Money. Some call it the root of all evil, while for others it’s their main pursuit in life. Like it or not, everyone has a relationship with money. We all use it. We all need it. Our experiences with money are what shape our beliefs and influence our decisions.
I decided to analyze my subconscious beliefs and experiences with money and try to discover why I act the way I do. I’ve performed a number of assessments and tests to get a clear picture of my beliefs about money.
My plan is to share two experiences that were stepping stones in my life and the results from the four assessments.
We are conditioned in three primary ways in every area of life, including money:
Verbal programming: What did you hear when you were young?
Modeling: What did you see when you were young?
Specific incidents: What did you experience when you were young?
You’ll be taking a deep look inside my mind to learn about me. It’s your lucky day! I’m pulling the curtain back and sharing personal experiences that influenced my mindset and psychology.
How did you describe money when you were younger?
Last year I wrote about the Inner Game of Personal Finance. Check it out if behavioral finance and psychology interest you.
Two events that shaped my beliefs
A kid couldn’t have been more excited about Legos. I spent hours sitting on the living room floor constructing cities and worlds. Hours of intense focus trying to build something bigger and better.
My favorite Legos were the medieval time’s Legos with knights, dragons, horses, and castles. I loved swapping out the helmets with different plumes making my knights look bigger and meaner.
I was about six and loved going to the toy section and imagining what it would be like if I could play with every single Lego. One day, I was at Walmart with my father. He was a big part of my life at the time and he wanted to make his kids happy. Often he would buy us whatever we wanted.
That day, I saw a big box of Legos which was the coolest set I had ever seen. It was well over $100 and I had to have it. I pulled it off the shelf and told my dad I was not leaving without it. He grabbed it from me and put it back on the shelf and said, “no, I’m not getting you that.” He said, “it’s too expensive and we don’t have the money.” I thought, “how am I possibly going to survive?” I don’t remember how big of a temper tantrum I threw but I’m sure I caused a scene.
From a young age, I learned that if you want something you have to have money. After being told no, I thought to myself, “well then, how do I get money?”
The other earliest memory about money was around the same time. My mom took me to my cousin’s house to have a sleepover. Apparently, I didn’t want to part ways with my piggy bank and so I decided to take it with me. I’m not sure if I was scared of someone taking it, or if I was showing a little form of money status and wanted people to see the HUGE amount of money I had saved up (probably like $10).
Either way, I had my little piggy bank with me at my cousin’s house. My aunt thought it was great that I was concerned about saving money. She looked at me and said, “I wish I would’ve started saving money at your age.” She said, “If you keep saving money you can have anything you want.”
I felt empowered. My mom taught me the importance of saving money but this was confirmed after what my aunt said. This set the stage of the importance of saving money. I didn’t want to grow old and not have money.
Each experience has shaped my beliefs about money. So I decided to run four assessments to learn more about my psychology. It’s clear to see that what happened to me as a child has influenced my money scripts today.
Results from the four assessments
Finametrica is a questionnaire that financial advisors use with their clients to get an idea of their risk tolerance. Risk tolerance is how emotionally comfortable a person is with taking financial risk. For example, how much a person is willing for their portfolio to diminish for a chance to make bigger returns. To learn more you can visit www.finametrica.com.
Before I took the assessment I guessed my score would be 80 and I was pretty close.
“Your score is 76. This is an extremely high score, higher than 99.5% of all scores.”
As you can see from the bell curve, my risk tolerance is in the top 1% of risk groups. This is because I’m willing to take more risk now for higher potential gains in the future.
An example question from this assessment is:
“Investments can go up or down in value and experts often say you should be prepared to weather a downturn. By how much could the total value of all your investments go down before you would begin to feel uncomfortable?”
1. Any fall in value would make me feel uncomfortable.
3. 20%. ✓
6. More than 50%.
The keyword here is “start.” I surely wouldn’t want my investments to drop 20% but it’s something I fully expect to happen in the near future, if not every few years. But I’m fine with it because I’m investing for the long run and I know the market on average will rebound and rise over a long period of time.
The Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI)
The Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI) was designed to give financial professionals insight into money scripts that may be influencing their clients’ financial behaviors and financial outcomes. It’s open for anyone to take if you’re interested in learning what your dominant money script is.
