mental wealth

What's your money script?

What's your money script?

What’s your ‘money script’?  Everyone has one, but not everyone knows what it is.  

Have you ever thought that having more money would make you happier? Or that it would solve your problems?  Do you ever overspend to appear to have more than you actually do?  Or, do you avoid debt and only pay with cash?   People value and treat money differently and the answers to these questions can help uncover why.

Money plays a major role in life.  Having it can provide security and freedom while a lack of it can be cause for stress, anxiety and feeling trapped.   The most common money-problems facing the average adult are spending too much and saving too little.  The remedy seems obvious - Save more and don’t spend more than you have.  While good habits for spending and saving are certainly important, actions alone aren’t the only ingredients for financial success.    Discipline and determination to stick to a budget is often not enough and many continue to struggle despite the desire for better financial management.

The catalyst for financial strain is not just about capabilities or how much money is earned but about “money scripts” or beliefs about money.  

Money scripts are unconscious beliefs that typically develop during childhood, based on what we’re taught about money from our parents, caregivers, culture and neighborhood.   These beliefs then influence our financial behaviours throughout life.  

There are many different beliefs about money and all beliefs have some degree of truth, but there are two prominent scripts that research says can be detrimental to cashflow.  (1) Money worship, the belief that more money will make you happier; you can never have enough; or money will solve your problems; and (2) Money avoidance, the belief that money is bad; rich people are greedy; good people shouldn’t care about money; or it’s not OK to have more than you need.  These beliefs, when held strongly, have been linked to financial outcomes like lower income, lower net worth and bad financial choices.  

One important step to change a financial life that is off course is to consider the beliefs behind financial decisions.   Once money scripts and the problems they cause are understood, we can challenge unhelpful beliefs and replace them with more healthy attitudes and behaviour.  

To uncover your money scripts, start with a few questions like:  

  • What are five things your mother, father or other caregivers taught you about money?
  • What’s your earliest money memory?
  • What’s your most painful money experience?

Modifying unhelpful money beliefs is essential to change self-defeating financial behaviours.   If financial health is something you crave but recognising or changing your money script eludes you, then help is available.   Working with a clinical psychologist can identify unhelpful money scripts, as well as address the emotional, behavioural and relational aspects of financial troubles.  Then you can learn to manage money in more healthy ways.  While your money scripts may have developed in childhood, you can influence what you do about them today.  Good financial health is important to live your #BestLife.

article by Lydia Rigano

this article appeared in DUOMagazine June 2017