You have a good income but somehow you are always broke. You have tried to save, budget, and track your expenses, but somehow nothing seems to be working or you could not sustain doing it all the way. Money easily slips from your hands with little thought. Here are some reasons why it could be happening to you.
“Money is 8o% behaviour and 20% knowledge,” – Dave Ramsey
You earn a decent salary and know the basic principles of personal finance but yet you are barely able to get through the month without struggling financially. So, what’s happening here?
1. You either don’t have the right money management tools or need further financial education and guidance. This would be easy to solve. Just get advice from a financial advisor to direct you to the relevant money tools and set up a simple money management system. It’s good enough, or
2. There are deeper psychological reasons. You may have negative money scripts/beliefs or specifically unresolved money blocks.
Money scripts? Money blocks? What are they?
Money scripts are a pool of subconscious beliefs about money in your mind. You developed these subconsciously while you were still a child exposed to experiences and advice on money matters from family, friends, and the media. These experiences then later influence your future actions on money matters as an adult.
Note: Experts in human behaviour, psychologists and therapists, have long understood that what we experience during childhood can influence our adult activities and behaviors. However, it wasn’t until recent years that they realized that what we are experiencing with regards to money in our youth does influence how we view money as adults.
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” — Earl Nightingale
When these unconscious beliefs about money negatively affect your financial health, they become your money block. These negative convictions about money remain in your subconscious. They play a major role in your adult financial decision making until you can recognize them and overcome it. It is best to work with a financial advisor to help you identify and get past these money blocks.
Categories of money scripts and their relation to money blocks
Financial psychologist and therapist (Bradley and Ted T. Klontz) identified 4 categories of money scripts, of which 3 are associated with poor financial health. The following are the money scripts and their related money blocks:
1. Money Avoidance Scripts
Money Beliefs of an Avoider
Individuals (money avoiders) who have a tendency towards the following money beliefs:
- “Too much money is bad”,
- “Money trigger distress, fear or repugnance.”,
- “I don’t need more money. I am satisfied with what I have.”
- “Living with less money is a virtue.”,
- “I don’t deserve that much money. Someone else is more in need of it.”, and
- “Rich people are greedy and crooked!”
Money avoiders’ unconscious desire to have less can ruin their financial health. They tend to have lower savings and low net worth. Money avoidance is also linked to:
- an increased likelihood in overspending and compulsive buying behavior,
- taking care of others financial well being at own expense,
- relying on others financially,
- refused to check bank statements,
- ignoring own financial health and
- having difficulties committing to a budget.
2. Money Status Script
Money Beliefs of a Status Chaser
This category of people (the status chaser) believe:
- “I have more money. That means my status in society is higher”,
- “Having lots of money is what gives life meaning”,
- “I will not buy something unless it is new”
- “The more money I make, the more successful I am”’
- “If I have more money and good things, others are going to like me”.
Individuals with money status scripts display the following financial behaviors:
- Regard net worth and self-worth as the same.
- In an effort to impress people, they may risk spending more than they earn.
- Success means having more money.
- In an effort to impress people, they may risk overspending.
- They earned a lower income, possess lower net worth, and likely grew-up in low-socioeconomic households.
- Pathological spenders, depending financially on others, and frequently lie to their partners about their expenses.
3. Money Worship Scripts
Money beliefs of the Worshiper
- “If you have money, any problems can be solved”
- “I can’t afford the stuff I want in life because money will never be enough”
- “If I have more money, I will be happier”
- “Money can give me immense power”
Money worshipers think all problems can be solved with money. Money is also their main ingredient of a happy life. To them, money can never be enough. As such, they pursue buying all the things they want to have in their life. To buy happiness, they overspend and consequently got caught in the endless credit card debt.
Money worshipers are also more likely to hoard possessions, spend compulsively, ignore or forget about their finances, put work ahead of relationships, give to others even if they can’t afford it, and be financially dependent on others.
4. Money Vigilance Scripts
Money Beliefs of a Vigilant
- “I pay cash for my purchases. I won’t buy if I don’t have the cold hard cash”
- “it is extravagant to spend money on oneself”
- “I earned my money through hard work and not through handout”
- “People are close to me because of my money”
- “I practiced regular savings”’
- “I will not talk openly on how much I make or earn”
This is the only money script related to positive financial health. The money vigilant, however, is not susceptible to money blocks, which can cause excessive wariness and anxiety and adverse behavior. Financial behaviors include:
- Cautious, alert and anxious about their financial health.
- To get money, you got to work. Don’t accept handouts.
- Use cash to buy things. Seldom use a credit card.
- Have higher income and net worth
- Not easily divulge financial status to an outsider
- Highly unlikely to overspend or gamble
Everyone has money blocks. I have it, so do you. Even the most financially-savvy friend you know of has likely made a number of personal financial mistakes and have gone through the pain of not having enough money.
Knowing the principles of personal finances may not be sufficient to achieve financial freedom. You need to be aware of your money scripts. Bring it out from your subconscious mind. When the money scripts are pinpointed, they can be questioned and adjusted to derail destructive financial behaviors and facilitate good financial health.
Work with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can evaluate your money scripts in their information gathering meeting in order to investigate the influence of your money beliefs on your financial behaviors and to envision potential risks to your financial well being.
So, which money scripts and blocks you think fit you?
He has 25 years working experience in different finance-related jobs. He is now a consultant, and personal finance and business writer. His main goal is to help and educate non-finance professionals to understand and solve their personal finances problems. He believes everyone should be financially literate because everything we do has money implications!
Eric currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his wife and two young children.
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