DISCOVER YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MONEY BELIEFS AND HOW THEY IMPACT YOUR NET WORTH
At Your Mental Wealth Advisors, we want to help you identify and understand your money scripts®. Money scripts® are the unconscious beliefs about money. These are beliefs that are rooted in our childhood that ultimately shape our financial health. We ask our clients and prospective clients to complete the Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI). This is a short assessment designed to help you learn about your own money belief system. Knowing yourself better is the best starting point for making change. You learn to understand why you make the choices you do. We want to help you learn to act in your own best interest. This is the first step in improving your overall financial health.
Money Scripts® have been found to be associated with many aspects of financial health. Financial outcomes and financial behaviors are both impacted by your money scripts®.
The importance of money beliefs cannot be overstated. Money scripts® are:
- Learned in childhood
- Often just partial truths
- Passed down from generation to generation. Ours come from our parents and we pass them to our children
- Responsible for our financial outcomes. We make important decisions with our money because of them
- Typically unconscious. We usually don’t even know we have them
Money Scripts® have been used in research and have found to be associated with:
- Net worth
- Credit card and other debt
- Financial behavior
- What we do with our money
- Other aspects of financial health
The Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI) assessment measures four core money beliefs.
These beliefs are Money Avoidance, Money Worship, Money Status, and Money Vigilance. Each person will have a score within each category. Higher scores indicate stronger levels of conviction in that category. It is not uncommon to have money scripts® that seem at first glance to contradict each other. An example would be agreeing with the belief that "money corrupts people” while also believing that "things would get better if I had more money”. Your results will help you gain insight into your own money belief system. Knowing yourself better makes you stronger. This is the best starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial health. We encourage you to learn more about Money Scripts® and to find out your own Money Scripts®.
Money Status seekers tend to link their self-worth with their net worth. They may prioritize outward displays of wealth. This behavior can put them at risk of overspending. They may believe that if they live a virtuous life, the universe will take care of their financial needs. That they will be rewarded for good behavior. They may have grown up in lower socioeconomic environments. They may come from a household that gave a higher social standing to people with more money.
People who score higher in the area of Money Status are more likely to spend too much. They often spend more than they can afford. They may be prone to gambling excessively. Money status seekers are often financially dependent on others. They may also be guilty of hiding spending from their spouses.
Money Worshipers believe that money is the key to happiness. They feel that the solution to their problems is to have more money. At the same time, they believe that one can never have enough money. They find that the pursuit of money never quite satisfies them. The higher their score on Money Worship the more likely they are to carry credit card debt. A lower net worth also usually follows a higher score here. Money Worshipers are prone to buying things in an attempt to achieve happiness. They are more likely to put work ahead of family. They also often give or loan money to others even though they can’t afford to do so.
The Money Vigilant are alert, watchful, and concerned about their financial health. Feeling that they have enough money is important to them. They believe it is important to save. They are not waiting for a financial windfall. They don’t expect to win the lottery.They feel people need to work for their money. They do not think people should be given financial handouts.
Those with higher Money Vigilance scores tend to show higher levels of financial health. They are already making good choices. They are meeting their needs. The Money Vigilant are less likely to buy on credit. They spend what they can afford. They value a bargain.
They also can be somewhat anxious about their financial futures. This worry inspires them to save. They are usually discreet about their financial status with others. They don’t want everyone to know how much money they have. They rarely keep financial secrets from their partners.
Money Vigilance encourages saving and frugality. It encourages being smart with spending. This is good for financial health. Unfortunately it can also lead to excessive wariness or anxiety with money. This may not be so good for personal health and happiness. These feelings can prevent people from enjoying their money. Money can provide a sense of security. It can make you feel safe. Those with Money Vigilance may not really get to enjoy this benefit. Their feelings of worry may be stronger.
Money Avoidance is associated with people who are wealthier. They are also wiser, and more highly educated. Higher scores on Money Avoidance suggest a belief that money is bad.
Money Avoiders may also believe that they do not deserve money. They may believe that wealthy people are greedy or corrupt. They often believe that there is virtue in living with less money.
Money avoiders may sabotage their financial success. They are their own worst enemy. They have negative ideas about wealth and having money. They may frequently give money away. This is an unconscious effort to have as little as possible.
