As most readers of this column know, I have a written a lot about the importance of the emotional side of money and how our beliefs about it affect, not only our investment decisions, but every money decision we make.
I am still occasionally surprised that this idea, which has become commonplace to me and I hope to you as well, is still "cutting edge" information to most professionals in the financial world. One of those who recently became aware of it was Jonathan Clements, columnist for The Wall Street Journal.
In his September 13 column, "Touchy-Feely Finances: How To Find Out What You Really Want From Your Money," Clements expressed amazement that the interior side of money was more than "yet another dubious attempt by advisers to justify their hefty fees." He was surprised at how effective two integrated financial planning exercises were in helping people rethink their finances.
Clements affirmed what I have already seen, that the trend among better financial advisers is to add interior financial services to their traditional financial planning practices. Most of the profession calls these services "life planning," "financial life planning," "values based financial planning," "financial coaching," and "wealth coaching." I use the term "integrated financial planning."
I am glad that Clements is now joining another Wall Street Journal columnist, Jeffrey Zaslow, in understanding the importance of what we think, feel, and believe about money. It is just as vital as is exterior financial knowledge such as asset allocation, good estate planning, and asset protection.
I am excited that the mainstream financial press is beginning to awaken to what my colleagues and I have been learning for over ten years. While much of this was theory ten years ago, today I can look back and count hundreds of lives that have been changed when people uncovered and began to understand their unconscious beliefs about money.
Just recently, a participant in one of the weeklong "financial therapy" workshops I co-facilitate with Ted Klontz, Ph.D., called to tell me how that workshop had changed his life. Until he came to our workshop, he was in a helping profession because his underlying beliefs were "the only thing that really counts in life is helping people" and "if you do anything for money, it is evil." These beliefs caused him a lot of pain, since he had a natural affinity for real estate and finance. He had to suppress those abilities because they were "evil."
What he learned about his unconscious beliefs set him free. Today, he has expanded his career to help people overcome their financial demons. While he is still helping people, he is also accumulating a real estate portfolio for himself. He told me that his assets just surpassed $1 million and that he owed it all to what he learned about his interior beliefs about money. "Until I came to your workshop, I would sabotage every real estate deal that came my way. It was all because of my unconscious belief that making money, having money, and understanding money was evil. And of course, I didn’t want to be an evil person so I was continually sabotaging myself."
The interesting thing about his feedback was, while I had seen scores of people vastly improve the quality of their life, it really hadn’t occurred to me that many of these people also improved their financial net worth.
So, call it what you will—touchy-feely finances, the emotional side of money, or integrated financial planning—it works. It not only works to increase your quality of life, but it can do wonderful things to your net worth, too.