Recently I received a copy of Mind Over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health by Drs. Brad and Ted Klontz. If you’re familiar with Suze Orman, then the basic tenet that we’re all influenced by money lessons, or money scripts, that we learn as children will be familiar. The doctors identity several common types of scripts and provide exercises for overcoming them.
Part 1: The Big Lie
Part one details all of the forces that influence our relationship to money. The primary force is simply our animal nature. The human brain still carries some reptilian and simian aspects that make it difficult for us to have a purely rational relationship to money. Instead, we react emotionally, and that can lead us to make bad choices. In addition, our human penchant for mimicry, which is how we initially learn to speak, leads us to internalize our parents’ negative money scripts, often to our own detriment.
The doctors explain not only how that wreaks havoc on our own lives, but on the lives of others and our financial system. This book was written in midst of the financial collapse, and some of their conclusions are quite fitting to our current economic state.
Part 2: Money Disorders
The meat of the book is part two, which outlines several money disorders that may strike all of us. Some of them may seem to be beneficial, but they can be harmful when carried to an extreme. If you’re deeply afraid of financial risk, excessively frugal, or the reverse: always taking excessive risk or overspending, you may have a money disorder, but these aren’t the only types of disorders.
Money-Avoidance Disorders include: financial denial, financial rejection, underspending, and excessive risk aversion.
Money-Worshipping Disorders include: hoarding, taking unreasonable risks/gambling addiction, workaholism, overspending/shopping addiction.
Relational Money Disorders include: financial infidelity, financial incest, financial enabling, financial dependency.
As you read through the book, you’ll probably recognize some of these traits in yourself. Although we don’t all have severe disorders, we probably each battle some unhealthy money attitudes. Or, you and your spouse could have opposing disorders or attitudes that wreak havoc on the marriage and family finances.
The Relational Money Disorders were the most interesting to me. Financial infidelity is probably one the most common – that’s hiding money or spending from your spouse or partner. Financial incest is when parents use money to control their children. Financial enabling is a compulsive need to give money to others, even when it’s not in their best interest. Financial dependency is becoming dependent on another person to give you money or manage your finances, which is common among women of older generations.
If you buy the book, you can access a quiz on their website that identifies your likely financial disorders. Mine indicated a potential for hoarding and a potential for financial infidelity, although I felt I was more likely to be an underspender than anything else.
Part 3: Beating Your Money Disorders
In part three, the doctors provide exercises and tools to help you overcome your money disorders and repair your relationship to money. They don’t promise that it’s easy, but they do promise you’ll be better off for it.
Overall, I thought this was a great book for anyone suffering from repeated money problems. It’s one thing to fall on hard times once or twice, that happens to many of us, but if it seems to happen again and again, or if shame, fear, or compulsion drive your financial habits, then this is a great start on the road to recovery.