however, if your Financial LifeValue score is low, think carefully about whether the consequences of a spending decision will help you or hurt you. If the answer is that it will hurt you, make a different choice!
You experience balance in this domain. It is not necessarily a dominant nor a weak driver of your decisions, unless your score is very close to the high score value (10) or the low score value (4), in which case you might consult those interpretations as well. There may be specific situations where this domain more strongly influences your decisions and others where it does not. If you scored high in other domains, those values likely are stronger drivers of your decisions than this one. When your scores in the other domains also fall into the mid-range (scores of 5-9), it suggests that you experience balance among relationships, independence, community and privacy.
You experience balance in this domain. It is not necessarily a dominant nor a weak driver of your decisions, unless your score is very close to the high score value (10) or the low score value (4), in which case you might consult those interpretations as well. There may be specific situations where this domain more strongly influences your decisions and others where it does not. If you scored high in other domains, those values likely are stronger drivers of your decisions than this one. When your scores in the other domains also fall into the mid-range (scores of 5-9), it suggests that you experience balance among relationships, independence, community and privacy.
You experience balance in this domain. It is not necessarily a dominant nor a weak driver of your decisions, unless your score is very close to the high score value (10) or the low score value (4), in which case you might consult those interpretations as well. There may be specific situations where this domain more strongly influences your decisions and others where it does not. If you scored high in other domains, those values likely are stronger drivers of your decisions than this one. When your scores in the other domains also fall into the mid-range (scores of 5-9), it suggests that you experience balance among relationships, independence, community and privacy.
You experience balance in this domain. It is not necessarily a dominant nor a weak driver of your decisions, unless your score is very close to the high score value (10) or the low score value (4), in which case you might consult those interpretations as well. There may be specific situations where this domain more strongly influences your decisions and others where it does not. If you scored high in other domains, those values likely are stronger drivers of your decisions than this one. When your scores in the other domains also fall into the mid-range (scores of 5-9), it suggests that you experience balance among relationships, independence, community and privacy.

LifeValues Profile Quiz Score

Now that you have completed the quiz, here are your results which determine which combintiation of decision factors tends to drive your financial decisions.

Inner LifeValues 5
Social LifeValues 5
Physical LifeValues 5
Financial LifeValues 5

A very high LifeValues score (above 9) and a lower LifeValues score (4 and below) clearly reveal dominant (high scores) and less important (low scores) decision drivers. Scores that are fairly even across all categories suggest that the four domains are balanced in your life. Neither situation is preferable to the other. The point is simply to understand how and why you decide as you do.

Interpret Your Results

Your Inner
LifeValue
Score

Your Inner LifeValue Interpretation
Other Inner LifeValue Interpretations

Your Social
LifeValue
Score

Your Social LifeValue Interpretation
Other Social LifeValue Interpretations

Your Physical
LifeValue
Score

Your Physical LifeValue Interpretation
Other Physical LifeValue Interpretations

Your Financial
LifeValue
Score

Your Financial LifeValue Interpretation
Other Financial LifeValue Interpretations

View your other three LifeValues scores using the tabs above.

Finish Quiz

Once you leave this page your interpretations will not be saved. If you would like to keep your results, e-mail yourself a link or print them by using the e-mail and print buttons at the top of the page.

Interpreting a Balanced LifeValues Profile

Scoring fairly evenly across all categories suggests a balance among relationships, independence, community and privacy. It might mean that you value your job for everything it offers: great co-workers, good compensation, and pleasant working conditions. You probably are handling your earning, spending and saving habits well – or at least well enough to provide a sense of comfort. Each category impacts your capacity for decision making.