DISCOVER YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MONEY BELIEFS AND HOW THEY IMPACT YOUR NET WORTH
At OCCAM, we’re interested in helping you identify and understand your money scripts. Money scripts are the unconscious beliefs about money that are rooted in our childhood and ultimately shape our financial health. We ask our clients and prospective clients to complete the Your Mental Wealth® Money Script assessment, which is a short assessment designed to help you gain insight into your own money belief system. Knowing yourself better is the best starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial health.
Money Scripts have been found to be associated with financial outcomes, financial behaviors, and other aspects of financial health.
Money scripts are:
- Learned in childhood
- Often just partial truths
- Passed down from generation to generation
- Responsible for our financial outcomes
- Typically unconscious
The importance of money beliefs cannot be overstated. Money Scripts have been used in research and have found to be associated with:
- Net worth
- Credit card and other debt
- Financial behavior
- Oher aspects of financial health
The Money Script assessment measures four core money beliefs: 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 the category of money beliefs. It is not uncommon to have money scripts that seem at first glance to contradict each other, such as endorsing the belief that "money corrupts people while also believing that "things would get better if I had more money. The results will help you gain insight into your own money belief system. Knowing yourself better 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 Script.
Money Avoidance is associated with people who are wealthier, 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, and that there is virtue in living with less money. Because of their negative associations with money and the wealthy, money avoiders may sabotage their financial success and/or give money away in an unconscious effort to have as little as possible. Money avoidance can be associated with trying to not think about money, ignoring financial statements, overspending, enabling others financially, having difficulty managing a budget, and even occupation. For example, individuals in the helping professions, such as psychologists and social workers, have a tendency to score higher in the area of Money Avoidance than those in other professions, such as business or financial advising.
Money Worshipers believe that the key to happiness and the solution to their problems is to have more money. At the same time, they believe that one can never have enough money, and find that the pursuit of money never quite satisfies them. The higher they score on Money Worship are more likely to have a lower net worth and carry credit card debt. Money Worshipers are prone to buying things in an attempt to achieve happiness. They are also more likely to put work ahead of family and give or loan money to others even though they can’t afford to do so.
Money Status seekers tend to link their self-worth with their net worth. They may prioritize outward displays of wealth, and as a result can be at risk of overspending. They may believe that if they live a virtuous life, the universe will take care of their financial needs. They may have grown up in lower socioeconomic environments and/or a household that prioritized the financial aspects of social standing. Those that score higher in the area of Money Status scale more likely to overspend, gambling excessively, financially dependent on others, and hiding expenditures from their spouses.
The Money Vigilant are alert, watchful, and concerned about their financial health. They believe it is important to save and for people to work for their money and not be given financial handouts. Those with higher Money Vigilance scores are positively associated with higher levels of financial health. The Money Vigilant are less likely to buy on credit. They also have a tendency to be somewhat anxious about their financial futures, inspiring them to save. While they have a tendency to be discrete about their financial status with others, they are less likely to keep financial secrets from their partners. While Money Vigilance encourages saving and frugality, it can also lead to excessive wariness or anxiety that can prevent one from enjoying the benefits and sense of security that money can provide.
Tips for Money Avoiders
Whether you are experiencing financial stress or you have negative associations with money or the wealthy, money avoidance can have a negative impact on your financial health. Below are some tips that can assist you in challenging and changing these beliefs:
Create a Ritual Around Becoming Financial Informed. Select a time and a place to review your financial situation. Examples: Weekly meeting with your business partner, a monthly meeting with your spouse, or a quarterly meeting with your OCCAM financial advisor.
Do Well, by Doing Good. Generate a list of ideas regarding how having money can be good for you and/or beneficial for the world (e.g. philanthropic pursuits). Share the list with a close friend or confidante. Or create a mantra for yourself, telling yourself why it is okay for you to have money. Keep the mantra or list near where you pay your bills or interact most with your personal finances. For example, in your wallet or by your computer.
