Negative Associations With Wealth

Because money can buy us things we want and need, money is equated with power.  It gives us the power to own real estate, boats, go on vacations, and buy new cars.  If we are very wealthy, we are able to be philanthropic and give to charitable causes we believe in.  With all of this comes a varying degree of power.  Some people falsely believe that their money provides them with power they wouldn’t otherwise have, and become power-grabbers.  Some uses money to manipulate others.  Some thrive on building empires, enjoying the view at the top.  These types of empire builders love to have those below them they support, their patriarchal/matriarchal role in the family firmly rooted.  

As you can see, money can develop positive usages of power and negative usages.  As we grow our wealth, think about how our attitude towards money affects the other people in your life.  Do you find yourself bribing family members to do things?  Do you feel afraid to speak to your parents about money, or to ask them for help?  While we look at how our childhood experiences shaped our early attitudes towards money, lets take a good look at our attitudes towards money today and take an inventory of our integrity and self-esteem in that department.  

Money is used by many to express love.  Lovers shower each other with gifts.  Children receive opulent Christmas and Chanukah presents.  Birthday parties are lavish affairs with pony rides and snow cone vendors.  Our society has indelibly associated products with emotions, and we are trained that those that buy us the most love us the most.  This is not always the case.  Sharing your wealth out of pure intentions and a cause or reason you believe in or is valid is an awesome opportunity for you.  Those of us who are blessed with the ability to help others financially must do so with the utmost integrity, and the lack of any expectations other than a proper “thank you”.

As you read through the following list, write down areas that you would like to work on.  Think about how this behavior plays itself out in your family.  Ask yourself if you would wish this same behavior for your children, and why or why not:

Money Myths Checklist: A List of “Stories” People Tell:

  • I will never have enough.  I have always struggled.  There has never been a time in my life that I didn’t worry about money.  That is just life, your have to work hard just to pull it off.  
  • I am bad with money.  Even when I make good money, I don’t manage it well.  I don’t have a budget.  I spend too much money on things I don’t need.  
  • Every investment I make loses money.  I am so terrible with stocks, bonds and all that stuff.  I don’t understand how any of that works.  
  • You never know what might happen.  There are so many potential disasters.  I have to have enough in case of emergency.  Even when I have more than enough in the bank, I don’t want to waste money or spend money on things I don’t need.  
  • I have always had more than enough.  I grew up in a finally that wanted for nothing.  I feel bad about my good fortune, and wish I could share with others.  
  • We have made lots of money, but I have absolutely no idea where it is.  We have lots of different accounts with lots of different people.  I’m not sure how much is in each one, or how their performance has been.  I’ve been meaning to get that organized for a long time.  
  • I don’t have a lot, and I really don’t need a lot.  I’m a very simple person.  I never worry about where my next paycheck is coming from, I live in the moment and it all seems to work out.  
  • I am proud of my financial victories- and I let my friends know about that.  I’m happy to share in the riches.  
  • I am worse off than most of my friends think.  
  • When I am really depressed, spending money makes me feel better.  Even when I know I can’t afford it, I get a “rush” when I make a purchase.
  • Sometimes after buying things, I am struck with panic and “buyers remorse” and often return items I have purchased.  
  • I sometimes secretly feel superior to those who have less money than myself, regardless of their abilities and achievements.  
  • I know that if I can make enough money, I can solve all my problems.  
  • I believe it is very rude to inquire about someone’s salary, or to discuss finances with anyone outside of immediate family.  
  • Sometimes I purchase things I can’t afford to impress others.  I feel like I need to “play the game” to succeed and fit in.  
  • Even if it is something I don’t need, I can’t resist a good sale.  I love to find a bargain!  
  • I often argue with my spouse/lover about money and finance.  

How many of these resonate with you?  These “stories”, internal dialogues we have with our perception of ourselves, are not “bad” or “good”.  These are examples of psychological belief systems we have about ourselves, that may or may not be true.  More often than not, these perceptions are inaccurate, or they became a self-fulfilling prophecy if we hold onto them too long.  

Beliefs About Money

A study was conducted in Britain in 1984 that had three aims; 1) to develop a useful instrument to measure money beliefs, 2) to look at the relationship between demographic and socio-economic groups and their attitudes towards money and 3) to look at the determination of people’s money beliefs and behaviors in the past and future.  Some of the statements on his survey were similar to those above.  The data gathered from this study was then used to conduct further research about money attitudes between ethnic groups, nations, genders, age groups, political affiliations and more.  Not surprisingly, many members of the same demographic group shared similar money attitudes.  However, there is an even deeper level of our relationship with money, and that is of good/evil.  

In 1992, a study conducted by Tang (1992, 1993,1994) conducted empirical work on what he called the Money Ethic Scale.  Tang believes attitudes toward money have a number of components.  First, he believes we have an “affective” component (good/evil), second a “cognitive” component (how it relates to achievement, respect, freedom) and lastly a behavioral component.  His survey asked the participants which of the following types of statements they agreed with:

  1. Good

Money is good

Money is valuable

Money does not grow on trees

Money is an important part of everyone’s life

Money is attractive


  1. Evil

Money is the root of all evil

Money is evil

Money spent is money wasted

Money is shameless


  1. Achievement

Money represents one’s highest achievements

Money is the most important goal in life

Money symbolizes success

Money can buy anything


  1. Respect/Self Esteem

Money brings respect

Money is honorable

Money will bring you friends


  1. Budget

I use my money carefully

I pay my bills immediately to avoid interest

I have a very thorough budget


  1. Freedom/Power

Money gives you freedom and autonomy

Having money in the bank is security

Money can give you the opportunity to be what you want to be

Money is power.

Identify Your Relationship With Money & Take Action:

Understanding your relationship to money is just the first step of successful financial planning.  Now, it’s time to put the plan in place.  Review helpful articles on Budgeting, The Best Laid Plans, The Psychology of Money, MoneyGuard Long Term Care, Money Wise Kids, Socially Responsible Banking, Money & Relationships, Life Insurance Retirement Plan, Annuity, Mutual Funds, Stock Market.