Do you know your “money scripts?” Early lessons impact lifelong financial behavior

I learned a great new term on Friday.

Money scripts.

No, it has nothing to do with the burgeoning film industry in Michigan.  It has everything to do with how people handle their finances, and in some cases, how money impacts relationships as adults.  From the time we are first conscious of the term “money,” we are influenced about how to handle finances.

I heard the term in a brainstorming session with a group of psychologists, sociologists, marketers, financial planners and religious leaders at our client, Levanto Financial in Troy.  Levanto Financial provides financial wellness technology and coaching to help people improve their cash-flow, save time, and put themselves in the best financial position possible.

The marketing challenge, frankly, is to get people to realize how much they actually need, and can benefit from, Levanto’s unique coaching services.  If you have income and expenses, you can benefit from Levanto (I’m not just a PR consultant, I’m also a client!).

As an important step in the process, CEO Paul Cloutier, brought together this eclectic group to better understand the barriers that people erect when it comes to personal finances.  Because I hadn’t had a psychology or sociology class since my junior year in college, I hadn’t really thought through to the obvious conclusion that our attitudes toward money are formed early in our childhood. 

Did you live in a family that spent freely and went on vacations, but didn’t really teach how those vacations were funded?  Or, were you raised by a depression-era grandparent who watched every nickel, didn’t trust banks and re-used everything?  Either way, it had a profound impact on how you view money today.

Knowing your own money script – or maybe having your financial coach or advisor help you figure it out – is an important step to setting and attaining financial goals. 

It is also important to know when your money script is flawed, or at least temporarily skewed by macro-economic events (smart sounding phrase, eh?  I did have two Econ classes in college!).  Conventional wisdom for somebody my age was “buy a house, put money in your 401(k).”  That was my money script and I followed it closely. 

For a long time, it worked…I thought (and maybe a few of you did, too) that this strategy would carry on forever.  But, housing values have plummeted and the stock market has been lackluster at best.  I need to take in this new info and adjust my money script.

The brainstorming session was an important step in our journey to truly fine-tune the customer service, marketing and communication approach for Levanto.   Based on this brainstorming session, we are conducting research to validate a few assumptions…is ‘budget’ a bad word from a prospect’s point of view (I like ‘financial road map’ a lot better.)?  Are we merely ‘helping clients increase cash flow’?  Or are we ‘empowering them to envision a better financial future’?

Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about what motivates people to share the details of their financial lives, and helping carry this important message from Levanto Financial to their potential clients.  I do know this…people who work with Levanto rave about the impact it’s made on their lives.  The company is truly making a difference.

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