What Is a Money Script (And How Does It Impact Your Finances?)

What Is a Money Script (And How Does It Impact Your Finances?)

Much of our daily behavior relies on habits. Take your morning routine. Do you jump right out of bed or do you snooze a few cycles? Are you a brush-your-teeth-before-breakfast or after- breakfast type of person? Do you tie your shoes with a single or double loop? Some of these things you might not even notice unless pointed out to you. They are learned behaviors and preferences that move you through the world, and they greatly impact your life. Researchers found this same principle applies to money.Your views, attitudes, and belief system about money shape the way you approach, discuss, and further your financial vision. The unwritten rules dictating your financial life are known as a money script.

Money scripts demonstrate your belief system about money and can illuminate both good and bad financial habits you’ve developed over the years. Knowing your money script can empower you to make actual, tactical changes to your financial life. 

What Are Money Scripts?

In 2011, financial psychologist Brad Klontz and his research team published a study in the Journal of Financial Therapy about people’s reactions to money-related statements like “It’s not polite to talk about money,” or “Things would be better if only I had more money.” 

These statements were meant to gauge people’s views and biases about money and how it operates in their lives. What Klontz and his team found was that people held four different systems of belief, which he called money scripts. He notes these beliefs are typically unconscious and likely learned during childhood and adolescence. 

Think back to the way your parents or guardians talked about money: 

  • Did they pinch pennies and maintain a frugal lifestyle?
  • Were they stressed about money?
  • How did they approach the topic of money with you, if at all?
  • Did they have disdain for people with either a lot of or very little money?

These questions help you think critically about money beliefs you’ve been internalizing for decades, and are correlated with your behavior and financial wellness. Let’s look at Klontz’s four money scripts and how they can help you understand your financial actions.

1. Money Avoidance

Does thinking about, talking about, or managing your money cause stress and anxiety? Do you envy people with more money? If so, you may fall into the money avoidance category. 

Money avoidance, Klontz found, is a fascinating paradox: someone can assume money is bad or tainted but still believe money will solve their problems. Money avoidance suggests that living without money elevates your moral status, which often leads to self-sabotage, doubt, and unhappiness with your wealth. 

Money avoidance may lead to giving away more money than you have (whether to family, friends, or charities) in an unconscious effort to decrease your worth.  Sticking to this script can also lead to not thinking about money, ignoring financial statements, and struggling to create and stick with a budget.

Actionable Resources to Fix Avoidance

Just because you fall into one of these scripts doesn’t mean the rest of your life is defined by them. Understanding your money script can help challenge you to make intentional improvements in your financial life. By employing healthy actions, you can assume a new outlook on how money affects your well being. 

Money avoiders benefit from:

  • Checking-in on your money.
    • Instead of saving your statements for another day, make today the day you look at your credit card bill. 
    • Throw away the budget not working for you and start from scratch. Use a digital platform or app to track your spending habits.
    • Set regular check-in intervals, (i.e. weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to bring added structure to your plan. 
  • Re-defining the role money plays in your life.
    • Right now you see money as a negative element. Re-think that space and list ways money can positively impact your life and others, like reaching your goals, eliminating debt, charitable giving, etc. 

2. Money Worship

Let’s start with a few money statements:

  • Money is the key to happiness.
  • Money can solve any problem.
  • There will never be enough money. 

Do any of these statements ring true for you? If so, you may fall into the category Klontz calls money worship. 

This mindset leads people to believe that money is the end-goal. In the quest for accumulating wealth as rapidly as possible, people are left with an empty void since there will never be “enough” money to meet their ever-changing wants. People may prioritize work over family and other relationships and tend to overspend to maintain their prized status. 

Money worship takes retail therapy to heart by seeking to buy new things to bring a sense of happiness, purpose, and meaning. The problem is money can’t buy happiness, and this habit ends up leaving people miserable and in debt. 

Tips to Make Money a Means, Not the End. 

Money is a tool to help achieve your goals. But when money takes center stage, goals and dreams fall to the wayside. Here’s how you can redefine where money falls on your priority list:

  • Bring your goals into focus.
    • Money is a vehicle to help reach your goals. When this gets blurry in the chase for more money, stop and think about your truest life goals. What’s at the top of the list? What do you value? How can your money bring about those values and goals? When money goes out of focus, your goals can take center stage.
  • Give with intention.
    • Building charitable contributions into your plan can structure your finances in support of personally meaningful causes and organizations that also help others. Giving shifts your gaze from chasing money to seeing it work in other’s lives. 
  • Curb impulse spending.
    • Let’s face it: shopping can be a thrill. It’s great to jump into a cozy new sweater or enjoy that new car smell, but the novelty wears off and can lead to buyer’s remorse. Before you purchase something new, take time to think about how that purchase fits with your goals. Does it further them or detract from them? Why do you want this new item? These questions get you thinking mindfully about what you purchase and why which can lead to better buying decisions.

