Assessing Your Own Money Story: Your Patterns

I am constantly reminded in my role as a Certified Financial Planner how challenging money stories can be. To fully understand yours takes some introspection – it is hard work try to make sense of the psychology and the personal drivers behind your particular relationship with finances.

Bruce Lee expressed it so beautifully by saying “As you think, so shall you become”. I am reminded that this is why we do it. We are the ones that give meaning to money. And the meaning we give to it manifests in our self-statements and behavior. And once we understand our money story, we understand what we believe about finances, and why we have certain attitudes and behaviors around money.

And the hard part? You have to own your story! By owning your story, you can begin to understand all the money patterns that is governed by your story. How you spend your wealth, what you spend it on, whether you feel worthy of earning or spending it on yourself, these are money patterns. And some patterns can be debilitating.

So how do we explore these money beliefs and make it more conscious?

A good starting point is to look for clues in your past that will help you to understand your current financial life. Start by spending time considering the very root of your relationship with wealth and try to make sense of how these patterns were formed. Ask yourself: How did your parents talk and behave around wealth; what did your parents tell you about it?

For example, if one of your early money memories was hearing your parents telling you that you have to work hard for what you have, then this could influence how you view money today.

Here are some money patterns that I often come across in client meetings:

  • the feeling of not being worthy of earning wealth,
  • the irrational fear of losing all your hard-earned wealth, and
  • the fear of not having enough wealth and the incapability of spending it on yourself.

My suggestion is to write your thoughts about money down. Once they are written down on paper, it is much easier to look at them objectively, compartmentalize and understand them. Click here to find out about toxic stress patterns.

Now, write down what you believe about wealth today. What do you use it to express or do? Here are some pointers to think about: How do you spend finances on yourself; why spend it on others; do you use wealth as a reward, to create opportunity, to control or punish? Believe me, this process is not as simple as it seems. But once we get through this process, and understand where wealth fits into our lives, whether it’s serving us or whether we need to make changes to the story, the mindshift begins to happen.

Owning your story is important. Being accountable is to understand that it is not something that “happens” to you, but something you can control. Embrace that you will no longer be the victim of your money story, but the conqueror, the hero, the one in charge.

In the next article we will start looking at how we can change our money story.

To catch up, read the first article in the series on how to take ownership of your money story.