Money avoiders believe they are undeserving of money or that money is bad. They often practice noble poverty and believe that wealthy people are greedy or corrupt. Because of their negative associations with money and wealth, money avoiders may sabotage their financial success and/or give money away in an unconscious effort to have as little as possible. Research shows if you have a tendency to ignore bank statements, have difficulty sticking to a budget, feel overwhelming angst about others’ beliefs or practices with money, you could have a money avoidance script. A script is an internal dialogue or set of deep-seated beliefs. According to Dr. Brad Klontz, in Mind Over Money, here are the most common thought patterns of money avoidant people.

Financial Denial – It’s best not to think about money.
Financial Rejection – Money is the root of all evil. People who care about money are bad.
Excessive Risk Aversion – I will never trust anyone else with my money.
Underspending – It’s extravagant to spend money on myself.

Money worshipers are convinced that more money and more possessions will make them happy and solve their problems. At the same time, they never believe they have enough money. These individuals are likely to have lower income, lower net worth, and credit card debt. Research shows that money worshippers can spend as much as 30% extra particularly when spending on a credit card or gift card. These individuals are also more likely to spend compulsively, hoard, and put work or other forms of being busy ahead of family.

Compulsive HoardingThere will never be enough.
Workaholism I have to work hard to make sure there’s enough money. I have to be busy all the time to feel like I’m enough.
Unreasonable Risk Taking or Pathological Gambling – If I just keep trying my day will come.
Overspending or Compulsive Buying – I need this now. I need multiples of a good find.

Relational money disorders are tangled up with dynamics, secrets and dishonesty. Money is a deep source of shame for many people, that’s why it remains such a taboo topic. At the same time, money is so powerful, it can easily become an instrument of control or even abuse. Individuals suffering from relational money disorders often wreak havoc on their own and others’ emotional and financial lives. Parents, in particular, face the challenge of talking about money in empowering and age appropriate ways without burdening their children with too many details or lengthy descriptions of family difficulties. People with these disorders may give money to others even though they can’t afford it and are more likely to be financially dependent on others.

Financial InfidelityIt’s okay to keep secrets from my partner about money.
Financial IncestSpending money on someone is how I show love.
Financial EnablingIf I hold others financially responsible, they will reject me.
Financial DependenceThere will always be someone I can turn to for money.

You can assess your own financial health at Dr. Klontz’s website Your Mental Wealth. Do any of the above money scripts resonate? Here are some ways to improve your financial health today:

  • tell the truth about your behavior, needs and financial goals
  • apply the Three A’s: Awareness – Admit you are powerless over (insert problematic behavior here). Acceptance – Believe there is a solution and you can be restored to sanity. Action – Make a decision to change your behavior.
  • make an explicit plan including allotted money, spending limits and a time-frame (usually 30-60 days to start) then reflect – Is this working for me? Is this working for you? Is this working for our relationship? If anyone answers “no”, renegotiate the plan to terms everyone can live with.
  • create a sustainable payback plan for past mistakes or wishy-washy personal loans
  • pray/meditate
  • take advantage of a myriad of free tools: SF Money Coach, Financial Recovery Institute, Richard Kiyosaki, Suze Orman, and David Bach
  • choose a financial confidant – someone who is trustworthy, non-judgmental, compassionate and has the ability to listen without offering advice
  • get professional help from a money coach, counselor, accountant, financial planner, clergy member, psychologist or social worker

Remember, no situation is really hopeless and it is possible to find contentment, and even happiness, in your relationship with money.