There Are Four Different Money Scripts – Which One Are You?

We all have different ways of thinking about money. Some of us are penny-pinchers, always looking to save some extra change whenever we get the chance. Others of us see money as a means to an end – it’s a way to enjoy life and keep up with the latest trends. Others still associate money with greed and materialism, wishing to avoid the topic altogether. 

There’s actually a term for the way we think about money, first coined by Brad Klontz a thought leader in the world of financial therapy. It’s called a “money script.”

Your money script is comprised of your unconscious beliefs about money, often rooted in childhood. These scripts affect your adult behaviors and perspectives around money.. Sometimes our thoughts on money are influenced by world events, like children of the Great Depression who grew up to become extra cautious about spending money or wasting anything. Other times it’s an incident specific to you that forms the foundation of your money script. 

Understanding your money script can help you better plan your finances and reach your life goals – that’s why we’ll be exploring common money scripts and what yours says about you in today’s blog.

4 Main Types of Money Scripts

In general, there are four main types of money scripts: 

  1. Money Avoidance
  2. Money Worship
  3. Money Status 
  4. Money Vigilance

Let’s dig deep into what each means, and how you can set yourself up for success going forward.

1. Money Avoidance

Do any of the following phrases resonate with you?

  • All wealthy people are greedy.
  • Poor people are inherently purer than wealthy people.
  • Money is the root of all evil.

If so, you might have the Money Avoidance script, arguably the most damaging of all of the money scripts. While all of the others lead people to obtain money, Money Avoidance drives people to run from money, thus robbing themselves of the stability and security that financial independence can bring.

Money Avoidance might also manifest as a tendency to shy away from financial planning. Money seems like too much responsibility, or an unworthy cause to which you should devote your time and energy. 

A lot of people believe they’re quoting the Bible when they say “Money is the root of all evil,” but the actual Bible verse (1 Timothy 6:10) says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Money itself is not a bad thing, it’s all about how you view it. 

What can you do about Money Avoidance?

People with this money script would do well to separate their idea of good and evil from money. Remember, money is an object – an object you can use to add value to your life through experiences and giving.

2. Money Worship

The second type of money script is know as Money Worship, and it’s basically the opposite of Money Avoidance. People in this category tend to think of money as their sole path to stability, telling themselves things like:

  • If I could just buy [thing], I would be happy.
  • With enough money, I can handle anything.
  • Wealth is freedom.

If these phrases resonate with you, you may fall into the Money Worship script. That may feel odd to say because you don’t think of yourself as “worshiping” money. Very few people actually do, but read through those phrases again and really think about the power you assign to money in your life.

What can you do about Money Worship?

Remind yourself that while money is important, it’s not the end-all be-all of a full life. List out the things that are most important to you: family, friends, your pets, the outdoors, your favorite hobbies. Most (if not all) of these things don’t require money for you to enjoy them. 

Explore ways you can enjoy your life without reaching for your wallet. While money can grant freedom and power, it’s not the only path to success or happiness.

Related: If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?

3. Money Status

Next up is the Money Status script, which is similar to Money Worship, but takes things a step further, causing people to believe that money is directly tied to their self worth. They believe that having more stuff than someone else makes them better or more worthy, and that wealthy people are intrinsically happier than low-income earners. 

Do any of the following phrases resonate with you?

  • I don’t want people to think I’m poor.
  • I feel better about myself when I’m wearing new clothes.
  • My money says something about me.

Someone with a Money Status script isn’t necessarily spending money on things that bring them joy. Rather, they’re buying things that they believe will boost their own status, like the latest car, iPhone or Air Jordans. 

What can you do about Money Status?

If you fall into the Money Status type, explore why you feel reliant on status. What early memories relate back to these habits and ways of thinking? Maybe you had a friend growing up whose family had nicer things and you felt inferior to them. 

Ask yourself this question: If no one knew what you spent your money on, would your priorities change?

4. Money Vigilance

The last money script type is known as Money Vigilance, typically the healthiest of the four – although it can also be taken too far. People who are money vigilant frequently evaluate their financial habits to make sure they’re hitting their goals and making wise decisions. Sounds perfect, right?

The issue arises when that vigilance comes at the expense of their own joy or even health. Everyone wants to save more and reach their goals faster, but it’s not healthy to eat ramen noodles for every single meal just to save on your grocery bill. 

Likewise, total avoidance of borrowing or using credit cards can lead to a lack of credit history, setting you up for rejection when it’s time to apply for a mortgage. 

What can you do about Money Vigilance?

We could all probably stand to be a little more vigilant when it comes to our finances, whether that be in budgeting, saving or planning. That’s why Money Vigilance is the preferred of the four types. But if you find that your commitment to financial health is robbing you of satisfaction in other areas, then it may be time to re-examine.

The key to Money Vigilance is balance.

Speak to your loved ones about their own money scripts – do they align with yours? Do you feel yourself toeing the line between two or more of the above categories? Knowing your underlying beliefs about money can help you better understand your own actions and begin the work toward building better long-term habits. 

To learn more about money scripts, check out our other article: What is a Money Script (and What’s Yours)?

Find Balance with Clarity

At Clarity Wealth, our advisors have the experience to help you better understand your relationship with money—and help you set yourself up for success in the future. Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our advisors.


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