3. Money Status

Closely linked to money worship, money status conflates net-worth and self-worth. This money script epitomizes the “Keeping Up with the Joneses” mentality. People lavishly overspend and maintain a lifestyle they can’t afford to impress those around them. This leads to lifestyle inflation which compromises their ability to save for the future.

Klontz’s research suggests a money status script can lead people to believe if they live a good life, the universe will reward them financially for their good behavior. He also found this script can lead to gambling and hiding spending habits from a spouse or family member.

Money status can be tough to deal with as society frequently pushes us to buy a house we can’t afford, upgrade our cars because we deserve it, and make random purchases under the guise of “self-care.” But this mindset doesn’t set you up for future success. 

How to Change the Definition

Money doesn’t define you. This can’t be said enough. While it might be hard to not indulge in the present, tracking your spending and saving will set you up for happiness in the future. When you manage your present money needs with foresight into your future needs, you can find that balance between saving for tomorrow and living for today. 

  • Strive for financial and emotional health.
    • In life and in money, there needs to be a balance. It’s critical to find a balance that works for you and aligns with your values and goals. 
  • Spend and save with intention.
    • When you spend with intention, you find you actually spend less. Before making a purchase, assess how it aligns with your goals and values. Is this purchase a bandaid or status symbol, or does it actually further your vision and improve your life?
    • The same idea applies to saving. When you have a goal for saving and investing money, you have more stake in its success. This brings about a more meaningful savings strategy so you can take that dream vacation, do your house remodel, send your kids to college, and retire with the lifestyle you want. 

4. Money Vigilance

This script involves people approaching their financial lives with swift practicality, logic, and thoughtfulness. Money vigilance tends to mean people view money as a byproduct of hard work, discipline, and frugality. People with this mindset aren’t waiting for a financial windfall or diligently scratching lottery tickets, instead, they approach money from a tactical perspective.

Unsurprisingly, Klontz views this script as the most financially stable and healthy one in the bunch. However, money vigilance can sometimes indicate a fear over one’s financial future, which can lead to anxiety and a lack of balance between spending and saving. This mindset can also mean people are private about finance matters and aren’t comfortable talking about their money with others. 

Tips to Save for Tomorrow and Live for Today

Money vigilant people can find it difficult to enjoy the money they have. Fears over the financial future can lead to anxiety, lack of sleep, and decreased life satisfaction. It’s key to find balance between spending and saving so you can enjoy your life now and in the future. 

Create a “fun” bucket in your savings account. This could be for anything you want — a day trip skydiving, dinner at your favorite restaurant, trying out a new hobby. Take time to enjoy the money you save. While frugality is an excellent trait, spending money on people, places, and experiences that mean something to you can lead to fulfillment and purpose. 

Rewrite Your Money Script

Remember, these money scripts aren’t set in stone and don’t have to define your future actions. Knowing how you relate to money now simply reveals previously undiscovered financial habits that can provide insight into how you view and manage money. 

No matter which category you fall into, take note of where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What steps can I take to improve my relationship with money?
  • How can I balance spending and saving?
  • What are my core values and are my current financial habits supporting those values?
  • In what ways can my goals better align with my financial actions?

Our team loves helping people build a life they love. It starts by having a healthy relationship with money and using that healthy money outlook to expand your life. Ready to learn more? Set up a call today.

How Practicing Gratitude Can Impact Your Finances

How Practicing Gratitude Can Impact Your Finances

Do you have an attitude of gratitude when it comes to your money? As silly as this may sound, practicing gratitude in your financial life can have a positive impact on your habits, mindset, and more. 

When you incorporate gratitude into your financial plan, you’re able to slow down and make better money decisions. You leverage your wealth to have a positive impact on the lives of others. More importantly, being grateful for your finances and for what you have can lead to you feeling more fulfilled in your daily life. 

Gratitude Can Prevent Overspending

Have you ever felt frustrated about where you’re at in life as you scroll through Instagram? While you’re scrolling, feeling down, you see an advertisement pop up in your feed for a new pair of workout leggings that you probably don’t need. But, because you’re already feeling a little down, you find yourself reaching for your wallet as you click through to the company’s website. 

This is a classic trap that many people fall into – and it’s not limited to targeted advertising on social media (although social media ads can definitely bust your budget if you’re not careful!). When you go through life feeling like your circumstances are less than what you need to be happy, you’re more likely to overspend to fill that void. 

Instead, if you focus on everything that you’re grateful for in your life on a daily basis, you don’t feel that same urge to “make up for” what’s not there. Working towards big goals in life, career, or finances, doesn’t mean you aren’t happy with what you have now. A daily gratitude practice can help to curb impulse spending and push you to stick to your budget. 

