What does money mean to you? When it comes to financial decisions, like saving money, we all have different money personalities that affect the way we handle finances.
Whether you’re a saver or spender, there are underlying psychological reasons why some people prioritize saving while others don’t.
Being a good saver is not a function of income. Rather, it’s often a function of our beliefs about money, often deeply rooted and connected with our upbringing and passed down from previous generations. Those beliefs can drive our financial behaviors in adulthood.
Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors
When it comes to saving and achieving financial goals, it’s important to understand both your strengths and challenges when managing money.
Financial psychologist Dr. Brad Klontz says that everyone has a money script worth investigating. Money scripts are typically unconscious beliefs about money that are responsible for our financial behaviors.
There are three money scripts that are associated with lower financial health — including lower net worth:
The belief that money is bad, not important or you don’t deserve it.
The belief that more money or things will make you happier. This script is often associated with higher credit card debt and lower net worth.
The belief that your self-worth equals your net-worth and put a premium on buying the newest and best things.
A contrasting money script associated with frugality and high savers is Money Vigilance. While this is the best script to have,it’s also associated with anxiety and money secrecy, which can have drawbacks.
“If you can’t shift gears around savings anxiety, constantly obsessing over money and feeling like you will never have enough saved, you won’t be able to enjoy your resources,” says Klontz.
Carried to an extreme, each of these scripts can make it very difficult to achieve your financial goals, so finding balance is important.
Combating Money Scripts to Reach Financial Goals
Dr. Klontz says being aware of your money script is the first step in implementing change and the related destructive behaviors. Once you figure out your money script, you will be able to make better decisions and achieve your financial goals.
In his book, Wired For Wealth, Dr. Klontz says that to successfully change your money script, three conditions have to be met:
- First, you must believe the change is necessary.
- Second, you must have confidence and ability to make the change happen.
- Third, be mentally, physically and emotionally ready to make the change.
One way to conquer your dysfunctional money script is to keep a journal, jotting down thoughts that develop during a financial situation. Journaling helps to capture your thought pattern, so you make a conscientious effort to correct it.
Modifying your money beliefs can help to reduce unhealthy behaviors that your child may subconsciously develop from you — thus breaking the cycle of harmful financial conduct.
With America Saves Week upon us, it’s the perfect time to assess your money script and see how you can better manage your money behaviors and beliefs in order to reach your savings goals.
The benefits of saving can not only boost your overall happiness, it can also help you face the unknown and provide peace of mind, according to a 2013 Money and Happiness survey by Ally Bank.
“Regardless of how you’re wired when it comes to saving, it is important to overcome those obstacles for your own financial benefit, both now and in the future. Increasing your direct deposit and automatic retirement contributions may be especially valuable to those that aren’t born savers,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.com.
What’s your money script? If you’re a vigilant saver, what tips can you offer others to boost their savings and money behaviors?
Ally participates in America Saves Week, which promotes good saving habits and resources. Visit Ally Wallet Wise for helpful resources and to learn more about the basics of budgeting, credit, investing and auto finance.