Quick Quiz: What Do Money and Success Mean to You?

Dear Rich Lifer,

The U.S. unemployment rate has been massively affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Some states are undergoing rates higher than ever — this includes the Great Depression.

There’s no doubt most Americans watching the news are feeling financially anxious.

But how you feel about money right now will significantly impact how you save, spend and plan for the future in these coming months. 

That’s why it’s important we talk about your “Money Scripts.” 

A few years after the 2008 market crash, a research associate professor at Kansas State University named Brad Klontz published a study called Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Script Inventory.

Motivation for the study came from trying to understand what drove the housing market bubble to burst.

If you think, “Well that’s easy! Wall Street.” Klontz would challenge you.

He says, “The predatory lending and the greedy people on Wall Street certainly played a role in this, but what led you to buy a house you couldn’t afford, even if someone let you do it? If you’re willing to look at the answer to that, the likelihood of you making the same mistakes diminishes greatly.”

Klontz’ point is: bubbles don’t happen in isolation. They take many people to buy in. 

While circumstances now are obviously different, the outcome could be one and the same. 

Those of us prepared for financial disaster will hopefully ride this out, and those caught swimming without trunks, well…  

In Klontz’ study, he asked 422 people about 72 money-related beliefs and then analyzed correlations among the answers. 

What Klontz found were four broad categories called “Money Scripts” that most people fall into: money avoidance, money worship, money status and money vigilance.

Klontz believes these Money Scripts are developed early in life and are frequently passed from one generation to the next. 

What’s interesting about Klontz’ findings is that three out of the four scripts are linked to potentially destructive financial behaviors. 

A Quick Quiz 

Take a minute and answer these three questions: 

 

Things would get better if I had more money. 

 

Strongly agree?

Agree? 

Agree a litte?

Disagree a little?

Disagree?

Strongly disagree? 

 

I do not deserve a lot of money when others have less than me. 

 

Strongly agree?

Agree? 

Agree a litte?

Disagree a little?

Disagree?

Strongly disagree? 

 

You should not tell others how much money you have or make.

 

Strongly agree?

Agree? 

Agree a litte?

Disagree a little?

Disagree?

Strongly disagree? 

 

These are examples of some of the questions from the Klontz’ questionnaire. Based on your answers to the 72 question test, you’d be awarded a score rating your affinity to each Money Script. 

What does each of the four Money Scripts mean? 

Money Avoidance

Avoiders believe that money is the root of all evil and that they don’t deserve it. This group may be worried about abusing credit cards and may ignore their own financial well-being. 

People in this group tend to have low incomes and net worth. They also tend to be younger.

Money Worship

Money worshippers believe that more money will solve all their problems. They are more likely to overspend on themselves or others and carry credit card debt. 

Money worship is the most common belief among Americans, says Klontz.

Money Status

Anxiety about money status happens when people’s self-worth is linked to their net worth. These people often take bigger financial risks because they want to have the stories of big gains to impress their friends. 

Money Vigilance 

People who are money vigilant believe that being frugal and saving is important. They don’t like to share information about their income or wealth, but they also don’t spend foolishly. 

Money vigilant people don’t necessarily have higher incomes. But they do pay off their credit card bills each month. 

Out of the four groups, the only one that did not have any significant negative impact financially were the money vigilant.

Not surprisingly, these money scripts show us that our financial hang ups have less to do with money than what money represents.

What was surprising though is the study found few links between who held what belief and their family background, race, gender, education level or income.

Klontz says, “The majority of the people rated their highest level of education as either a college or graduate degree. Their income was equally divided into four categories, from less than $30,000 a year to more than $100,000. And their childhood economic status was generally middle class, with only a few reporting that they grew up poor or wealthy. In fact, the only link to family background came from the group that fixated on money as a way to gain status: mostly, they grew up poor.”

So What Does All This Mean for You? 

There’s a reason why 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies get employees to do personality tests. The same logic is true for your money. 

By understanding your beliefs around money and how these beliefs influence your decisions, you’ll be able to make better choices with your finances going forward. This will prove useful as we all begin tightening our belts. 

Here’s what we want you to do: 

Spend the next half hour thinking about your money beliefs. 

Ask yourself, what are your philosophies and values around spending, debt, saving, and earning? Then think about the four Money Scripts and which ones you relate to. 

We promise it’ll be time well spent. 

To a richer life, 

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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