It’s a good idea to be cautious about anything that promises a quick fix, whether it’s an “instant” weight loss product, an “effortless” exercise gimmick, or a “simple” solution to all your money woes.
I was hesitant, then, when SELF magazine wanted to publish an article on financial therapy by freelance writer Sushma Subramanian. She had already interviewed me, but the magazine wanted us to spend a couple hours doing “financial therapy makeovers” for three women.
The financial therapy workshops I have helped create extend five days. The challenge was to distill core elements of the program into an experience that would take only a few hours but that would still have some value for the participants.
What I decided to do was a combination of a mini financial plan, some work on the women’s money scripts, and a one-hour phone consultation with both financial therapist Dave Jetson and me.
First, each woman completed a mini financial plan assessment, called a “Financial Roadmap.” I had them use a link on my homepage to BoulevardR, which supplies the financial engine behind the assessment. This provided a summary of her financial situation for each participant and for me.
Next, we had each of them do a money scripts exercise to reveal what they thought, felt, and believed about money. I recorded the exercise and put it on my website. Each woman was able to download the materials and follow along with the instructional video. The result was that each of them identified and emailed me her top ten money scripts.
Armed with their financial data and their money scripts, Dave and I met with each woman by phone for one hour. We went over their money scripts and gave them feedback. We helped them see how their money beliefs, formed in childhood, were tied to their current behavior about money.
The results were beyond my expectation. All three women were excited about the experience and found it eye-opening. Within a very short period of time, each one made some amazing changes in the way she used money in her life. The SELF article, published in the October issue and available here, didn’t have space to give anything but the most brief summary of their experience.
This experience made me realize once again just how important it is to identify our money scripts. The five-day financial therapy workshops I co-facilitate use the money scripts exercise as one small part of the overall group experience. There is very little individual feedback about participants’ money scripts. Yet just doing that one exercise and receiving an hour of financial coaching helped these women make significant progress toward financial balance.
As a result, I’ve decided to add this exercise and consultation to the services I offer clients and also make it available to non-clients through my website. This is a concrete way for someone to experience a taste of the transformative power of financial therapy.
I tell clients that you can’t create a roadmap to where you want to go until you know exactly where you’re starting from. Identifying your money scripts is a crucial piece of information to help clarify that starting point. Understanding why we make the money choices we do can be an “aha” moment that helps us make sense of our money behavior, including our money mistakes.
That understanding is not quite a “quick fix” for all financial ills, but it can help people make major shifts in the way they think and feel about money. Such a shift is an essential part of learning to make healthier money choices.