Wishing For The Midas Touch? Exploring Money Worship

by | Sep 13, 2021 | *Financial Awakenings, Healthy Money Relationships, Money Psychology, Weekly Column

In the second of this four-part series on money scripts, let’s explore the category that Dr. Brad Klontz calls Money Worship.

Unless you have always envied the mythical “golden touch” of King Midas, you may be quick to dismiss the possibility of being someone who worships money. However, your dominant money scripts may fit into this category if they are like the following: “Things would get better if I had more money,” “More money will make me happier,” and “Money would solve all of my problems.”

Research has found that those with Money Worship scripts tend to have lower levels of education, income, and net worth, as well as higher levels of credit card debt. Interestingly, the self-defeating money behaviors associated with Money Worship scripts are similar to those around Money Avoidance, including compulsive buying disorder, hoarding disorder, financial dependence, financial enabling, financial denial, and workaholism.

There is truth to the belief that more money can make a person happier. Research finds that there is a direct correlation to happiness and more money, up to an income of roughly $75,000. After that, there is little correlation between making more money and actually being happier.

This makes sense when we consider the stress and unhappiness that come with being unable to provide adequately for yourself and your family. In that case, more money is indeed likely to make things better and solve many problems. Once you have enough to live comfortably, more money becomes less relevant to happiness.

However, when you deeply believe more money will result in more happiness, fewer problems, and a better life—and that doesn’t happen when you have more money—the logical conclusion is that you underestimated the amount needed. The equally logical solution is to raise the bar. If an income of $100,000 didn’t result in happiness, maybe $125,000 will do the trick. Or $150,000, or $200,000. Most folks that fall into this category rarely get to a place financially where they feel that they have “enough.” They may also reach a point where accumulating more money becomes, not just the means to the goal of more happiness, but the goal in itself.

Money Worship scripts develop in part from living in a society that supports the worship of money. We are surrounded by messages that more money equals success. It often appears that people with wealth are more valued and respected than people without it. It can be difficult to challenge these values, especially if Money Worship beliefs are strongly held by our families, among our friends, and throughout our career fields.

Dr. Brad Klontz‘s suggestions for Money Worshipers include:

  • Establish a habit of budgeted, intentional giving, keeping in mind that giving might include time and skills as well as money.
  • Avoid buyer’s remorse by “putting time between your impulse to buy something and pulling the trigger on it.” Consciously consider your intentions and needs before you make a purchase.
  • Focus on doing things you enjoy with people you love, using money to build connections and memories rather than accumulate possessions.

This last point is perhaps the most crucial. It is ultimately futile to link happiness to our net worth, earnings, or financial success. Having enough money to live without the constant stress of financial uncertainty is definitely an important component of wellbeing. Even more important, however, are healthy relationships and supportive connections.

This was the lesson learned by King Midas. According to the legend, he was initially elated at being granted his wish that everything he touched would turn to gold. But the hollow nature of that happiness was made clear to him the moment he touched his daughter.

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