The four identified money scripts are: (1) money avoidance; (2) money worship; (3) money status; and (4) money vigilance (Klontz and Britt 2012; Lawson et al. 2015).
Money avoiders think of money as being bad and say money as evil. They tend to avoid responsibility with money and believe that it’s taboo to discuss money. Money avoiders typically have a lower income, lower net worth, and suffer from workaholism, financial denial, and not sticking to a budget.
Individuals with money worship scripts believe that more money will make them happier and solve all their problems. Like money avoidance, money worship scripts are associated with poor financial outcomes.
People who hold the script of money status equate their self-worth to their net worth. They buy the next big-ticket item and try to “keep up with the Jones’” in order to appear as if they have “made it”.
The fourth money script is money vigilance. Clients with this money script believe strongly in the importance of saving, avoiding debt, and being responsible, and are concerned about their finances.
· Scores lower than or equal to 3: Suggest you do not exhibit the money script
· Scores between 3 and 4: Suggest you exhibit some characteristics of the money script
· Scores higher than 4: Suggest you exhibit many of the characteristics of the money script
My results are below:
1. Money Avoidance = 3.40
2. Money Worship = 3.14
3. Money Status = 4.86
4. Money Vigilance = 5.25
You can see that I exhibit some characteristics of money avoidance and money worship and then scored really high on the money status and money vigilance. If you’re interested in learning about your money scripts you can take the assessment at www.yourmentalwealthadvisors.com.
The third assessment performed was the Financial DNA. The graph below shows the 10 DNA Natural Behavior Styles in relation to one another. My style is Strategist. This helps me see my instinctive behavioral similarities and differences to other styles more clearly.
Based on the scores, my two strongest behavioral factors are:
Reserved – Analyzes, has high propensity to reflect, guarded
Pioneer – Sets direction, ambitious, committed to goals
Some of the behavioral biases that may naturally be exhibited with these factors are:
Overconfidence – Can think they are more successful at investing than they really are (this is true).
Mental Accounting – Likes to put money into separate buckets for specific purposes (this is very true)!
The results from the Financial DNA are fairly accurate. When I first saw the results, the section where it mentions mental accounting and how this type of person is more likely to place money into separate buckets for different purposes, I knew they hit the nail on the head because this is exactly what I do. If you’d like to learn more about the Financial DNA and discover what your Natural Behavior Style is, you can visit: www.financialdna.com.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an assessment that measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. According to the Myers-Briggs test, there are 16 different types of personalities.
My personality type is INTJ which means I exhibit the following characteristics:
Introvert(25%) iNtuitive(9%) Thinking(1%) Judging(22%)
You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (25%)
You have slight preference of Intuition over Sensing (9%)
You have marginal or no preference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
You have slight preference of Judging over Perceiving (22%)
If you’d like to learn about what your personality types is you can take the assessment at www.16personalities.com.
From each assessment, you can get a clearer picture of what your subconscious beliefs about money are.
Each of us has a personal money blueprint already embedded in our subconscious mind. And this blueprint, more than anything else will determine your financial outcomes.
Think of it as a blueprint for a house, which is a preset plan or design for a home. In the same way, your money blueprint is simply your preset program or way of being in relation to money. As you can see my financial blueprint consists primarily of the information or programming I received in the past, and especially as a young child.
We can see that past programming determines every thought that bubbles up in your mind.
If you want to change, you can follow Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change model. There are six key elements of change. Each of which is essential in reprogramming your beliefs about money.
The first and second elements of change are pre-contemplation and contemplation. You can’t change unless you know it exists.
The third element of change is preparation. You have to understand that your way of thinking comes from outside you and be willing to change.
The fourth element of change is action. Nothing will change unless you take action. You can separate yourself from people or thoughts. Get rid of those things that no longer serve you and focus your time and energy on what does.
The fifth element of change is maintenance. You have to be willing to maintain your new sense of direction.
The last element of change is relapse. You’re human and it’s ok to have setbacks or lose track of your goals. Remember to not let it destroy you or completely derail you.
No matter what experiences you’ve had growing up, they don’t have to stay a part of you. You have the ability to change or thoughts and your beliefs around money. Hopefully, what I’ve shared with you will help you understand that you are in control of your financial outcomes and your money history doesn’t have to determine your financial success in life. You get to choose.