Overcoming Money Personality Biases
A client had successfully saved enough wealth to retire early. In fact, she was overfunded and could easily afford to enhance her lifestyle. However, her money personality was heavily skewed toward protection. Simply, she viewed every opportunity for enjoyment like it would cause her to run out of money. Making matters worse, the client did not have a desire to leave an estate for the benefit of others.
We began by helping the client understand her money personality and further explored the source of her biases. The client’s parents were frugal because they needed to be, and that experience skewed her perception of money. The most telling response was, “That is just how I was brought up.” To address the problem, we took the focus off money and asked her to participate in an exercise where she ranked what was most important to her. Her number-one choice was “Improve Health and Wellness.” We explored this goal further to determine how she was doing in this area and what she would do to improve. She gave herself a low score, and said “eat healthier” was the number-one thing. When asked what was stopping her, she said she hates to cook and, as a result, restaurant food and takeout were the source of many of her meals. Our next question changed the direction of her life. Why not hire a personal chef? The expected answer was, “It will be too expensive.” We then modelled out how much the chef would cost and, more importantly, what the long-term financial impact would be. The result was that it did not move the needle, and we convinced her to give it a try.
The client is in the best shape of her life and feels that she has made significant progress in her goal of improving her wellness. We listened and provided the client a different viewpoint and helper her understand that money is not the goal, rather it is the fuel that makes goals a reality. While she still views spending exercises as a threat to security, she has allowed us to establish the guardrails that free her to pursue happiness free from guilt.