People tell themselves all sorts of things about money like: money should be saved and not spent or I won’t buy something unless it’s new or people get rich by taking advantage of others, or there will never be enough money.
According to authors Brad Klontz, Rick Kahler and Ted Kouthz, what we’ve told ourselves over the years about money – they call them money scripts – has programmed us to behave in specific ways toward money.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing, and of course, there are extremes.
Kathleen Riester, the financial readiness program manager, and Tim Rolfe, the family advocacy program manager, are launching a new class to help people identify what scripts they’ve been programmed by and how understanding those scripts can improve their financial health.
“Money scripts are our subconscious thoughts about money, as well as our value system towards money,” Riester said. “But what we do as we become adults is we never examine these money scripts.”
Riester went on the say the problem with never examining why you treat money the way you do can become a problem when your financial situation changes.
She gave an example of one client who was in his 70s. He’d lived through the tail end of the Great Depression, which had a significant impact on forming his attitudes for money. He was programmed to save, save, save. You can understand why someone would feel that way if they lived through a time where money was unpredictable and hard to come by.
Riester said the client had never taken a sick day or missed a day of work. He was extremely frugal and had saved somewhere in the ballpark of $1 million throughout his career. He just couldn’t bring himself to spend any of it.
“His wife, I asked her, is there someplace you always wanted to visit, and she very sheepishly said ‘I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska,’” Riester said. “So, I looked at the gentleman, and I said, ‘You know, you need to take some time off work and take your wife to Alaska.’”
Identifying those scripts is only one component of the class. The other is changing those scripts and becoming more financially healthy.
“That’s where I come in,” Rolfe said. “A lot of people are just gathering information. Other people are at the point where they are ready to at least make some concessions for the changes they feel like they need to make, and others are actually forming plans and putting that into practice.”
Rolfe is aware of the stress financial burdens can place on families.
“There was a really great case example in the book that I want to explore with the class,” he said. “It features a woman who developed these money scripts in childhood and adopted these practices, and these thoughts, and these values in her adulthood. And it actually started creating some financial difficulties, but once she became aware of what was going on, she was then able to start a road to recovery.”
The class will be first-come, first-serve on Feb. 25 in Toftoy Hall, room 222, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. There is no charge for the class.