Behavior Finance

What do you believe about your money?

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Examine your unconscious money beliefs and how they guide your life

It may be surprising to know that our childhood experiences shape many of our adult beliefs about money? As a result, what we believe about money will play a key role in how we behave financially.

These beliefs are passed down to us from our grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and a host of others family and friends who may have had an impact on shaping our young minds.

What did they teach us about money? Did they teach us that people get rich by taking advantage of others?

I can remember them saying that more money will make you happy.

Did they teach you can have love or money but not both?

Did you learn money should be saved not spent or money is the root of all evil?

These early unconscious lessons learned about money are called Money Scripts.

Dr. Ted Klontz and his son Dr. Brad Klontz both are Financial Psychologist. They are the leading researchers in the study of money scripts and how they shape our financial health.

Money scripts are defined as the unconscious beliefs about money that are rooted in our childhood and ultimately shape our financial health.

As a result, Dr. Klontz developed four categories for the money beliefs that we learn in our childhood.

Money Avoidance, Money Worship, Money Status, and Money Vigilance are the 4 categories.

Here is how Dr. Klontz describes each money script.

Money  Avoidance

dingzey Li unsplash
Dingzey Li Unsplash

Money avoiders believe that money is bad or that they do not deserve money. Similarly, for the money avoider, money is a force that stirs up fear, anxiety, or disgust.

People with money avoider scripts worry about abusing credit cards or over-drafting their checking account. They sabotage their financial success, may avoid spending money on even reasonable or necessary purchases.

He/she may unconsciously spend or give money away in an effort to have as little as possible in their control.

It is possible that disordered money behaviors such as financial denial, financial rejection, underspending, and excessive risk aversion result from money avoidant money scripts.

Individuals who misquote the biblical scripture by saying “money is the root of all evil” or those who believe that only the poor will be blessed tend to be money avoiders.

Educators, social workers, health care workers, and missionaries may have money avoidance beliefs.

Money avoiders may have lower income and net worth. Younger and single folks are more likely to be money avoiders.

Money avoiders tend to  believe that:

Rich people are greedy

I do not deserve a lot of money when others have less than me.

Good people should not care about money

The less money you have, the better life is

It is hard to accept financial gifts from others

It is not okay to have more than you need

Being rich means you no longer fit in with old friends and family

Money Worshipers 

Krissia Cruz
Krissia Cruz Unsplash

If you believe that more money will make things better, you could be worshiping money. In other words, they believe that an increase in income would solve their problems.

However, there is little evidence to suggest that more money solves life problems. Some reports indicated that there is no significant increase in life happiness once house-holds incomes are above $75,000 per year.

Furthermore, increases in income have been found to be associated with increases in distrust and depression.

Despite the lack of evidence showing a relationship between wealth and happiness, most people still cling to the notion that their problems would be resolved if they only had more money.

A money worshiper may spend an anticipated bonus before they receive the money. For example, people who are workaholics, gamblers, over-spenders, and risk takers have money worship behaviors.

Some other beliefs that money worshipers may have are:

If you have money, someone will try to take it away from you.

You can never have enough money

Money buys freedom

It is hard to be poor and happy

Rich people have no reason to be unhappy

Money is power

I will never be able to afford the things I really want in life.

I can’t trust people around money

 

Money Status 

S.Vittorio Dellaquilla Flickr

Money Status seekers tend to link their self-worth with their net worth. Their script may focus on outward displays of wealth, and as a result can be at risk of overspending.

First of all, they believe that if they live a virtuous life, the universe will take care of their financial needs. Therefore, money Status folks are more likely to overspend, gamble excessively, dependent financially on others, and hide expenditures from their spouses.

Money Status believers are the ones who try to keep up with the Jones. As a result, they buy expensive items even if they can’t afford them.  They like to look wealthy.

Some added beliefs that money worshipers may have are:

I will not buy something unless it is new

Poor people are lazy

I can have love or money but not both

Money is what gives life meaning

If something is not considered the “best” it is not worth buying

People are only as successful as the amount of money they earn

It is okay to keep secrets from your spouse around money.

Money Vigilance 

S.jennie O. Flickr

For many people, money is a deep source of shame and secrecy, whether one has a lot or a little. Hence money can be a sensitive topic in households.

People who are secretive with their money may be developing financial behaviors that are unhealthy for their financial future. For example, individuals who feel comfortable stashing their savings in their homes are guaranteeing themselves a rate of return less than inflation.

As a result, they are poorly prepared for retirement and perhaps their children’s college education. Money Vigilance is linked to alertness, watchfulness, and concern about money.

Such an approach to money may encourage saving, frugality, excessive and anxiety regarding pending financial danger. Consequently, you do not enjoy the benefits and sense of security that money can provide.

Individuals who are financially vigilant may also be less likely to seek credit or credit cards. Ebenezer Scrooge, J. Paul Getty, Leona Helmsley, and Andrew Carnegie are famous people who would be described as money vigilance believers.

More beliefs that money worshipers may have are:

Money should be saved not spend

It is important to save for a rainy day

People should work for their money and not be given a financial handout

If I cannot pay cash for something, I should not buy it.

You should always look for the best deal before buying something, even if it takes more time.

It is not polite to talk about money

I would be embarrassed to tell someone how much I make.

 

Now we know what money scripts are and how they impact our lives. I ask these questions of you.

What did you learn about money as a child? Has your money script helped or harmed your financial life? How does your money script make you feel? If your money script is the cause for your financial problems, how do you plan to change your beliefs?

Knowing our money script patterns and their potentially self-limiting or self-destructive effects may not be enough to change financial behaviors.

In as much as, money scripts may be learned in response to an emotionally charged or traumatic event or series of events. When they are developed and hardened in place by a bad experience, they can become very resistant to change.

We all have a friend who knows better but can’t do better. Their repeated attempts to change have failed. As a result, a referral to a financial coach may be helpful.

For many of us developing an awareness of our automatic thoughts around money, and their origin can be a profoundly transformational experience. Subsequently, our minds are open to creating more accurate and functional money scripts.

Therefore, understanding yourself better is the starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial wellness.

In conclusion, I encourage you to identify, challenge and change destructive money scripts and promote financial health.

 

I would love to read your thoughts on your money script. Send me an email to bobby@clarkonmoney.com

 

 

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