First Person: My Family’s Clashing Money Habits

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When it comes to how we approach money, each member of my family follows a completely different "money script." Even though we have lived together all of these years, we seem to have different core beliefs about money. According to a recent article by the Detroit News, people's unconscious views of money are often formed in childhood and drive their financial behavior in adulthood. Living in a family of people with different money scripts can be extremely challenging. Yet, we have found a way to accept one another even though we don't understand the other's money mindset. According to financial psychologists, there are four types of money scripts.

Money avoidance

My husband follows the "money avoidance" money script. Experts say people with this money script believe that they don't really deserve money. Deep down, they feel money is bad and that rich people are greedy. When I met my husband, he didn't have a lot of debt, but he also didn't have much in savings. He would rather spend his money on playing Magic: The Gathering and travelling for tournaments. I'm worried he may sabotage our financial security by spending too much on his decks. In order to get along in our family, he agreed to have money automatically taken out of his paycheck and invested in a 401(k) plan at work. As long as he can blow a certain amount of money every month on his hobbies and games, he doesn't stop me from saving.

Money worship

I am the "money worshipper" in our family, although I try to keep it in check. According to financial psychologists, I am the type that believes money will solve all my problems. Money, I tell myself, will bring power and happiness as well as freedom. My motto is that a person can never have too much money. From past experience, I have found that many problems in life can be solved with money. I've been able to get along in my family better by following Suze Orman's rule about "people first, then money and then things." I like to have money just to have money, which is why I invest in the stock market. But when I think about putting people before money, I loosen up.

Money status

My older son believes in owning the best and the newest. Of all the people in our family, he is the most comfortable with having credit card debt. Even when we had to travel across the country to visit his grandmother, he would complain if I stayed in budget hotels. When he grew up one day, he planned to stay in the luxury hotels. Now that he is a young adult, my son has learned to compromise. He still goes to the movie theater to see the newest releases instead of waiting, but he is learning to follow a budget. He knows if he wants to spend more, he needs to make more. Having a credit card with a small credit limit has made it easier for him to manage his debt.

Money vigilance

My younger son has exceptionally good impulse control. He saves money instead of blowing it, but he can be too frugal. He is worried about having enough money in cases of emergencies. If anything, his only challenge with money is being willing to spend it. He balances out our family, though, because we couldn't handle too many spenders. As it is, my husband and older son are the main spenders, although they spend for different reasons. My younger son and I are the savers, although we have different motivations for saving.

I think we are fortunate to have different money personalities because we end up with a more balanced household. We avoid clashing by making compromises. I don't think we'd even know how to compromise if it weren't for the other money habits or money scripts we see played out in our family.

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More from this contributor:

5 Old-School Money Tricks I Live By

When I Don't Follow a Millionaire's Advice

Taking the 'Spent' Challenge


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