The four money scripts you need to know
“Money solves everything”.
You’ve probably heard friends and family say this from time to time. You may have uttered it yourself. But what does a statement like this really say about how we think about money?
In 2011, ground-breaking financial psychologist Dr Brad Klontz published a study in the Journal of Financial Therapy to explore what these types of statements – what he coined as ‘money scripts’ – said about a person’s money beliefs.
What his research found was that money scripts can have a profound effect on our financial wellbeing with money, and are typically formed by the time we are 9 or 10. Not surprisingly they are often passed on through the generations, which was Dr Klontz’s own experience in his family.
Uncovering why and how your own money scripts were formed can be a powerful way of understanding why you hold certain beliefs, and identifying if they are hindering or enhancing your relationship with money.
Start by asking yourself questions like: What are your earliest memories about money growing up? How do those memories make you feel? Would you say your parents were good or bad with money? Was money spoken about in your home or was it a taboo topic? How do you feel those memories are influencing you as an adult?
Next, view your answers in light of the four categories that summarise money scripts. At Tribeca, we use slightly different terms to describe the categories originated by Dr Klontz. We call them Money Procrastination, Money Devotion, Money Reputation, and Money Caution.
So here’s our take on what each script means and what they say about your money beliefs.
Watch this recent interview with Money Script guru Dr Brad Klontz
“If I don’t think about it, the problem will go away on its own.”
Money Procrastinators have negative associations with money. They are usually ashamed to have money and feel they don’t deserve it. Characteristics include: self-sabotage, ignoring bills and financial statements, overspending, giving away more money than they can afford, difficulty managing a budget.
If you relate to this script, a great way to counteract these feelings is setting a regular money date with your partner or a friend to help keep you on track with your spending and overall finances.
“Money solves everything”.
Money Devotees believe that the key to happiness and the solution to their problems is to have more money. Characteristics include: credit card debt, prioritise work over family, buy things in an attempt to achieve happiness.
If you relate to this script, the best way to start thinking about your spending is asking yourself is it a want or a need? If it’s a need, go ahead and buy it. If it’s a want, ensure you have enough set aside for discretionary spending before purchasing it.
“I need the latest items to prove how successful I am.”
Those falling under the Money Reputation category believe that their self-worth is linked to their net worth. Characteristics include: overspending, hiding expenses from loved ones, grew up in a household that prioritised financial status, overworking.
If you relate to this script, try sharing your financial situation with friends or family (when you feel comfortable enough). You’ll be surprised by how supportive your network can be, and how many people feel the same way.
“I need to save as much as I can just in case.”
The Money Cautious are alert, cautious and concerned about their financial health. Characteristics include: more likely to have high financial wellness, rarely buy on credit, frugal and enjoy saving money, less likely to keep financial secrets from their partner, can be overly worried about money.
If you relate to this script, it’s important that you don’t miss out on opportunities to enjoy life. Make sure you set aside funds to treat yourself to memorable experiences – whether that’s just for you or with family and friends.
Want help with managing your budget and cashflow. See our Tribeca Tracker.
Which money script category best describes you? You may not just be in one. The important thing to remember is this is just another helpful way of understanding your relationship with money – and how you can improve it.
Don’t worry if you identify with a script that you would like to change. That’s a good thing, as the more you learn about your money beliefs the greater chance you will have of achieving your goals and aspirations.
So here’s a few basic tips to build better financial habits whichever script applies to you:
- Set small, achievable goals.
- Always have something to work towards to give yourself a challenge.
- Own your financial situation. Regularly monitor your fixed and discretionary spending to ensure you stay on track.
- Communicate with your partner – never underestimate how important it is to be on the same page and understand each other’s money scripts.
And of course, we’re here to help. Money scripts is just one of the tools we can use to establish some clarity around your attitudes to finances, and identify the best way we can work with you to achieve your Good Life.