“Delving into our money memories helps us to gain insight into the things that have consciously and subconsciously influenced how we think and feel about money—and how we handle finances.”
Christine Mathieu is a Financial Life Planning® Advisor and the author of “From Wisdom to Wealth: Insights to Creating Your Path to Wealth.”
My first money memory revolved around being a “have not” in a world of “haves”.
Seeing how those with money lived different lives and more importantly were treated differently, I “learnt” that money brings you status and from a position of low self-worth I wanted some of that status.
And even if I couldn’t afford it, I wanted it too look like I had lots of money so I would become acceptable.
This led to some pretty poor financial decisions.
It is clear our money memories have a big impact on our adult life, mostly in unconscious ways.
It is worthwhile starting to be curious around our money actions and the potential cause which we may find hidden in our memory banks.
I have told many clients to start monitoring their money thoughts to uncover any limiting beliefs and memories around them and in fact it is an exercise that I have done and continue to do myself.
However, while I think this is a useful and valid exercise it is missing an important aspect. It is totally focused on the negative money memories. We also need to turn this on its head and start to look for the positive money memories we may already be using to implement good money habits or that we could use to build our good money habits from. Even in the worst of money scenario’s they will be something constructive we can take from that.
These three questions could start the ball rolling to uncovering some positive take-ways.
What money actions did your parents take that taught you a positive lesson?
We have built a lot of negative beliefs around the things our parents used to say to us as children, “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, “Who do you think we are, the Rockefeller’s? and “We can’t afford that”.
But one client I had, took this in a positive manner. She decided if money didn’t grow on trees, she would work for it and started a leaf raking/snow shovelling business as a young teen.
Maybe you didn’t have this opportunity or this wasn’t you as a teen. I know for certain the thought of making my own money at that stage never crossed my mind but now in looking back with positive eyes I realise there are a number of positives I can learn from these statements.
Don’t spend money you don’t have.
So we aren’t the Rockefellers, but how did the Rockefellers become the Rockefellers. There could be some life lessons in finding out!
And ok, so we can’t afford that now, but if I really truly wanted it, I could save for it.
Was there someone who was an example of what good money choices can lead to
I did encounter many people with money growing up. My best friend came from a wealthy family and seemed to have a life filled with exotic locations and extravagances.
My obsession at that point with differentiating between the haves and the have-nots meant I only focused on being the have-not and what I didn’t have.
I was so envious that I missed out on the golden lessons I could have learnt from knowing her family.
The story behind all they had that I only later discovered was that her father had not had money growing up, but he had worked hard for the life he had built for his family and besides his strong work ethic he was extremely passionate about his business, his family time and having a balanced life.
There are so many key points in this experience that could have been positives; Where you start from does not have to be where you end, work hard for what you want, be passionate about giving value in all that you do and work to maintain a balance between all the things that are meaningful to you. This is the recipe for a good life. I wish I had been open to learning this sooner !
Was there a negative money lesson you learnt as a child that could provide a positive push in your current money journey?
My mother was notoriously bad with debt. Unconsciously I have always had a strong aversion to owing anything and even during my darkest super spending days I avoided debt.
In looking back I realise that this lesson of not getting in over your head on debt has been a lifesaver in terms of not letting my overspending create a bigger, longer problem than it was causing at the time and for this I’m now extremely grateful.
It is a pivotal exercise identifying our limiting money mindsets and the negative money experiences that they caused but I would argue that it is equally powerful to identify the good money lessons some of these experiences have left you with. I truly believe the universal law of balance always leaves us with 2 sides of the coin it is just up to us to open our eyes to the positive aspects. If there are negative one’s by this law, there are positives somewhere there as well.