I have been reading through the newly released Financial Feminist by Tori Dunlap. Her book features several mini-essays from other financial educators and former mentees. In the first chapter, she discusses core money narratives that drive how women think of money, often to our detriment. She notes that these narratives are pervasive and internalized at a very young age; she mentions that most people’s money habits are entrenched by age seven.

This is very interesting, but I took an interest in a featured mini-essay from Dr. Brad Klontz, Psy.D. In his essay, Dr. Klontz shares that after completing his Psy.D., stressed by his student loan debt and motivated by a friend's success, he started day trading. Suffering heavy losses in an ensuing market downturn, he became fascinated by the psychology that led him and others to engage in risky financial maneuvers. Since then, he has endeavored to become a leading researcher in the psychology of money, a distinction he claims was straightforward to obtain because the psychology of finances is a neglected topic in the academy.

In Financial Feminist he describes a system he developed to assess how individuals can relate to money. The four archetypes he describes are:

Money Avoidance

Money avoiders tend to believe that rich people are greedy, money corrupts, and there's virtue in living with less money. This classification seems closely aligned with an “underearner” which I discuss here.

Money avoiding is associated with unconsciously sabotaging financial success to stay at lower socioeconomic status, ignoring financial statements, financially enabling others to your detriment, and choosing lower-earning careers.

Money Focus

Money focused people tend to believe that money solves all of life’s problems, frequently paired with a scarcity mindset. Money focus is associated with lower net worth, higher amounts of credit card debt, and giving/spending money that one cannot afford.

Money Status

Money status driven individuals believe that net worth is self-worth. As such, they are prone to “keeping up with the Joneses” behaviors, may engage in ostentatious displays of wealth, and believe they can increase their social status through consumption.

Money status people can be prone to prosperity gospel thinking, which refers to beliefs that if one lives appropriately, the universe will grant them financial success. Individuals with money status beliefs are also likely to overspend, have gambling problems, and hide expenditures from friends and family

Money Vigilance

Money vigilant people tend to value saving and are watchful and concerned about their financial status. Dr. Klontz notes that this is the “good” money script but notes that some individuals with these behaviors can be prone to excessive anxiety regarding their financial status.

Money vigilant individuals are less likely to buy on credit and tend to be very discreet regarding their financial status.

Taking the Money Scripts Quiz

I found myself highly intrigued by his framework and sought to learn more. I found his website and saw that Dr. Klontz offers his assessment scale to the public, so I decided to take it to see how my mentality aligns with his framework.

(A little note on how to interpret these scores: a score of less than 3 means you don’t exhibit that money scripts, a score between 3-4 means you exhibit some traits of the script, and a score of 4 or higher means your beliefs are strongly aligned with that money script.)

I won’t keep you waiting any longer; here’s how I scored:

Money Avoidance- 2.8

Money Focus- 4.7

Money Status- 2.8

Money Vigilance- 3.7

I am both unsurprised and surprised by my results. My elevated Money Focus score is expected, but I find it interesting how accurate Dr. Klontz's scale was at predicting my financial status. "Lower net worth and more credit card debt" hurt my feelings to hear, but I can't deny the truth and accuracy of the statement.

What surprised me was that I exhibit traits of Money Vigilance, as I did not expect to show any financially beneficial thought patterns. I spent some time thinking about the accuracy of this result, and upon reflection, there may be some merit to the assessment.

I previously shared that a frustrating factor in my story is that a part of me always knew exactly how badly I was messing up when engaging in poor financial behaviors. In fact, during that era, I was an avid YNAB-er and consumer of personal finance education. However, I could not translate good knowledge into good behavior. I've also shared that I think being treated for ADHD was a crucial factor in curbing my impulsivity such that I could allow more responsible (money vigilant) thoughts to influence my behavior.

Completing Dr. Klontz’s scale was fascinating and meaningful in furthering my understanding of my money psychology. Sometimes, I’m unsure if I’m overthinking or navel-gazing in my analysis of my life and money journey; however, reviewing my scale results helps back up that some of my insights are rooted in reality and are measurable.

I’ll close this article with his advice for individuals with my Money Script profile.

For Money Status: Dr. Klontz states, "it can be difficult to swim against the tide, but tempering the impulse to attach our happiness to our income, net worth, and possessions is good for us, our relationships, and our pocketbooks." He recommends implementing strategies to avoid buyer’s remorse by creating processes to delay impulse purchases. He doesn't recommend deprivation or not spending: he's just suggesting that we take the time to reflect on whether the purchase is a genuine want or need or if the desire to purchase is rooted in emotion. Interestingly, he recommends journaling, which is incidentally what I’m doing right now.

For Money Vigilance: He recommends giving yourself a fun money budget and finding a trusted confidant to discuss your financial plans and seek help for any anxiety you may have about your financial status.