According to financial therapists, our childhood experiences with and the way our parents related to money have imprinted certain thought patterns and behaviors, called “money scripts.”  Money scripts, usually developed in childhood and passed down from generation to generation, drive our financial behaviors.  Money scripts are often developed in response to an emotionally charged, dramatic or traumatic personal, family or cultural financial flashpoint.  These flashpoints can consist of events such as the Great Depression, parental abandonment, or financial hardship.

If you have never heard of a financial therapist before, that is because the concept of financial therapy is relatively new.  Founded in 2008, the Financial Therapy Association (FTA) defines financial therapy as “the integration of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, relational and financial aspects of well-being.”  In other words, financial therapy combines financial counseling and financial planning with personal counseling, marriage and family therapy, sociology, social work and psychology to provide holistic financial solutions.

Financial therapy researchers have identified four core categories of money scripts:

Money avoiders: believe money is bad or they do not deserve money. Money is seen as a source of fear, anxiety or disgust.

Money status: equate net worth to self-worth and tend to put a high value on buying name brands, and/or the newest and best things.

Money worshippers: think money will solve all their problems, there is never enough money, and that money brings power and happiness.

Money vigilance: believe in the importance of frugality, savings, and being discreet about how much money they have or earn.  They have concerns about ensuring money is saved in case of an emergency.

Which money script do you live by? You can find out by taking the brief quiz below.

Keep in mind that you do not have to have money issues to have money scripts, and if you do identify with one or more scripts, that is normal.  It is only when these scripts become a roadblock to achieving financial goals or they elicit extreme behaviors (i.e. compulsive buying, hoarding, workaholism) that the support of a financial therapist may be helpful.

Financial therapists can partner with Certified Financial Planner™ professionals by utilizing therapeutic processes to help facilitate better communication with their clients, and to guide clients to implement financial behavior changes that will help keep moving them towards the right financial track.

If you wish to learn more about financial therapy, please visit



Sages, R.A., & Britt, S. L. (2012). Introducing clients to financial therapy. Trust & Estates, 1519 (3), 31.

Klontz, B. T., & Britt, S. L. (2012). How Clients’ Money Scripts Predict Their Financial Behaviors. Journal of Financial Planning.


Written By: Emily Zeller, CRPS(R)

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