A money story makes up your personal beliefs, emotions, and thoughts around money. Your money story starts forming in childhood and is passed down from your caregiver, culture, and other influences in your young life. Your money story can have good and bad chapters. Understanding how these different chapters can affect your life as an adult is crucial.
Money can bring up a lot of different emotions, such as guilt, shame, anger, stress, fear, pride, happiness, joy, and many more. Many of these emotions stem from your childhood and memories around money. Some memories may be about your parents arguing over money or bills. Other memories could be that every Friday was payday for your grandmother, and that is when you got to go out for ice cream. Your memories might be more traumatic: every other Friday when your father got paid, he would go to the package store or disappear from the home for several days because he was at the casino. Maybe at the beginning of the month, your caregiver received food stamps but sold half of them, so you ran out of food each month. No matter what it is, we all have a connection to money that plays into our money story.
Your money story may affect your decisions about where to work, buying a house or not, saving money in a bank, and many other things. For example, your family owned a home when you were a child and always mentioned how buying a home was a “money trap” because they always had to pay to fix something in the home and felt it would have been a better financial decision to just rent (which is ok to do). But now you are an adult, and you never explored the option of buying a home because you will always have the belief that buying a home is the worst financial decision.
Another example is your great-grandfather, who was affected by the Great Depression and lost all his money in the banks, and due to this, he has passed on that banks are never to be trusted. As a result of this, your caregiver keeps cash hidden under the mattress and teaches you to do the same. Sometimes these behavioral habits of keeping cash under your mattress may go unexplained, which is why it is so important for you to understand your family’s money story.
The last example I will share of a money story is your caregiver who suffered with depression, and to cope with their struggles, they would spend money. Spending money gave them instant gratification but then left them feeling shame and guilt when it was time to pay the bills at the end of each month. As a result of what you witnessed, you handle stress or uneasy situations by spending money. Many of us have internalized negative beliefs about money that no matter how hard we work at it, these beliefs impact our financial lives.
How do you start your money story?
To identify your money story, you will have to dig deep. You will have to think back on times that may not have been so easy. Start asking yourself these questions:
What is your earliest childhood memory about money?
How do you remember your caregiver handling money?
Did your caregivers often argue about money?
Did one caregiver hide their purchases?
Some clues to your money story are maybe that you tell yourself, “I am not good with money. No one in my family is good with money. Student loan debt will always be there and is never going away. Only rich people do this. Money doesn’t grow on trees.” These narratives can add to your money story and play a role in how you start to formulate your money story. You can change these narratives once you understand the root of where they come from.
When you start reflecting upon your past interactions with money, you must pick out common themes in your behavior. When you find the common theme, you can ask yourself, “Why.” This is a good way to start thinking of your money story, but it could be further explored in financial therapy.
Financial therapy is a process informed by therapeutic and financial competencies that help people think, feel, communicate, and behave differently with money to improve overall well-being through evidence-based practices and interventions (www.financialtherapy.com).
You can change your money story and your relationship with money. One of the first changes you can make to your financial life is to know your money story. When you are aware of your financial behaviors and traumas, you can work to change them. Not all money stories are bad, but it’s important to remember that all money stories influence our daily lives. You can work to rewrite a new money story by working through any financial trauma or limited beliefs with a financial therapist. We cannot change the past, but we can forgive ourselves and understand our past financial mistakes.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: LaQueshia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and an Accredited Financial Counselor(AFC). She earned her Master’s Degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts. She works as a Financial Therapist within her own private practice (www.freedomlifetherapy.com) and also works as a Public Defender Social Worker for the State of Connecticut. As a dynamic and skilled social worker, beginning in 2010, she started her career working with youth and families across the lifespan in a variety of settings. Currently, LaQueshia focuses her private practice on the emotional impact clients encounter around personal finances.
LaQueshia Clemons, LCSW, AFC®
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-woman-counting-money-6694539/
May Is Mental Health Month 2023
"Look Around, Look Within"
May is Mental Health Month, a time to spread public awareness and education about mental health disorders and reflect on the impact of mental illness on individuals and their families.
The theme of this year's Mental Health Month is to take some time to "Look Around, Look Within." The goal this May is to challenge yourself to examine your world and how it can affect your overall mental health – from your neighborhood to genetics, many factors come into play when it comes to mental health.
It is also a time to recognize and commit to changing the racial and economic inequities in our healthcare system, particularly with respect to mental health.
www.rtor.org and Laurel House are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice and to making mental health services accessible to all.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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