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Whether you ask the Gottmans, T. Harv Ekker, or Ramit Sethi, they all say the same thing in different ways. Money psychology is just as, if not more important than the number in your bank account. That’s why the Gottmans have an entire chapter dedicated to it in their book The Eight Dates, T Harv Ekker wrote an entire book on it called The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and Ramit Sethi has an entire podcast on it titled after his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. They all preach the same thing: Arguments about money aren’t about money itself, they’re about opposing mindsets around money. That’s why it is imperative that you understand your own relationship with money before merging it with your partner’s relationship with money.
Just to hammer my point home, the Gottmans say the following in their book, “Our own personal history with money can affect our relationships in surprising ways. It’s important to explore what your family legacy is about money, generosity, power, and wealth. What emotional history and thoughts do you have about being poor, about being dependent and independent, about being strong and being weak, about philanthropy, civic responsibility, luxury, and pride of accomplishment? When two people with two separate histories with money get together, they must face the challenge of merging those two histories—or deal with the consequences of not addressing them. The first step is to understand your own history.”
As many of our regular listeners know, we are huge proponents of conscious relationships and “knowing yourself” before jumping into a relationship. And in this case, it’s no different. So, the first step to leading a financially exhilarating life with your partner is to become aware of your own money habits and patterns, decide if those habits are serving you or hurting you, and decide what you should do differently. As I mentioned in the first episode, there was one book in particular that completely changed my perspective on money, and that book is The Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. In this book, Eker walks you through four different phases to discover your money mindset.
The first step is awareness. It all starts with one question, “How are you identical or opposite to either of your parent's money habits and ways of being?” Follow-up questions include, “How did your parents talk about money?” and “How did they manage it?”
The second step is understanding. Understanding how we have been modeling money habits from our parents gives us perspective on how it has been controlling our financial lives and gives us the opportunity to decide for ourselves if our money mindset is serving us, or hurting us. Take a minute to answer the question, “How has your money blueprint affected your financial life?”
The third step is disassociation. In the book, Eker urges us to disassociate with our ways of thinking and behaving about money. We can take a step back and view our money habits from another perspective. It allows room to reevaluate if our money habits are healthy, and what needs to change. We can do this by asking the question, “Can you see that your way of being is only what you learned and isn’t you? Can you see you have a choice in the present moment to be different?”
The fourth step is declaration. Now the author urges us to re-create a new, healthier money mindset. It gives us the opportunity to take control of our financial lives and choose how we want to live. He suggests performing the following exercise. Place your hand over your heart and say, “What I modeled around money was their way. I choose my way.”
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to fully understand my own money mindset and how it affected my life. It wasn’t just a quick 5-minute mental exercise and now I was a new person. It took months of repeatedly asking myself these questions, journaling to really understand the impact of my upbringing, and talking to friends and family. Speaking of friends, remember when I said my good friends Alan & Katie Donegan from the Rebel Finance School would be accompanying me on this podcast? Well, since they kinda dedicate their entire careers to this topic (helping people create life-changing relationships with money), I knew they were the people I needed to speak to.
As you can see, money wounds begin at an early age and can become deeper and deeper if you don’t take the time to heal them. And remember, money wounds can go back generations - to your parents, grandparents, and ancestors. However, as proof in Alan’s story, once you’ve healed your relationship with money, your entire world can shift and open up. In his case, it all started with a book.
When I began asking myself these questions, I learned a lot about myself. I learned:
1. I was opposite to my dad’s money habits and ways of being but identical to my mom, that is until I created my own money views. My parents never talked about money. I rejected the idea that “money is a taboo topic” and created new habits around openly discussing and managing money with my partner.
2. I kept getting triggered every time my partner Diego would say to me, “I’m not sure if we can do that” or “We shouldn’t spend money on that.” I realized it was triggering me because those were common phrases in my household when I was a kid. Growing up without a lot of money, I remember my dad saying some version of the same thing: “We don’t have money, therefore we can't do that.” Diego’s words were striking a very sensitive chord, and that chord was, “I don’t want to have the same relationship with money as my parents.”
3. I realized that I was always looking for ways to improve our well-being. How can we live in a nicer home? How can we live in a country that offers a higher quality of living? Even though I don’t value material possessions, I do value quality of life and having a nice environment. I directly adopted this mindset from my mom - I remember she always wanted the best for us as kids and always looked for ways to improve our living situation. I decided that I liked this part about myself, however, I knew I needed to be conscious that I didn’t fall into the “grass is always greener” trap and made a point to be present and grateful for everything I do have on a daily basis.
After going through Eker’s four phases to discover your money mindset and taking the time to really understand it, here are follow-up questions to ask yourself to dive deeper into your money psychology:
- What invisible scripts do you have about money?
- How do you treat money?
- How does money make you feel?
- What does having money mean to you?
- Do you need a certain amount in your bank account to feel safe?
- Are you risk-averse?
- How do you decide what to spend money on and what’s not worth it?
- What are your biggest financial fears and dreams?
Again, this will take time. Go slow and explore your mind with curiosity. When you feel ready, come back for episode 3 where we’ll uncover how to understand your partner’s money mindset (if you’re in a relationship) or your date’s money mindset (if you’re still in your dating journey).
Resources mentioned in the episode:
- Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John & Julie Gottman
- Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- Notes from a Friend by Tony Robbins
Listen to this series via the Date Smart podcast. Episodes are released weekly!
The Date Smart podcast is hosted by Ambiance Matchmaking’s cofounder Taylor Wade. Twenty years ago, Taylor cofounded Ambiance Matchmaking, an exclusive matchmaking agency that has helped over 100,000 singles master their dating lives. In this podcast, she shares the same tactics and techniques with you. Mastering your dating life is easier than you think –– it’s just a matter of science and a little know-how.