Our childhood experiences and the way our parents related to us have imprinted certain thought patterns and behaviors that we carry into our interpersonal relationships. Many therapists call these imprints “love styles.” Similarly, both conscious and unconscious belief systems about money that were developed during our childhood through our parents can also imprint our “money styles” as adults, according to financial therapists.
If you’ve never heard of a financial therapist before, that’s because the concept of financial therapy is relatively new. Founded in 2008, the Financial Therapy Association (FTA) defines financial therapy as “the integration of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, relational and financial aspects of well-being.” In other words, financial therapy combines financial counseling and financial planning with personal counseling, marriage and family therapy, sociology, social work, and psychology to provide holistic financial solutions.
Everyone has both functional and dysfunctional views about money that informs most, if not all their financial decisions. These views are mostly driven by what therapists call “family of origin” issues (e.g. did your parents instill in you the belief that money was always scarce, or that budgets were bad?) Financial therapy can help you identify what types of beliefs and habits, a.k.a. “money scripts” you are practicing that may be supporting or preventing you from accomplishing your financial objectives.
Financial therapy researchers have identified four core categories of money scripts:
1) Money avoiders: believe money is bad, wealthy people are inherently greedy and/or that they don’t deserve money.
2) Money worshippers: think money will solve all their problems, there is never enough money, and/or that money brings power and happiness.
3) Money status: equate self-worth to net worth, and tend to put a high value on buying name brands, and/or the newest and best things.
4) Money vigilance: believe in the importance of frugality, saving, and being discreet about how much money they have or earn. Have healthy concerns about ensuring money is saved in case of an emergency.
Which money script do you live by? You can find out by taking the brief quiz below developed by renowned financial therapy researcher Dr. Brad Klontz:
(DISCLAIMER: The purpose of the quiz is not to diagnose, but is simply an informational tool.)
As you take the quiz, I encourage you to keep in mind that you don’t have to have money issues to have money scripts, and if you do identify with one or more money scripts (as I do), that is completely normal. It is only when these scripts become a roadblock to achieving your financial goals or are eliciting extreme behaviors (e.g. compulsive buying or hoarding, workaholism, financial enabling, or financial incest to name a few) that the support of a financial therapist may be helpful.
While a financial therapist should never offer financial advice like a Certified Financial Planner does (just like a financial planner should never offer therapy), they can partner with a CFP practitioner by utilizing a therapeutic process to help facilitate better communication with their clients, and to guide clients to implement financial behavior changes that will help keep them moving on the right financial track.
To learn more about financial therapy or to find a financial therapist in your area, visit www.financialtherapyassociation.org.
Guest Post by Kathleen Boyd
Kathleen is our new Summer Associate here at Inspired Financial. She is currently a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Financial Planning and Therapy program at Kansas State University.
Sages, R.A., & Britt, S. L. (2012). Introducing clients to financial therapy. Trust & Estates, 1519 (3), 31.
Klontz, B. T., & Britt, S. L. (2012). How Clients’ Money Scripts Predict Their Financial Behaviors. Journal of Financial Planning.