Stay Open to New Opportunities – and Make Wise Decisions When They Come Your Way

When was the last time you made a financial decision because you were afraid, or frustrated with your current circumstances? This pattern can show up in a number of ways, and doesn’t always directly connect to overspending. 

You find because you’re not feeling fulfilled in your current lifestyle, you take a job offer that pays more. However, it comes with more demanding hours and the position requirements don’t fit your career goals. You decide to move to a lower cost of living area because you wanted a bigger house. This also means your new neighborhood isn’t as conveniently located adding a longer commute and time away from family. 

In life, you’re going to have a number of opportunities and decisions that come your way. Some will positively impact your lifestyle, others will help you to increase your net worth, and some will do both. When you get a new opportunity or are faced with a big financial decision, it can be incredibly helpful to keep a gratitude mindset as you think through all of your options. 

When you’re grateful for what you already have, you’re able to honestly evaluate the pros and the cons of every financial decision you run into. You won’t be as likely to make decisions out of fear, or coming from a mindset of “not enough.” Instead, you’ll be empowered to make financial decisions that move you toward your long term goals, and positively impact both you and your family. 

Find Fulfillment (and Growth) in Your Finances

By focusing on what you’re grateful for, you’re more likely to feel fulfilled when it comes to your money. This has a number of positive benefits, including:

  • Doing a better job of sticking to your budget because you don’t feel like you need “more.” 
  • Setting goals and feeling accomplished as you work toward them. 
  • Enjoying the line items in your budget that are in line with your values – like time with family, or experiences with friends and loved ones.

However, feeling fulfilled in your finances has two other huge benefits that people often overlook. First, when you feel grateful for what you have in your life, you’re giving yourself the permission you need to leverage your wealth to positively impact the lives of others. This shows up in your financial plan as charitable giving, supporting a local community project, or even gifting money to a family member who’s fallen on tough times. 

There’s a psychological phenomenon that happens when you use your own wealth to improve someone else’s life. What many people don’t realize is that giving positively impacts your mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Studies have shown that the more people give, the more life satisfaction they report. Other studies indicate that charitable giving activates your brain’s pleasure centers that are connected to reward processing. It’s also been proven that engaging in charitable acts (volunteering or helping your family and community) can dramatically reduce mortality rates. In other words, you physically and mentally feel better when you give. 

The Abundance Mentality

The second often-overlooked benefit to practicing gratitude in your financial life is that the more you approach your money with an attitude of abundance, the more you attract additional abundance to you. This concept may sound a little woo-woo. I get it. It’s tough to wrap our minds around how feeling like you have enough could actually attract more abundance and wealth into your life. 

Many personal finance writers have discussed the scarcity mindset v. the abundance mindset. An abundance mindset means that you believe there’s plenty for everyone – and plenty for you. You maintain a positive outlook on your life and your money and don’t feel fearful about growing your wealth or accomplishing your goals. 

When you fear that there’s never enough, you fall into some of the negative financial habits discussed above – overspending or impulse purchases, and veering off course in a way that slows your ability to achieve your goals. However, when you have an abundance mindset, the opposite happens. 

If you genuinely believe there’s plenty to go around, and that you’re grateful for what you already have, you’re able to slow yourself down and take advantage of positive opportunities when they show up. Your ability to give to others and feel comfortable and confident in your own financial lifestyle gives you the flexibility you need to make future decisions that will continually increase abundance in your life. 

Creating a Gratitude-Focused Financial Plan

You may be thinking: How can I be grateful for my current financial state? I haven’t saved enough, I still have debt, and I’m nowhere near “perfect” when it comes to managing my money.

You’re not alone in thinking that your money isn’t a source of gratitude in your life. In fact, 30% of Americans are stressed about money constantly, regardless of their income or financial circumstances. So, rather than pivoting and focusing on feeling grateful about your lifestyle and your finances 100% of the time, it might be easier to start with a smaller step in the right direction. 

To start incorporating gratitude into your daily life, and your financial plan, try keeping a gratitude journal. This practice shouldn’t take you more than five minutes a day. Jot down 3-5 things you’re grateful for – and make just one of them about your money. It can even be something as small as: I’m grateful that I was able to spend $4 on a latte on my way to work this morning.

By slowly gearing your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your financial life, you’ll start feeling more gratitude when it comes to bigger financial decisions and reaping the rewards as a result.  

Not ready to start journaling daily? Start even smaller by having a conversation with your family, or just your spouse and partner, each day about one thing you’re grateful for. Sometimes just being able to vocalize your gratitude, and hear that your family is also grateful for what they have in their lives, is enough to trigger a more grateful life in a bigger way.

