Are Your Money Beliefs Limiting You Financially?

A new study finds that what you believe about money may hamper your wealth. Brad Klontz, financial psychologist and co-author of “Mind Over Money,” and three other researchers examined the “money scripts” of 422 people, and identified three categories of money beliefs that are associated with lower income and lower net worth. The study was published last month in the Journal of Financial Therapy. If you want to boost your net worth, banish these attitudes:

1. Money Avoidance: Money avoidance is a set of beliefs including anti-wealth statements such as, “Rich people are greedy,” “Money corrupts people” and “I don’t deserve money.” Often, such beliefs are rooted in low self-esteem and/ir childhood experiences where money was misused or misunderstood, says Klontz: “Unless we are able to accept that money is simply a tool that can be used for good as well as evil, we may unconsciously sabotage ourselves.”

2. Money Status: Money status beliefs include “Your self-worth equals your net worth” and “Money is what gives life meaning.” When we equate the acquisition of material things with our value or status as human beings, we may take excessive risks to chase a win, or slip into despair and give up when we fail, Klontz notes. Either trap threatens our financial health.

3. Money Worship: Money worship beliefs are rooted in the idea that more money or more possessions will make a person complete. Money worship beliefs include “More money will make you happier” and “There will never be enough money.” This worship of money persists despite the fact that there is no correlation between money and happiness above an income of $75,000 per year.

The belief that more is better can lead to workaholism—sacrificing family and health for the pursuit of money— miserliness, and ironically, lower income and lower net worth, Klontz argues.

“The belief that more money or possessions will make you happier is a common misperception in the United States and one of the reasons behind the current economic crisis,” notes Klontz. “We set arbitrary ‘more money’ or ‘more stuff’ targets, believing that those magical numbers and material items will bring us meaning, peace, happiness, security or whatever else we feel is missing in our lives. The problem is that when the target is met, the corresponding payoff never shows up.”

Research has found enduring happiness comes from relationships, pursuing one’s passions and helping others.

Do you have a money script running in your head? Do you think it has played a role in your net worth?

(Also, this will be my last post for a while. You can catch my updates at or follow me on Twitter at MoneyHappiness.)

Laura Rowley