Money attitudes and money scripts

Wow. I haven’t posted anything in six weeks. That’s probably because I was feeling a bit pessimistic. Mmmm… Does that mean I only blog when I’m happy?

So I’m changing my attitude, and I’m going to start reading more about personal finance, and jotting down notes and thoughts on this blog. Alexa Mason wrote: “Reading frugality-related material is a great way to motivate yourself and find fresh ideas.” It’s one of the ways to constantly improve yourself.

I haven’t read a personal finance book since March, but I check out items in my “Financial Fitness” Twitter list almost daily. The past four days, I’ve been going through the MoneyNing archives. One of my recent favorites – How To Figure Out Your Money Script and Change the Way You Look At Money – cites Anne Kates Smith of Kiplinger about the importance of journaling:

“Keep a journal, jotting down thoughts that pop up in any given financial situation. The scripts are there, subconsciously driving behavior. Journaling slows the process, and it captures patterns in your thinking. Once you’re aware of the patterns, you can work on changing them. Say you’ve had a bad day at work and your first impulse is to go shopping. Journaling puts some time between the impulse and the action, allowing you to make a conscious decision to, say, spend time with friends instead.”

In that post, Emily Guy Birken wrote that the four scripts are as following:

  1. Money Avoidance | Other common scripts in this category include “I don’t deserve this inheritance” or “Rich people are unethical or evil” or “It’s not okay to have money when others go without.” These scripts are based upon the idea that money is a source of anxiety, fear, or disgust — and that living with less money is a kind of virtue.
  2. Money Worship, on the other hand, is based on the idea thatmoney can lead to happiness and fulfillment. Common scripts in this category include “I’ll be happy if I have more/spend more money” and “You can never be too rich.” If you follow Money Worship scripts, it can lead to things like workaholism, compulsive spending, or hoarding.
  3. Money Status scripts conflate net worth with self-worth. If you have Money Status scripts, you might think “Success is measured by how much money I make” or “My possessions reflect my importance and worth.” Individuals with Money Status scripts will often be vulnerable to debt (because they feel the need to keep up appearances) and get-rich-quick schemes (since they want a shortcut to that feeling of self-worth).
  4. Finally, Money Vigilance scripts tend to be fairly helpful, rather than harmful. Individuals with these scripts will think“Saving for the future is important” and “I have to research all purchases to make certain I get the best deal.” While these scripts can generally help your finances, if taken too far, they can have a negative effect on your psyche.

Interesting. Before this year, I was didn’t have a script that fit into these categories. I wasn’t actively thinking about money. Now, I’m proud to say that I can check off the Money Vigilance box.

I have to be super vigilant this week. After paying bills Friday, I put $150 back into my savings. I had borrowed against myself in a rough patch. The “disposable income” (because no income is really disposable) has been cut down a bit, but I was so happy to see that savings account balance move up.

For the next two weeks, I’m going to challenge myself to live off the $200 cash I withdrew from the bank. The cash-only system will keep me in check because I can see a finite amount of money leaving my hands – something I can’t do with a debit card. A large chunk of that money – $70 – is already going to my hairstylist Tuesday. I’m optimistic that I can handle this. It’s only two weeks. Cheers to the frugal life.

Here are some other MoneyNing articles that I enjoyed reading:

  1. 7 Frugal Habits Everyone Should Develop
  2. How to Motivate Yourself to Better Finances in the New Year (Pick something that matters + Measure your progress + Hold yourself accountable)
  3. Find Your Frugality with These 5 Easy Tips
  4. Why Frugality is Hard For You (And What to Do About It) (Includes: 7 Tips for Budgeting Without Suffocating)
  5. The Danger of Complacent Saving
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