Money Monday #3: What's your money script
Ever since I can remember, I've struggled with money. Allowances, paychecks from my first job, they all seemed to go up in smoke. I'd have the money one minute and it would be gone the next. I grew up in a working-class household where company layoffs and union strikes happened on a terrifying regularity. You would think that the constant threat to income would turn me into a saver.
I never saw the behind the scenes. I knew when my mom was working on the budget, but I never looked over her shoulder. It wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I learned we had gone without health insurance for a time. That revelation made me wonder just how bad things were. And how clueless I had been.
As a kid, I just knew that if we bought things on sale we would always have enough. That became part of my money script.
How my money script developed
Barbara Stanny's book Overcoming Underearning introduced me to the idea that we all have a money story created from our childhood experiences. While reading her book, I did her sentence completion exercise. Here are the eye-opening statements about my perspective on money:
- My biggest fear about money is that I won't have enough to meet basic needs and that I will forever be living paycheck to paycheck
- My father felt money was - honestly I have no idea, I never heard him talk about money
- My mother felt money was - to be earned, but only so much because there was such a thing as too much money
- In my family, money caused turmoil and stress
- My early experience with money was of not having enough, of hearing the words "we can't afford that"
- Money equals stress
- I'm afraid if I had more money I would become selfish, thoughtless, greedy, materialistic
- To have more money, I'd need to sacrifice myself and my time
- When I have more money, I usually spend it immediately
- If I could afford it, I would travel more
- People with money are materialistic, lack compassion and empathy, limited to their world
It's really no wonder I struggle with money if these are my attitudes about it. And then I took the Money Script Test. My results say that I have a high Money Avoidance score and a high Money Worship score. What does that mean?
Those that have a high Money Avoidance score tend to think that wealthy people are greedy or corrupt, that it is virtuous to live with less money. And yet, my high Money Worship score means that I am convinced that the key to happiness and the solution to all my problems is to have more money.
Yep, I see a glaring issue with those two mindsets. Trust me, not lost on me at all.
In a nutshell here is my full money script...
Money equals struggle. To get more of it, I have to sacrifice my time with friends, family, and myself. It means working long hours and working to exhaustion. And once I have money, it means I've sacrificed my values. There is such a thing as too much money, but no matter what, I always have just enough to get by.
What if I believed the opposite
While reading Overcoming Underearning, I did an exercise where I took a belief about money and swapped them. Here's what I wrote...
- Making money is greedy
- Making money leads to freedom and the ability to help others
- Making money requires sacrificing my values
- I can make money while supporting my personal values. Those values are compassion, knowledge, truth, gratitude, and growth (I've since clarified my values to growth, discovery, trust, and indepedence)
- You can have too much money
- When earning and having money supports gratitude, growth,and compassion, there is no such thing as too much
- Money leads to materialism
- Money supports my values of gratitude and compassion
- Having money will make me selfish and unable to see the struggle of others
- See above
- Making more money will mean no personal life
- Making money will allow me to provide wonderful family experiences without anxiety and stress
I wrote those words almost exactly four years ago (2/23/14).
And I'm still struggling with money. Seriously. I guess self-help books only work when you do something with what you read.
So what's the opposite of my money script?
Money equals freedom. Money equals freedom from stress and offers stability and security. Money is a tool to support my values and my passions. The more money I have available to me, the more I can support my values and provide stability for my family. I can earn money without sacrificing other priorities.
How do I get from one script to the other?
It's time for some letting go. I can have the best intentions in the world, but until I let go of my current money story, as well as the shame and regret surrounding my past financial decisions, I'm not going to get anywhere.
I have an abundance of techniques to choose from. I can free-write, I can try EFT, I can create a ritual of self-forgiveness and letting go. There are so many options available. I could even do a little of each.
But I have to actually let go. I'm famously good as saying my intention is to let go, but then I hold on tight. Hence nothing changing in the four years since I started exploring my money story.
No Shopping Update
Lists and lists of things I want to buy keep popping into my brain. There's an internal debate raging on regarding the first thing I will buy when the ban is lifted. Considering how often I talk myself out of buying something I want, this is just ridiculous.
Underbuyers beware, shopping bans are no joke, even for us.
I did run into a snag and had to dip into my savings. I have been closely following my budget, but I'm using Every Dollar this month instead of YNAB. I love the concept of YNAB, which is that you only spend/budget the money you have. But for whatever reason, I always seem to screw things up and need to do a Fresh Start every other month.
Every Dollar, by Dave Ramsey, is straight forward. Here's my expected income for the month (which I rounded down to the nearest "whole amount", so $448 is $445). And then plan out my expenses (which I rounded up in the same fashion). Which should mean I have money leftover at the end of the month that can go into savings or toward debt.
But I don't receive all my income at once. And Every Dollar is a month-to-month budget. I paid a big chunk of my expenses, not realizing it would put me at a negative balance for about a week of the month. Ugh.
Thankfully I have enough savings to cover me and once my check comes in, I can replace the funds.* Lesson learned and now time to figure out a solution before March gets here.
What's your favorite budgeting software? Let me know in the comments below. Or tell me about your money script.
*The universe is testing my resolve to make more responsible choices. Just as I faced this situation, my Tax refund was deposited in my account. I already have these funds bookmarked (this gal needs a new fridge and lawn mower), so I'm pretending they don't even exist right now.