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  • Writer's pictureJohn Krehbiel

Money is Emotional: Money Scripts

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Do any of these “money scripts” describe your attitude towards money (or your spouse’s)?

  1. Money avoidance: People who fall into this category believe that money is bad and is often a source of anxiety or disgust. This may result in a hostile attitude toward the wealthy.

  2. Money worship: Money worshippers believe that you can never have enough money. These people may shop compulsively, hoard their belongings, and put work ahead of relationships in the ongoing quest for wealth.

  3. Money status: These people equate net worth with self-worth, believing that money is the key to both happiness and power. They may live lavishly in an attempt to keep up with or even beat the Joneses, incurring heavy debt in the process.

  4. Money vigilance: Money vigilants are cautious and sometimes overly anxious about money, but they also live within their means, pay off their credit cards every month, and save for the future. However, they risk carrying a level of anxiety so high that they cannot enjoy the fruits of their labor or ever feel a sense of financial security.

Financial psychologist Brad Klontz et al identified these four “money belief patterns,” also known as “money scripts,” that influence how people view money (1). These scripts are “typically unconscious, trans-generational beliefs about money” that are “developed in childhood and drive adult financial behaviors.” (2)

Financial Planning to the Rescue?

Personal financial planners often deal with their clients’ “money scripts” as much as their actual finances. When a husband and wife have different money scripts, a financial planner can be especially useful. Having an unbiased, but compassionate, third party who is talking about goals, dreams, plans, math and logic can often be a key part of reducing money stresses in a family.

Fortunately, software tools for analyzing multi-year financial plans have greatly improved in the last few years to include compelling graphs and visualizations, not just numbers. They can generate highly personalized models about a client’s specific situation. But sometimes the financial plan output collides with the client’s money script. Then peace of mind can only be achieved through discussions about the reality of their financial position and how they want their money to support the life they want. When this happens, the financial planner become more of a counselor. This is fine, because the planner’s goal should be the client’s financial well-being and peace of mind.

Bottom Line:

We all have emotional attitudes about money or “money scripts”. An outside person can often help you become aware of these scripts and improve your financial peace of mind.

Notes: (1) “Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors,” The Journal of Financial Therapy, Volume 2, Issue 1 (2) Financial Planning Association, accessed October 24, 2017

John Krehbiel is an independent, fee-for-advice, financial planner who specializes in helping busy couples and tech professionals in Brevard County, Florida. Krehbiel Financial LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of Florida. The information in this article should not be relied upon for the purposes of transacting securities or other investments. You should consult with a financial advisor or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.

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