The First Simple Truth About Money was about procrastination and financial fuzziness. The idea is that your non-actions around money can lead to bigger difficulties down the road. If you read the post, I hope that it caused you to make some behavioral changes. (Please write a comment and let me know if it did!)
Do You Know You Have a Money Personality?
Here’s a related question for you. Ever wonder why you procrastinate about financial matters? It may be due to your deep-seated money personality. We’ve all developed money habitudes and attitudes over the years – learned from our parents, our teachers and our peers.
Some of the information we absorbed about money may not be serving us so well now. For example, if you were raised in an atmosphere of scarcity, you may spend your whole life craving things you can’t afford and you now overspend to get them. On the other hand, if you grew up with abundance, you may expect things will always come easily to you. If your mom was a spendthrift, you may become one too or, you may overcompensate by becoming a miser. If your dad procrastinated about important money decisions and took the attitude “things will work themselves out”, you may find yourself taking the same approach.
My Money Story
My mother and father were extremely frugal, especially my father. He didn’t want anything. Buying him a gift was torture because it was impossible to figure out what he would like – except peanuts, he loved peanuts. So my siblings and I would end up buying him canisters of planter’s nuts for any occasion that required a gift. His frugality rubbed off on my mom. Going out to eat with her is challenging. She’ll look at a menu and always order the cheapest thing on it – or a side salad. Not a comfortable experience when you’ve just ordered filet mignon.
We kids would only get the “necessities” – food, clothing (thankfully we wore school uniforms!) and shelter. So, I learned early on that if I wanted the “extras”, I needed to find a way to buy them myself. This was probably a good thing, as I became self-sufficient at a very early age. But I also rejected the frugality of my parents and have been known to indulge myself on occasion. I’ve worked hard to find a good balance between being frugal and being extravagant.
Can you change your money personality?
Like anything with psychological or emotional roots, it’s possible but it takes work. Deborah Price is the author of Money Magic, Unleashing Your True Potential For Prosperity and Fulfillment. She is the founder of the Money Coaching Institute based in Petaluma, California and she has developed a money coaching curriculum with the aim to “combine both practical financial guidance with sound psychological principles to help you transform your relationship with money and lead a more purposeful and prosperous life.”
I asked Elizabeth Husserl, a SF Bay Area based money coach, founder of www.innereconomics.com, and a graduate of The Money Coaching Institute, her insights about money personalities. She said, “If we don’t pay attention to our money personalities they will act out in louder and more extreme ways. For example, the shopping sprees become longer and more expensive because you can’t quite fill the emotional hole you are trying to fill or the anger towards money grows until you blame it for everything wrong in your life.” Elizabeth offers Inner Economics workshops and private work for individuals, couples and small groups.
In my own financial planning practice, I find that the more I know about my client’s money type or personality, the better I can serve them. To that end I have each client fill out a money personality questionnaire, which seeks answers to such questions as:
- What messages did your receive about money as a child growing up?
- How did you parents handle money?
- Did you feel like you got an adequate financial education growing up?
Most people are perfectly willing to do this exercise and seem to find the opportunity to explore the emotional and psychological aspects of money cathartic. If I interview a potential client who is in financial trouble and I sense a pattern in his/her life, I will often suggest they work with a money coach first as a precursor to the more technical financial planning work.
If you think that you may be acting in ways that sabotage your chance of financial success and it’s become a pattern - read, sign up for a workshop, talk to trusted friends or advisors, or engage a money coach. There are resources available to help you.
I’ve listed a few books just below in addition to the resources I mentioned above:
Your Money or Your Life: Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman
The Soul of Money, Lynn Twist
Money, Money, Money: The Search for Wealth and the Pursuit of Happiness by Jacob Needleman
Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money In Your Life by George Kinder
You Paid How Much For That?: How to Win At Money Without Losing at Love by Natalie Jenkins, Scott Stanley and William C. Bailey