Cleaning Out Our Emotional "Money Beds"

The other evening I was putting my little guy to bed for the night and I was absolutely shocked at the amount of stuff that kid had tucked away in his bed. Where on earth did it even come from?!? Obviously, it was stuff that he had collected over time and put there. All of it a treasure to him at some point, I’ve no doubt. Some of it was useful (to him): a flashlight, a few books, his favorite stuffed animal of the moment, and his beloved brown blanket. I understood why those “valuable” items would be tucked in right next to him. But there was also a wide assortment of… well… crap. Scraps of paper, random hair ties, a variety of mismatched toys, and perhaps, even a cup of old rotten milk (yikes!). As I was clearing out his bed to make room for… ahem… him, I reflected on how much his bed and our emotional “money beds” seem to mirror one another.

Here’s how.

When we were small children we began to pick up our views of money from the world around us. Primarily, we got them from within our homes and our family, because that is where our little world tended to be focused. So, in our home setting, we took whichever money-view happened to be laying around and, if it seemed valuable enough, we tucked it right into bed next to us, for safe keeping.

Now, as a small child, every one of the money-views that we chose to keep in our beds was seemingly important. Maybe one was important because mom or dad said it was. Maybe another seemed important because it brought a certain amount of joy or the feeling of safety. There are a million reasons for a kid to attach value to something. Nevertheless, the little money-view “treasure” that was collected was somehow very significant to us, so we held on to it, hid it under our blankets and never let it go.

Truth be told though, most of those “treasures” that we laid up for ourselves all those years ago, are actually just… well… crap. Sure, there might be something useful mixed in with all of the unnecessary, but those real gems are far outnumbered by useless pieces of trash that just ended up cluttering our emotional money beds.

A little illustration of this point:

I was once talking with a friend of mine, we’ll call her Angela, about one of the memories she had of money when she was a child. During the course of this conversation, Angela relayed to me that when she was around the age of eight her father quit his job to stay home with his family. At some point fairly soon after Angela’s dad quit his job she remembers going to the store with him. For the first time in young Angela’s life, dad told her that they need to stick to budget while at the store. This astounded little Angela. It was new, and different, and obviously very important.

Coincidentally, also around the same time as dad quitting his job, a psychic medium randomly began to call and leave messages on the family’s answering machine saying that there “are financial troubles looming ahead”.

At this point in her life, Angela’s impressionable mind picked up, and held onto, three “valuable” little “treasures” concerning money.

1.       Dad quit his job (we’ve lost our income)
2.       Now we must live on a budget
3.       There is financial trouble coming

All of this equated to exactly one thing for eight-year old Angela:
We must spend carefully, because we are on the verge of going broke!

But remember, this memory comes from an eight-year old’s perspective. In reality, it is possible that dad always used a budget, but this was just the first time Angela had seen it in action. Or maybe, there was plenty of money squirreled away, but dad was just trying to be extra responsible in light of the change in circumstances. Who is to say for sure? Not little Angela. She was only looking at a teeny, tiny part of the picture.

As for the psychic medium – most likely a telemarketer trying to solicit new clients. But, of course, the little girl didn’t perceive it that way.

To this day, the money script that Angela picked up stays with her. She continues to operate under the message that she formed for herself as child, “Be careful, or you will go broke.”

Because of this created money message, Angela is a very pennywise person. She lives quite frugally and sometimes she even has difficulty spending money.  Even though Angela has enough for her needs, she watches every penny and the thought of spending carelessly creates some stress and anxiety for her.

While being economical is a great skill to have for managing money, it can also, sometimes, become unnecessarily extreme. Money is meant to be enjoyed. It is meant to give our lives meaning and to help us bring happiness to those around us. The money message that Angela created for herself as a child no longer works. In fact, it is holding her back from creating something better for herself.

One of the first steps on the path to financial success is taking a good look at the money messages that we’ve created for ourselves as impressionable young children. They once served a purpose in our minds (to keep us safe, to make us feel loved, to help us make sense of the world) but now that we are adults we need to re-evaluate them, with the logic of an adult. In most cases we will see that they are not accurate, they no longer serve a purpose, or they are keeping us from moving ahead in the direction that we want to go. Once we understand the messages we’ve created and how they influence our view of money we can decide, as an adult, if we want to keep them next to us, or if we’d rather just let them go.

Sorting through our emotional money bed can be difficult and will certainly take some time. But, I promise, once all the trash is cleared out, you will be able to sleep easy, knowing that you have only the most valuable items tucked in right beside you.

 

 

What in the H$!! is a Money Coach Anyway?

These days there are certainly lots of professionals in the money management arena. So much so, the titles get a little bit confusing. Financial Planner, Financial Counselor, Financial Advisor, Accountant, Investment Advisor, Lifetime Planning Advisor… (yawn)… who even knows what all those guys do?

Now we want to throw money coach in there, too?!? Why on earth does anyone need one more financial guru?

Simple - For years, all of these areas of finance have been lacking in one critical area. They haven’t taken into account the HUMAN EMOTION side of money. 

They are all about savings, and investing, budgets, and spreadsheets. They are the, “put your money exactly where/when/how I tell you to,” crew. They are the paper side of money, the FLAT side. And, they certainly don’t care what you know (or don’t know) about money. After all, their business relies on THEM being the experts of your money. 

Money coaches want to put back what has been long missing in money management. YOU – ALL of you. Your whole physiological, emotional, physical you.
 
Money coaches are about transformation. They are the messy, chaotic, crazy, beautiful life side of money. A money coach’s trade is about helping you become a better version of yourself. Helping you understand your money in your own way and allowing YOU to be your own money expert.  

Ok. So I think I understand how a money coach is different, but is this emotional side of money management even a real thing? How can it possibly make a difference?

You betcha, it’s real!

Interior finance, a phrase coined by Dr.’s Ted and Brad Klontz, is the internal (or emotional) aspect of money management. Weird, right? 

Well… maybe not so weird after all…

Think about it.  How many times do you react emotionally, rather than logically, when it comes to your money? 

Ever fight with your partner over spending?
Ever make a purchase you immediately feel guilty about?
Ever feel gloomy thinking about the bills that are piling up? 
Ever “just have to have it right now!” buy something (shoes, or a camera, or a smart phone, or *insert your own version of bliss here*) even though you know you don’t exactly have money for it?

These are all examples or our emotions dictating how we view our money, and it actually happens much more than you’d think. That’s the dirty little secret that those other money guru’s don’t want you to know. They like to act like spending money is logical. Bring home A, Save B, Spend C, etc. They have everything in charts and columns and refuse to accept that there is more to the equation than “just follow the spending plan”.

But come on, we both know that it isn’t always that easy. More often than not, when the “logic” of money just isn’t working it is because the “emotions” of money are getting in the way. And, unless the internal (emotional) aspect of money is understood, and controlled, budgets won’t work, savings won’t materialize, and you will continue to struggle with money. 

Enter money coach! (Duh da da DA!)

A money coach that focuses on the internal aspect of money is there to help you understand where those emotions are coming from and how exactly they are getting in the way of your financial success. Once all that’s out in the open, a good money coach will help you move past those nasty little spending habits that are holding you back, getting them out of the way once and for all so you don’t have to struggle anymore. As the interior world of money gets less messy, so does the exterior (outside) world of money. It’s a neat phenomenon that they work directly hand in hand with each other. Heal the inside and the outside begins to fall into place.  

Yes, financial success actually begins on the inside! 

Imagine… buying that little piece of bliss because the bills are all paid, you have the money to spend, and you know that you won’t feel guilty about it, even for one second. 

Now that’s what a healthy relationship with money looks like!