Do you know and understand your money script? Our beliefs about money begin taking shape early in life. Unpacking stories from our youth can help us decipher why we make the decisions we make as adults. Identifying unconscious influences may reveal what we tell ourselves when it comes to money, and why we continue to make decisions that harm us.

A Kansas State University study published in the Journal of Financial Therapy identified four money beliefs, or “money scripts,” that can drive our behavior.

Money scripts are neither right nor wrong. They are simply the financial lens through which we view the world. That’s why it is important to understand your money script.

  1. Money Avoidance: Common thinking here is that good people should not care about money; you tell yourself that living with less money is a virtue. Taken too far, money becomes a source of anxiety, fear or disgust.
  2. Money Worship: Money worshipers believe money is the route to happiness and fulfillment. This script says you can never have enough; it’s impossible to be poor and happy. This may lead to compulsive shopping and the pursuit of wealth above all else.
  3. Money Status: Similar to worshipers, those with a status belief equate net-worth and self-worth. This is where “keeping up with the Joneses” comes into play, and it can lead to hefty debt.
  4. Money Vigilance: This belief drives cautious and careful spending. At its extreme, it can create anxiety and prevent you from enjoying the money you worked so hard to save.

Do any of these money scripts sound like your internal dialogue? Do they support your life goals, or create roadblocks on your path? If it’s the latter, take comfort in knowing these scripts are not set in stone. You can rewrite them.

Intentionally creating better habits is the first step in rewriting your money scripts and getting closer to your goals.