Money is, in a very literal sense, a story. There is nothing inherently valuable or useful about a dollar bill or a paycheck – they are just paper. The same could be said for gold. It's an excellent conductor of electricity and is easily shaped into jewelry, but the idea that gold holds some intrinsic value is a fiction.
We agree that money has value because it's a practical way to exchange goods and services. It makes life easier. It provides a point of reference to compare disparate elements, like the price of groceries relative to compensation for work.
But we also tell ourselves other deeper – and more consequential – stories about money. How we grew up, what our parents or grandparents taught us about the value of money, and our experiences as we started to earn and spend all weave a complex self-narrative about the role of money in our lives.
Is money good or bad? Is it scarce or abundant? How much money is enough? Are people with more money better or worse than people with less money? Is wanting more money the same as greed? Is capitalism the root of income inequality, or does it provide the ability for anyone to move up in the world?
We all have answers to those questions, but few of those answers directly relate to the practice of exchanging goods and services. The stories we tell ourselves about money are based in emotion and self-narrative.
Luckily, we can change the stories we tell! Science has shown that we can rewrite our neural pathways to build new habits and ways of thinking. We can change our minds by changing the internal narratives about good and bad, right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy.
Are your own stories about money helping or hindering you? Does your self-narrative reflect your current reality, or is it left over from an earlier era? Could tweaking your story about what you always do or never do change things for the better?
It's a fascinating topic! I'd love to know what you think. Drop me a line here.
Timothy Iseler, CFP®
Founder & Lead Advisor
Iseler Financial, LLC | Durham NC | (919) 666-7604
Iseler Financial helps creative professionals remove stress while taking control of their financial futures. As both advisor and accountability partner, we help identify current strengths and weaknesses, clarify and refine your long-term goals, and prioritize understandable, manageable, and repeatable actions to bring long-term financial well-being. Reach out today to take the first step.