There’s a unique link between finance and psychology that is often ignored. It’s a blind area for a lot of financial professionals, and therapists usually aren’t equipped to troubleshoot the manifestation of their client’s financial issues. Dr. Brad Klontz attempts to bridge this gap in his book Mind Over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health.
I love the idea of this book. It was a much needed spotlight on this divide, but at some points Klontz’s points fall flat as he delves deep into psychological banter that seems to be overkill for his audience. Overall it’s a good book to add to your finance book collection if you think you might have emotional issues relating to money that are holding you back from achieving your goals. If, however you are looking more for financial advice or a step plan of action to achieve these goals, this may not be the book for you.
MY FAVORITE THINGS
Let me start by saying that I’m appreciative this book was written. I think it’s an area of finance that needs more attention going forward and I truly think it has the potential to help people that need the emotional support that doesn’t always come along with personal financial guidance. Klontz tries to lay the groundwork for understanding your psychological and emotional self as well as any possible “money scripts” you may have. “Money scripts”, Klontz explains, are childhood interpretations of financial flashpoint events that shape the way we think about money as adults. These are very important things to be aware of because they can influence our financial behavior without us even noticing. At least by becoming aware we can start to retrain any bad financial habits we may have developed as a result of these “money scripts”.
Klontz also spends a decent amount of time explaining the various money disorders we may have developed as a result of these scripts and how to start to self-treat them. This was the most helpful and interesting part of this book, in my opinion. I always want to walk away from a finance book and feel like I learned something new, and this is what I took away from Mind Over Money. Unfortunately, it comes a little late in the book, so if you bore easily when it comes to psychology, you may not have made it to this point.
Lastly, one of the best things about purchasing Mind Over Money, is that each copy of the book (eBook format included) comes with a code that allows you to take a self-assessment to determine if you have any unhealthy emotional tendencies related to money. In my case the results were spot on. I’m generally moderate on most financial scales, but the assessment identified that I might have workaholic tendencies while can be attributed to a money script symptom. While I believe my tendency results from a family where it was “cool” to work hard and the feeling of productivity was a high in and of itself, I can see where this could have a connection back to money and always feeling like you want more of it. It’s something I will be sure to stay aware of going forward to ensure that it doesn’t start to rule my financial life.
MY LEAST FAVORITE THINGS
While Klontz’s background as a psychologist makes him uniquely qualified to help spot financial traumas we may have suffered that are now influencing our finances as adults, he spends a lot of time delving into stories of people that may have experienced similar traumas to yours. This can prove helpful in identifying any outstanding issues you may have with your upbringing and money, and I think it’s wise to address because it really gets you thinking back to your roots with money and if there are traumas associated with them. The majority of the stories for me, however, started to seem unrelatable or inflated in some way. At some point I found myself wishing for a little less storytelling and a little more advice on how to troubleshoot these disorders.
One of my least favorite views expressed in Mind Over Money, is the position Klontz takes that most people know how to manage their finances, but can’t execute what they know they should do since they have emotional baggage related to money management that must first be addressed. I’m not sold on this theory. While it may be true for some individuals, I think often we can feel overwhelmed by our finances and where to even start. Since we’re not provided with any formal financial education in school, we’re often left to sponge up what little we can from our parents that may have their own issues with understanding their finances or even a total inability to talk about them. It’s normal to have no idea where to start when it comes to your finances, and we should be open and honest about what we don’t know.
Additionally, Klontz identifies so many money disorders, that it almost seems impossible that you wouldn’t fall into one of these categories. I suppose that he’s trying to identify tendencies you may have and not necessarily diagnose full blown conditions all of the time, so it can be helpful information to have. That being said, if you are the type of person who grows overly concerned and stressed about such things, this book may do more harm than good. It’s hard to be objective when we’re looking introspectively and the last thing you need is to self-diagnose yourself with a money disorder that doesn’t truly exist.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK?
- Ultimately, I recommend Mind Over Money if you are:
- A couple learning to navigate finances together.
- An overspender who needs help curbing your spending habits.
- An underspender who saves at all costs.
- Struggling to get yourself to engage in your own financial life because you are too emotionally overwhelmed by it.
- Confident you understand the principles of personal finance, but can’t seem to make it work for your own life.
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Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.