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What is your Relationship with Money?

| September 21, 2018
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Is it healthy? Or...?

John Hancock came up with a “healthy living” concept for their life insurance holders a few years ago. The healthier you live, the less your premiums will be, along with a few other perks – not the least of which is their effort provide ongoing information about everything that affects your health. Their newsletter this month brought to mind a very important part of our lives and our health that we often overlook: our relationship with money. 

The newsletter featured research psychologist and Certified Financial Planner, Dr. Brad Klontz, who created a series titled “Money Scripts.” These are four distinct money belief patterns that each of us can learn from in regard to our own relationship to money. Pension Mark, a company dedicated to the retirement world, has taken it upon itself to invest in education around financial wellness, and summarized them well:

  1. Money avoidance: People who fall into this category believe that money is bad and is often a source of anxiety or disgust. This may result in a hostile attitude toward the wealthy. Paradoxically, these people might also feel that all their problems would be solved if they only had more money. For this reason, they may unconsciously sabotage their own financial efforts while working extra hours just to make ends meet.
  2. Money worship: Money worshippers believe that money is the route to true happiness, and one can never have enough. They feel that they will never be able to afford everything they want. These people may shop compulsively, hoard their belongings, and put work ahead of relationships in the ongoing quest for wealth.
  3. Money status: Similar to money worshippers, these people equate net worth with self-worth, believing that money is the key to both happiness and power. They may live lavishly in an attempt to keep up with or even beat the Joneses, incurring heavy debt in the process. They are also more likely than those in other categories to be compulsive gamblers or to lie to their spouses about money.
  4. Money vigilance: These people are cautious and sometimes overly anxious about money, but they also live within their means, pay off their credit cards every month, and save for the future. However, they risk carrying a level of anxiety so high that they cannot enjoy the fruits of their labor or ever feel a sense of financial security.

These negative internalizations and core perceptions about money can be disastrous not only for your wealth, but for your health… and your family.  We previously wrote a piece about the relationship between you and your money: Are you controlling it, or is it controlling you? Progress can only start by telling the truth. It may be a hard truth, but what do you want for yourself? What do you want for your family? If these scripts were written for you when you were a child, what scripts were written for your children? What scripts are being written for your grandchildren?

So where do you start? The best thing you can do is be an example and share your wisdom. But before that step, you need to honestly face the truth about your money belief system.

After that?  Here’s what comes next:

  1. Remember as you do take this step that you didn’t write your money script. So accept it for what it is, forgive yourself, and move on.
  2. Create your vision—If this were your last day on earth, what would you want to have accomplished in looking back? Put this is into physical pictures and words. Find a way to look at it often to remind yourself of where you are going. Consider it a financial vision board or a weekly review of your goals. Need help? Call us. We have tons of resources.
  3. Remember those patterns and fears won’t disappear overnight and it is important to find a way to manage them. Consider who you keep company with as you go through this transformation. Are they helping or hurting you? And when it comes to you, educate yourself about personal finance. Our online learning center is a great place to start. You might keep a journal and write down what comes to mind every time you have one of these negative thoughts. Then immediately write something positive behind it. Example:

Thought: I am never going to get out of debt. This is just the luck I was born with.
Counter Statement: I will get of debt. I have a plan, and in eighteen months I will be debt free.

  1. Have a plan. Just the idea of a budget or a financial plan may seem treacherous, but you need them. It is not a question, it is a certainty. There is an old saying—as far as you walk into a forest you have to walk out. It may be a long way out. You need a map, any possible shortcuts, checkpoints, help and rest. These are the tools that give you all of those things.

While writing this, I came across an interesting factoid: According to the research of Thomas Stanley, millionaires, on average, spend 8.4 hours per month managing and planning their finances. I got two things from this. First, a reminder that we are all busy, but if something is important then treat it as being important. Second, would setting aside time be an outlet to avoid a negative script? Schedule money dates. Allow yourself to live Life on purpose knowing that you have time set aside to work on this money thing. After all, life isn’t about money. It is about living. So do yourself a favor and control your money so it doesn’t control you.

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