Reading your Money Scripts

Our twenty-one year old daughter returned to the Roaring Fork Valley after completing her studies in Australia and sojourn around Europe.  We got to see her briefly as she made her way back over to the Front Range to re-enter the “real world”, find a job and continue with school.

I have also been in the process of organizing, simplifying and de-cluttering the house.  Going through my bedside cabinet of personal treasures, I found my journal from early adulthood.  My travels to South America and my first few years in Aspen hand written in a lovely script that for me, is a distant memory.

I spent four months traveling through Central and South America the year I graduated from college.  It was a bit surreal to look back through the journal and see how the experiences have woven their way through my life and are being lived out in who I have become and how my perspective on money was influenced.

The cold, sunny February afternoon found Tamarah and I sharing hot soup and thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of growing up.  The timing was perfect for some reflection, introspection and conversation. I bravely opened the journal to share what was going on in my heart and head at her age.

Our money habits and attitudes are shaped by the people, places, events, experiences and situations that make up our life journey.  They are very much a part of who we are, even though we don’t readily recognize them on a daily basis.  Here are a few excerpts from my time in second and third world countries that had an influence on my thinking about money.

Quito, Equador 1-22-1985  “How in the bowels of poverty, in a $1.00 a night hotel, can I feel so at peace with myself?  How can you be so happy with so little?  Then, I look at the people around me, living with so little every day – they seem happy.  I will be going home.  This is their home.  I am a broke college kid and I have more than most of these people will ever see.”

Lago Agrio, Peru 2-4-1985 “Once again, we made friends quickly and had to say goodbye too soon.  They took good care of us in a scary, unsafe oil town.  Saad and Hector are making great money here, but are so unhappy.  Why do you need to prove yourself?  Prove something to your family?  Make it big, do whatever it takes?  Saad is only 20 years old and already stuck in a rut.  Will the money get him out, solve his problems?  I don’t know if it can, maybe.  Right now he is just floating along, so unhappy.  I am just floating along – happily.”

I returned home and came directly to Aspen with a job awaiting me.  The culture shock of extremes consumed my thoughts and journaling for many pages.  Thirty years later, I reflect on how the experiences that pierced my heart so long ago resurface in so many areas of my financial life.  Some messages I got built conviction and strength to my direction in life and others held me captive for a time.

What are your money scripts?  What lessons did you learn in your youth that are either serving you or slowing you down from experiencing financial satisfaction?  Do you want to rewrite any of these messages?  If you were to rewrite them, how would your behaviors change?  Would you use your financial tools differently?  How would your family, friends or community be affected by a shift in your perspective, intentions, and actions?

I cautiously gave Tamarah the journal to peruse.  Filled with the deep thoughts and wild adventures, big dreams and painful heartbreaks of a 23 year old, my hope is that she will be encouraged.  That she will know that she is not alone in wrestling with what it means to “grow up”.  I’m excited to watch her embrace the journey, have fun, and to question the life messages she is receiving.  We all have opportunities to grow in the relational, mental, physical, spiritual and financial areas of our lives.  If you would like to look at your money messages and the opportunity to increase financial satisfaction in your life, call me and we will write your next chapter.

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