Money avoidance can be associated with trying to not think about money. These kinds of thinkers may ignore financial statements. They often overspend or use their money to enable others financially. They may have difficulty managing a budget.
Even their choice of occupation can be a sign of Money Avoidance. For example, people in helping professions, such as psychologists and social workers, often score higher in this area. While those in professions such as business or financial advising score lower.
Tips for Money Avoiders
Do you have financial stress? Are your feelings about money or the wealthy negative? Money avoidance can have a negative impact on your financial health. These thoughts can hold you back. It is important to begin challenging and changing these beliefs. Below are some tips that can assist you.
Create a Ritual Around Becoming Financial Informed. Make checking in on your money a habit.
Review your financial situation regularly. Select a time and a place to see how you are doing. Set a weekly meeting with your business partner. Enjoy a monthly meeting with your spouse. Plan a quarterly meeting with your Advisor. As a ritual these meetings will become familiar. They will feel less threatening. Your comfort level talking about your money will increase as your financial knowledge does.
Do Well, by Doing Good.
Come up with a list of ideas noting how having money can be good for you. Think of ways it can be beneficial for the world. Think about examples of philanthropic pursuits. How might you use money to do good? Share the list with a close friend or confidante. Or create a mantra for yourself. Tell yourself why it is okay for you to have money. Keep the mantra or list near where you interact most with your personal finances. Near where you pay your bills or check in on your money. This might be in your wallet or by your computer. Replace ingrained bad thoughts about money with this positive mantra when you work with your money.
Set Budgeting Goals and Reward yourself!
Set budgeting goals that you can achieve fairly easily. Over time you can stretch to increase your goals. This way you do not deprive yourself. You can stop spending too much without feeling short of money. Keep track of your goals and reward yourself when you reach them.
Tips for the Money Worshipper
We live in a society that worships money. Money worship beliefs are common. Many are destructive yet still supported and revered. It is a belief that more money leads to more happiness. That people with more money are somehow worth more as individuals. It can be difficult to swim against the tide. These messages are all around us in society. It is good for us to challenge these values. The impulse to attach our happiness to our income, net worth, and possessions is not good for us. Our personal happiness, our relationships, and our pocketbooks may all suffer.
It feels great to give to others. Whether giving to your favorite charity, or as a demonstration of love and support of friends and family members it feels good. However, just like any expense, giving should be budgeted, tracked and done with intention. It is not healthy to give beyond one’s means. To support financial dependence in someone is not helpful. Giving out of a sense of guilt or shame does not serve you well. Consider time spent in support of people and causes you love. Giving of yourself can be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than a financial gesture.
Escape Buyer’s Remorse
Buying new things is exciting and fun, but shortly after the purchase, the thrill goes away. If you find yourself regretting purchases after you make them make a change. A great practice is to put time between your impulse to buy something and pulling the trigger on it. Journal or ask yourself questions about your intention behind purchasing this item. Is this something I or my family need? Am I so tired from working so hard that I feel I deserve a treat? How does this purchase fit with my values and goals? After asking these questions make your decision. You may still end up making the purchase and that is OK. There is still great value in slowing down our thoughts before taking action.
Make time for yourself and the people you love. Yes, having lots of money is great, but what are you going to do with it if there is no one around to share it with? Just like with purchases, achieving wealth can quickly lose its luster unless we attach it to our values and goals. After an initial thrill when gaining money, our excitement levels out and we are chasing the thrill again. Never satisfied with the wealth we have. Attaching that gain to something we value focuses the feelings on our what we value not just on money.
For most people, this involves spending time doing things we love with the people we love. When money is the focus of our happiness it becomes our primary goal. It can be difficult to curb our impulse to work harder. To work more hours. All because we of course get rewarded with more money when we do so. However, when we keep our true priorities in mind, it can help us maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Set aside specific times throughout your week to connect with loved ones. There are many ways to do this. Let them know, as a reminder to yourself and also as a reminder to them that they are special to you. Reserve particular evenings to be with them and strive to be fully present. Plan a special activity with your loved one, perhaps exploring a new restaurant or activity. It will recharge you and your relationships. Strong loving relationships are much more likely to bring you happiness than money itself will.