Set Budgeting Goals and Reward yourself! Set achievable budgeting goals, and increase/stretch your goals over time. This way you do not deprive yourself, nor will you over-spend. 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. Thus, money worship beliefs are common, and even when they are destructive, are often supported and revered. It can be difficult to swim against the tide, but tempering the impulse to attach our happiness to our income, net worth, and possessions is good for us, for our relationships, and for our pocketbooks.
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, a great practice is to put time between your impulse to make a buy something and pulling the trigger on the purchase. 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, you may still end up making the purchase, but there is great value to 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 with whom you can share it? Just like with purchases, achieving wealth can quickly lose its luster unless we attach it to our values and goals. For most people, this involves spending time doing things we love with the people we love. When we attach money to our happiness, it can be difficult to curb our impulse to work harder and more hours, because we of course get rewarded with more money when we do so. However, when we keep our 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. For example, let them know, as a reminder to yourself and also as a reminder to them that they are special to you, that you are reserving particular evenings to be with them and to be fully present. It will recharge you and your relationships, and is much more likely to bring you happiness than money in and of itself will.
Give. It feels great to give to others, whether it is your favorite charity, or as a demonstration of love and support of friends and family members 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 others, or to give out of a sense of guilt or shame. Time spent in support of people and causes you love can be just as valuable, if not more, than a financial gesture.
Tips for Money Status Seeker
We live in a culture that associates financial status with social standing. It is normal to be attracted to latest and greatest; and 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; it 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: 1) Why am I buying this item? 2) What does buying this item do for me emotionally? 3) How long is that feeling likely to last? 4) How will I pay for this item? 5) How will I feel about this purchase next week? When you answer these questions, look for flaws in your logic, such as “buying this item will make me appear impressive or cool.” Try to feel the emotions you might experience as you are making the purchase: excitement, disappointment, stress, anxiety, shame, or fulfillment. What does naming your emotion 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 with a loved one or trusted advisor. This can be over dinner, on the second Tuesday of every month or some other time that works for you. The goal is to get your financial situation out into the open and to focus on it consciously and purposefully.
Strive to be Emotionally, Physically and Financially Healthy. Some people who endorse money status beliefs are quite financially successful. Their drive to secure their social status and gain access to the finer things in life have been successful. However, sometimes a drive for monetary success is accompanied by workaholism, which can have a negative impact on marriages, relationships with children, and physical and psychological well-being. 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. A common expression but one that is difficult for the Money Vigilant to fully embrace. Having financial comfort and security are critically important, but excessive anxiety and wariness around money can keep you up at night and can be bad for your health. The tips below are designed to help you responsibly enjoy your resources. Your OCCAM advisor can help you set up a financial plan to balance out your need for security with your need to enjoy what you have worked so hard to build.
Have Fun! Set a “fun-money” budget. Use your skills as a financial analyst and saver to put together a fun activity for yourself and/or your family. Taking a long vacation or buying yourself a new toy. Creating space in your budget to enjoy your hard work can pay dividends in feelings of gratitude and joy and 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 a lifetime spent in frugality, deprivation and saving if you never allow yourself or your family to enjoy it. The money vigilant have mastered the habit of saving, after decades of hard work and practice. In this same way, the money vigilant often need to practice shifting to spending money, now that they have reached their financial goals. Whether it is that trip you fantasized about taking or a visit to the spa for a massage, practice spending money on something ridiculous 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, and in many instances a little secrecy is even a good thing. Conversely, discussing your financial situation with someone that can provide insight and help you broaden your perspective can be really important.
While money vigilance is excellent in terms of one’s ability to save and live responsibly, don’t let your healthy vigilance turn into anxiety or a tendency to hoard out of fear. If you feel that watching over your financial situation is taking up more than an hour a week, keeping you up at night, or getting in the way of other hobbies or activities that you want to do, 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, consider 30 minutes each day or an hour every other day. Keep scaling back, and make a mental note or write out on a sticky note kept near your computer, that you are exactly where you need to be and are on track to meet your financial goals.
The Money Script assessment is a short assessment designed to help you gain insight into your own money belief system. Knowing yourself better is the best starting point for making changes and improving your overall financial health.
Your Money Script assessment results will help your OCCAM advisor have a deeper understanding of your belief system around money, which will help your advisor best communicate options with you.