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Money Script

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From history, we now know that millions across the globe commit themselves with atypical vigour to achieving their goals, such as losing weight, finding more happiness, eating more healthfully, quitting smoking, obtaining a better education, changing jobs and better financial health.

As a certified financial planner, I have the privilege of discussing money resolutions with my clients at the beginning of each year. For the last few years, I have asked my clients to add one resolution – “understanding my money beliefs.”

Money Scripts

In the last post, I wrote about Ebenezer Scrooge’s money beliefs. In this post, I want to introduce you to four “money scripts” based on the research of two financial psychology experts, Dr. Bradley Klontz and Dr. Sonya Britt. They define money scripts as the stories about money that we have told ourselves repeatedly since childhood.  These stories are typically passed down from our parents, extended family, or culture, are often not true and are difficult to change. There are four money script categories: Money Avoidance, Money Worship, Money Status, and Money Vigilance.

Categories of Money Scripts

Money Avoidance is based upon the idea that money is a source of anxiety, fear, or disgust — and that living with less money is a kind of virtue. Examples of common money avoidance scripts are “I don’t deserve money I didn’t earn” or “It’s not okay to have money when others go without.”

Money Status scripts confuse net worth with self-worth, leading to scripts such as: “Success is measured by how much money I have” or “My possessions reflect my importance in society and worth.”

Money Worship is based on the idea that money can lead to happiness and fulfillment. The Harvard Grant study challenges the money and happiness link, with George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, saying “the study’s most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships.” Common money worship scripts include “I will be happy if I have more money” or “One can never be too rich.”

Money Vigilance scripts say: “Saving for the future is important” or “I have to research all purchases to make certain I get the best deal.” Whilst these scripts generally have a positive impact on financial health, taken too far, they can have negative effects. The message about money vigilance, borrowing from Oscar Wilde is “Everything in moderation.”

What’s Your “Money Script”?

Dr. Bradley Klontz and Dr. Sonya Britt found that one person can hold multiple scripts, and these scripts can even contradict each other.

Do you want to know your money script and reflect on how has it affected your finances?

Take the Klontz Money Script Inventory here.