Tips for Money Status Seeker
We live in a culture that associates financial status with social standing. It is normal to be attracted to the latest and greatest. We all want to be successful. These thoughts and feelings are normal, but when left unexamined they can lead to detrimental financial outcomes. You are not your net worth. Your net worth is a part of you, of course, but it need not define you. Here are some tips to keep money status scripts in check: Slow Down.
Before making a purchase, slow your thought process and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I buying this item?
- What does buying this item do for me emotionally?
- How long is that feeling likely to last?
- How will I pay for this item?
- How will I feel about this purchase next week?
When you answer these questions, look for flaws in your logic. A thought such as “buying this item will make me appear impressive or cool.” is an example. Try to feel the emotions you might experience as you are making this purchase. Will you feel excitement or fulfillment? Or are you more likely to feel disappointment or stress? Maybe anxiety or shame come to mind. What does naming your emotions do to your desire to continue with the purchase? Is there a better way to meet this emotional need? Make Time.
Determine a time and a place to discuss your monthly spending. Discuss spending honestly with a loved one or trusted advisor. This can be over dinner, on the second Tuesday of every month for example. Choose any time that works for you. Make a habit of this. The goal is to get your financial situation out into the open. To focus on this consciously and purposefully.
Strive to be Emotionally, Physically and Financially Healthy. Health is important in all of these areas. Some people who have money status beliefs are quite financially successful. They have been fortunate in their drive to secure their social status. They have gained access to the finer things in life. However, sometimes a drive for monetary success creates other problems. It can be accompanied by workaholism. This can have a negative impact on many aspects of your life. Marriages and relationships with children can be harmed. Physical and psychological well-being can suffer. Make sure to take time for what matters most. Financial success without health and fulfilling relationships is worthless.
Tips for the Money Vigilant
Work hard, play hard. This is a common expression but it is one that is difficult for the Money Vigilant to fully embrace. Having financial comfort and security are critically important. However, excessive anxiety and wariness around money can keep you up at night. This kind of worry can be bad for your health. The tips below are designed to help you wisely enjoy your resources. Your Advisor can help you set up a financial plan that works for you. You need a plan that balances your needs. You have a need for financial security. This need must be balanced with the need to enjoy what you have worked so hard to build.
Have Fun! Set a “fun-money” budget. Use your skills as both a financial analyst and a saver. Put together a fun activity for yourself and/or your family. Take a long vacation. Buy yourself a new toy. Creating space in your budget to enjoy your hard work is valuable. It can pay dividends in feelings of gratitude and joy and in deeper connections with those you love most. You Can’t Take It With You.
Spend some money on something ridiculous. Gulp. This is a difficult assignment for the money vigilant. But what’s the point of all that vigilance? You may have spent a lifetime being frugal. What is the point of all of that deprivation and saving if you never enjoy it? The money vigilant have mastered the habit of saving. They have decades of hard work and practice at it. The money vigilant need to learn to practice spending money. Now that you have reached your financial goals you need to reward yourself. Consider a trip you have fantasized about. Plan or a visit to the spa for a massage. Practice spending money. Begin with something ridiculous first to break the ice. Have a Trusted Partner or Advisor.
Check in with a trusted advisor or friend. It can be difficult to talk about money with other people. In many instances a little secrecy is even a good thing. However an advisor can be really important. Discussing your financial situation with someone can provide insight. It can also help you broaden your perspective.
Money vigilance is excellent for your bank balance. It is a valuable quality in terms of your ability to save and live responsibly. Still it is important not to let your healthy vigilance turn into anxiety. You should guard against a tendency to hoard out of fear. Do you find that watching over your financial situation is taking up more than an hour a week? Is it keeping you up at night? Do you feel this belief is getting in the way of other hobbies or activities that you want to do? If your answer to any of these questions is yes it may be time for a change. You can set an intention to actively spend less time worrying about your financial status. For example, if you spend an hour a day reviewing your portfolio make a plan to reduce that. Consider scaling back to 30 minutes each day or an hour every other day. Keep scaling back. Make a mental note to reassure yourself. Write out a positive message on a sticky note kept near your computer. Remind yourself that you are exactly where you need to be and are on track to meet your financial goals.
The Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI) is designed to help you gain insight into your own money belief system. It helps you to know yourself better. This is the best starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial health.
Your results will also help your Advisor. They will have a deeper understanding of your belief system around money. This will help your advisor best understand your relationship with money.