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  • Emlen Miles-Mattingly

The Psychology of Money and Your Triggers

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Did you know that there is a definite connection between money, your behavior, and your mind?


I recently had a chance to talk to Dr. Megan Lurtz about the psychology of money. She is the current president of The Financial Therapy Association, a Professor of Practice at Kansas State University in the Advanced Financial Planning Department, and a Senior Research Associate at Kitces.com, a popular financial planning blog dedicated to heightening and educating the financial planning profession.


I met Meghaan at the XYPN live conference when I walked up to her table and asked: “What is financial therapy?”


That’s what originally sparked our conversation. She has extensive experience dealing with people, and their money.


That experience includes the psychology between people and their money!


Mother Knows Best


Meghaan credits her mother with where she is today.


Her mother, who was the Chief Technology Officer for the financial planning software Total Rebalance Expert that was later sold to Morningstar, encouraged Meghaan to come work with the company.


Later, at a T.D. Ameritrade conference, she talked to Dr. Barry Mulholland, who suggested she call Kent State University, which she did.


That’s when she signed up for the Master’s Certificate in Financial Therapy. It only took one class to convince her to get a Ph.D. (which she did at Kansas State University). Her coursework delved into the psychology of money.


Working at her mother’s company got began the journey to where she is today!


What is financial therapy?


Financial therapy is about money, but it's more about the relational and emotional aspects that come with money.


Money says different things for different people:

  • I'm responsible

  • I'm irresponsible

  • I love you

  • I hate you


Money says or represents things that are those deeper emotional and relational things. Financial therapy is interested in diving into the psychology of money.


It’s the intersection between financial planning, and people running into these emotional issues.


Money Scripts


Which events in your life have shaped your relationship with money?


Anytime two people come into a relationship they bring with them their own money script. It’s the sum total of the events and relationships that you've had with money.


It may be something that you learned from your parents. It’s usually talked about in a general fashion, such as one person may be a spender, and the other person may be a saver.


It begins with events that happened in your past. An example might be you had a rough childhood. Now you feel compelled to save as much money as possible.


When two people have their own money scripts get married, then start raising children together, those money scripts may come up, and cause problems.


You really don’t know how to talk about them. If you go see a financial planner, they’ll make sure that you're ready for retirement. If you go see the therapist, they’ll make sure that the marriage is working.


There is rarely a blend of what is needed to get past money conflicts.


Meghaan’s Example


Meghaan told me that her husband is an only child, and he grew up in a very comfortable household. There was never talked about money a lot.


She also grew up in a very comfortable household. She grew up with her mother telling her you should to be able to take care of yourself financially.


That doesn't sound like a negative thing to tell a young woman. Meghaan considered it a good thing. Women should be able to take care of themselves financially. However, it always sounded like a warning.


When Meghaan became engaged to her husband, he suggested that they combine bank accounts because they were buying a house together.


Meghaan reports that hearing that made her angry, but she didn't know where her anger was coming from.


She said she told her husband, “I don't know what's wrong with you. if you think you're going to control me with your money, you're crazy. I don't want to share a bank account with you. I don't want to do it now, and I don't want to do it ever. We're going to buy this home together, I'll just transfer you the money from my own bank account. I don't want to know what you make, and you definitely don't need to know what I make.”


She said her husband was not expecting such an emotional reaction, and she wasn't sure where this emotional reaction was coming from.


It just so happened three months later, she was in one of her Financial Therapy courses on relationships and therapy, learning about her money history, which included her great grandmother being married to the town drunk. He did awful things like selling the dog to buy booze. if there was money in the house, they had to hide the money.


Her grandfather left her grandmother with her five children and took everything. Her grandmother had to sell priceless possessions to put food on the table.


In her family history, men caused emotional trauma.


Her mother, on the other hand, owned a company and was comfortable, and independent. Her parents divorced, but it wasn't for financial reasons.


Her mother set an example of going to work every day. They talked about money and Meghaan knew her mother was financially independent of her husband.


That brings us to Meghaan, who was raised with an undercurrent of fear surrounding being able to take care of yourself.


That class illuminated her emotional reaction to her husband’s request to have joint bank accounts.


As Meghaan points out if we don't know what those emotional triggers are they can be disruptive to us as individuals, or in our relationships.


Do you understand the impact that the psychology of money has on your life? Find the Minority Money Podcast Community on FB to share!


Hey, hey... thanks for checking out the blog and the show with Louis.

By now, I hope you know I'm here to support you on your journey of being on solid financial ground.


If you want or need to reach out to me, please visit:

my firm site at GenNext Wealth

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