Where Do I Start?

Do you want to start a financial gratitude practice? Not sure where to start? Reach out! My team and I would love to help you build a more gratitude-focused financial plan.

Episode 80: Breaking Financial Behavioral Biases with Daniel Crosby

Episode 80: Breaking Financial Behavioral Biases with Daniel Crosby

Work Your Wealth
Work Your Wealth
Episode 80: Breaking Financial Behavioral Biases with Daniel Crosby

This week I sat down with psychologist and behavioral finance expert, Dr. Daniel Crosby to discuss the behavioral side of investing.

Educated at Brigham Young and Emory Universities, Dr. Crosby helps organizations understand the intersection of mind and markets. Dr. Crosby’s first book, Personal Benchmark: Integrating Behavioral Finance and Investment Management, was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, The Laws of Wealth, was named the best investment book of 2017 by the Axiom Business Book Awards and has been translated into 5 languages.

His latest work, The Behavioral Investor, is a comprehensive look at the neurology, physiology and psychology of sound financial decision-making. When he is not consulting around market psychology, Daniel enjoys exploring the American South, fanatically following St. Louis Cardinals baseball, and spending time with his wife and three children.


  • Why there’s such a resistance to the psychological side of money
  • How our choices are affected by externalities
  • How to identify and break the “herd mentality” in your investing
  • What the best investment portfolio looks like for you
  • Psychological tendencies that impact investment behavior
  • The importance of diversifying out of what you are comfortable with
  • Overcoming emotional connections to some of your investments
  • The balance between educating and empathizing
  • Questions to ask yourself about investments with emotional ties
  • How to take a “pre-mortem” look at your portfolio
  • The way your ego can derail your financial goals
  • The view you should take with long-term investing
  • How to prevent your emotional self from getting in the way of your investing self
  • The psychological benefit of the “set it and forget it” mentality
  • The lie many people tell themselves why they don’t need a financial planner




Episode 75: How to Manage Your Financial Anxiety

Episode 75: How to Manage Your Financial Anxiety

Work Your Wealth
Work Your Wealth
Episode 75: How to Manage Your Financial Anxiety

What Can I Do to Reduce My Financial Anxiety and Concerns About Money?

One of the fun parts of being a financial planner is getting to field and answer questions from clients and readers all around the country. In these Work Your Wealth episodes I’ll be taking time to address and answer questions I’ve come across from readers and clients throughout my career. Today I’m answering the above question.


  • How to manage your financial anxiety
  • Signs and symptoms of financial anxiety
  • Digging too far into the details isn’t always a good thing
  • Why playing the “What if” game needs to be limited
  • How you might be subconsciously trying to beat the market
  • Why ignoring your finances can be just as bad as being too detailed
  • Tools to counteract any financial anxiety you might have
  • The importance of knowing where things with your money stand
  • How a net worth statement can help reduce financial anxiety
  • Knowing your numbers is good for your health
  • How your goals can help reduce your financial anxiety
  • The significance of a financial plan for your peace of mind
  • How a financial plan can address many of the common fears around money
  • Focusing on worst case scenario is sometimes unrealistic
  • The worst-case scenario you’re telling yourself is not actually the worst case
  • How working with a financial planner can reduce some of your financial anxiety
  • The tools to have a less stressful 2019




Episode 80: Breaking Financial Behavioral Biases with Daniel Crosby

Episode 13: The Laws of Wealth and Psychology of Money with Daniel Crosby

Work Your Wealth
Work Your Wealth
Episode 13: The Laws of Wealth and Psychology of Money with Daniel Crosby


This week I had the chance to chat with Dr. Daniel Crosby, a behavioral finance expert.

Dr. Daniel Crosby is a behavioral finance expert, a sought after thought leader on market psychology, and the founder of Nocturne Capital. Dr. Crosby created the sentiment and valuation measures that serve as the overlay for Nocturne’s tactical strategy. His ideas have appeared in the Huffington Post, Think Advisor, and Risk Management, as well as columns for WealthManagement.com and Investment News.

Daniel was named one of Investment News “40 Under 40” and a financial blogger you should be reading by AARP. Daniel’s second book, “Personal Benchmark”, co-authored with Charles Widger of Brinker Capital, was a New York Times bestseller that outlines a highly personalized approach to investing that aligns intention with action while fostering an investment experience that is both enjoyable and rational.


  • What simple decisions are predictors of whether or not you reach your goals.
  • Why people who work with an advisor do better with their finances than those who don’t.
  • The number one thing people can do to streamline their investments.
  • How your ego is impacting your financial picture.
  • The impact establishing and following money rules can have in meeting your financial goals.
  • Why we think that money needs to be sexy (when it really doesn’t).